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The Big Book of Freaks (Factoid Books) Paperback – May, 1996
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Top customer reviews
Wilson begins with the historical roots of the sideshow, with the wild speculations about possible creatures that might exist in the days when much of the world was unexplored, to the fake freaks created for medieval carnivals and self-mutilated beggars, to the modern circus and portrayals in movies such as Tod Browning's "Freaks". In addition to such articles on specific themes are the histories of particular individuals ranging from the famous (the Elephant Man) to the not-so-famous (a "Lobster Man" who committed a murder in a Florida town composed almost entirely of retired circus freaks). The stories range from the heartwarming to the heartbreaking, the humourous to the serious, and include romance and adventure, but all of them treat the unusual individuals who are their subjects as human beings, with all the same potentials as well as the character flaws of any person, and avoids being exploitative. My personal favourite is the article drawn by Ivan Brunetti illustrating how ALL human beings are freakish and are constantly undergoing strange transformations.
The accompanying illustrations are also superb. This is definitely one of the best in the Big Books series.
Be advised, for sake of shortening the stories, some info has been skewed(Example: Barnum's uncle never showed him Ivy Island, a worker did.)
The main gripe I have is the lack of Jim Rose material. He single-handedly brought the sideshow back into the public light, reviving the almost lost artform. The Jim Rose Circus Sideshow has been around since 1992. Seeing as how this book was published in 1996, there is no reason to exclude it.
I recently purchased copy online for [money] dollars. I was not let down. This is book is worth every penny. From the tragic tale of Jumbo the Elephant to the Lobster Boy, Freaks is well written and well illustrated. The picture of a Denatsate is creepy in the very least.
Buy this book.