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P. T. Barnum: America's Greatest Showman Hardcover – September 26, 1995


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 358 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1st edition (September 26, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679435743
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679435747
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 8.5 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #638,230 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

There is no denying Barnum's abiding influence, more than a century later, on our popular culture. For better and worse, we owe our irrepressible infatuation with show biz to the prodigious swarm of divas, minstrels, circuses, museums, curiosities, beauty pageants, sideshows, fat-baby and poultry contests that he unleashed, making himself one of America's first millionaires. This amply illustrated, all-encompassing biography leaves no stone unturned, no curiosity unrevealed.

From Publishers Weekly

Show-biz pioneer Barnum (1810-1891) was not just the "most famous and recognizable man" of his time, he was its "great liberating force," argue the authors (Lincoln: An Illustrated Biography). Here they combine numerous short but deft essays and a rich lode of illustrations to tell Barnum's story and chronicle his huge effect on his country. He began with humbug, touting such frauds as an ancient slave and a "wooly horse," believing nonetheless that he had to give the public its money's worth in entertainment. Proprietor of his American Museum in New York City, Barnum went on to promote an array of amazements: the midget Tom Thumb, the Swedish singer Jenny Lind, bearded ladies, Siamese twins, the first hippopotamus in America. After his museum was destroyed by fire, Barnum resurrected it in the 1870s via a circus, eventually acquiring the famous elephant, Jumbo. Though admiring their subject, the authors acknowledge he reflected the racism of his times, exhibiting examples of "savage and barbarous tribes." The book might have been enriched had they discussed how Barnum's spirit lives on today.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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See all 14 customer reviews
Great pix and text about a remarkable American.
P. robb
Top quality in every aspect,with over 500 photographs,illustrations and color lithographs and 358 pages.
J. Guild
Amply illustrated, often with rare photos, this is a great book for anyone, not just circus buffs.
cdunigan@hotmail.com

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 25, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I have only one thing to say, and it's more of a question than anything else:
Why is such a masterpiece (this book), the best of it's kind on one of America's greatest showman, out of print?
That's too bad because this has got to be the best book ever written about P.T. Barnum. The authors have done a meticulous job of researching this man's life and work, along with providing hundreds of long-gone pictures and posters covering every inch of Barnum's career. Books of this kind are rare and don't get any better than that!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Sara Struever (polkadottts@yahoo.com) on August 12, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This book is one of those books that you love to look through, tons of pictures, nicely laid out. And not only is it aesthetically magnificant, but it is quite possibly the most extensive source of information on Barnum available anywhere. It also has a good index and is laid out in a way that makes all of the information easy to get to, without reading millions of pages of stuffy prose.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By cdunigan@hotmail.com on December 16, 1997
Format: Hardcover
The publishers didn't pull a Barnum on the public with this one. They deliver what they promise -- a fascinating, detailed, and engagingly readable biography of the first true showman. Amply illustrated, often with rare photos, this is a great book for anyone, not just circus buffs.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. Guild TOP 1000 REVIEWER on February 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This excellent book was published as an accompanment to the 3-Hour Discovery Channel Documentary on P.T.Barnam;and what a magnificent book it is.Top quality in every aspect,with over 500 photographs,illustrations and color lithographs and 358 pages.It is not simply a collection of photos,which it is,but it is also a detailed text covering every aspect of the long and accomplished life of one of America's greatest personalities.
Everyone,upon hearing of Barnum,immediately associates him with Bailey and the famous Barnum and Bailey Circus.However;Barnum was much greater than that.He was born in 1810,and most of his adult life was spent in developing The american Museum in New York.He was fascinated with the strange and oddities of the world and travelled widely to bring the best of things to be found,back to his museum to put on display for everyone to see,enjoy and be amazed with.
Through hard work and adversity,in 1865 and at the age of 55 Barnum has become wealthy and now has a magnificent museum in New York.Then he is hit with a massive fire,losing it all.It is now the early 1870's and Barnum goes off in a totally different direction,though be it,still show business;he enters the world of the travelling Circus and Side Show.Now in his 60's he teams up with others and particularly Bailey,and creates the great circus for which he is so fondly remembered..
The book is so extremely well researched and written that the reader is taken through such an amazing journey,that it is impossible to put down.Excellent photographs and details of the performers will bring back to life all that the Circus was known for; before the forces of political correctness and other difficulties and advancements in entertainment;made the Circus a thing of the past ..lost but not forgotten..especially when remembered with this great book and Documentry.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Christina Dunigan on May 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The publishers didn't pull a Barnum on the public with this one. They deliver what they promise -- a fascinating, detailed, and engagingly readable biography of the first true showman.

Barnum and the people he pulled into his world come alive in these pages. Amply illustrated, often with rare photos, this is a great book for anyone, not just circus buffs.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Battleship on November 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This book about P.T. Barnum is of outstanding quality. The authors cover the life and accomplishments of Barnum in great detail. The book features even-handed analysis. Barnum's accomplishments and shortcomings are presented in a measured and accurate manner. Barnum is rightly regarded as a great innovator and promoter, but he is shown to engage in "humbug" and was not afraid to pass of fraudulent materials as genuine on occasion.

This book is beatifully illustrated. There are plenty of pictures of Barnum's oddities and natural wonders. Barnum's work had more historical value than most people realize. He collected natural history specimens that the Smithsonian Institute would have been proud to own. Barnum was a resilient individual with a burning ambition to succeed. He built up his entertainment empire on a couple of occasions, such as when a fire devastated his holdings in New York City.

The book relays the stories of giants, dwarves, bearded ladies, and other people who made a living in the circus. Barnum made money off of these unfortunate individuals, but he also took good care of his workers and gave them an opportunity to make money in a cruel world that may have left them in the dust of society.

This is a very entertaining and well written book with enchanting photographs. The book covers Barnum's early years in New York City all the way through the Ringling Brothers circus days as a juggernaut in the entertainment industry. This book is a delightful and engaging read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Me on March 1, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
this was an interesting guy. i'm kind of grooving on this book with all its images :) i mean, lots of words too -- but not skimpy on pictures.
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