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American Legends: The Life of P.T. Barnum [Kindle Edition]

Charles River Editors

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  • Length: 70 pages (estimated)
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Book Description

*Includes pictures.
*Includes Barnum's own quotes about his life and career.
*Highlights Barnum's entertainment career and transition into the circus.
*Includes a bibliography for further reading.
*Includes a table of contents.

"I was a farmhand, a merchant, a clerk, a boss, a theater director and a bank director; I lived in prisons and palaces, I knew poverty and abundance, I’ve traveled extensively on two continents, I’ve met all kinds of people and seen the human character in all its guises, and time and again I have been in the greatest danger. Amidst such a diversity of events, I had to undergo difficult times, but I’m definitely not complaining, and I believe that my life was a happy one, because I always saw the positive side of things." – P.T. Barnum

A lot of ink has been spilled covering the lives of history’s most influential figures, but how much of the forest is lost for the trees? In Charles River Editors’ American Legends series, readers can get caught up to speed on the lives of America’s most important men and women in the time it takes to finish a commute, while learning interesting facts long forgotten or never known.

Americans have loved traveling circuses for generations, and none represent the country’s love for entertainment quite like the most famous of them all, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Circus promoters have long been viewed as somewhat shady hucksters, but none could top Phineas Taylor Barnum, who used a blend of traditional circus entertainment, freak show exhibits, and outright hoaxes to create “The Greatest Show on Earth”. Barnum introduced America to Jumbo the Elephant, one of the most legendary acts in the history of the circus, as well as “exhibits” like Joice Heth, an elderly African American woman Barnum advertised as a 161 year old who nursed George Washington. He also notoriously perpetrated hoaxes with General Tom Thumb and claimed to have a live mermaid, so it’s no surprise that Barnum is often apocryphally quoted as saying, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” While he didn’t actually say that, he said something similar: “Nobody ever lost a dollar by underestimating the taste of the American public.”

In fact, Barnum had specialized in circus entertainment decades before traveling circuses were truly a national sensation, particularly thanks to the popularity of the Barnum American Museum in New York City. Barnum’s museum offered something for everyone across its different halls, from poetic readings to animal exhibits, and all the while, Barnum was defiant when confronted by criticism, reminding people, "I am a showman by profession...and all the gilding shall make nothing else of me." Of course, Barnum was selling himself short by calling himself merely a showman, because during the course of his adventurous life, he was a shrewd businessman, a politician, and the country’s most famous and notorious promoter of both entertainment and himself.

American Legends: The Life of P.T. Barnum examines the life and career of the man most responsible for the kinds of circus entertainment that still fascinate Americans of all ages. Along with pictures of important people, places, and events, you will learn about P.T. Barnum like never before, in no time at all.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2739 KB
  • Print Length: 70 pages
  • Publisher: Charles River Editors (21 April 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #782,299 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.9 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting tidbits on an icon not forgotten 14 Jan. 2015
By gail gagliardi - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
In preparation for a trip to Sarasota Florida's ringling museum, I thought it would be fun to get to know of Barnum story before going. I am glad I found this short story and plan to immediately search fore more stories about him. He may be long gone but certainly such a legend is not forgotten. Fond memories of attending circus in my youth have been awakened. Can't wait for my trip to Sarasota. Four stars indeed. Well done.
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read 8 July 2014
By xterm - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Very interesting about a Man I knew nothing about. I recommend this book.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 1 July 2014
By Survivor 1 - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Fascinating book about a man I have read about for years. He was truly a unique man.
2.0 out of 5 stars Life isn't always a circus. 21 May 2014
By Ms. McKellips - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
There is so much more to P.T. Barnum than the Greatest Show on Earth. He did amazing and wonderful things for his community while still being a conman. I didn't care for this book because it really did just skim the surface. Still, it sparked in me a desire to know more about the man himself.
5.0 out of 5 stars A reviewer is born every minute 2 May 2014
By J. Penrose - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
An adroit and entertaining but very compact biography of America's greatest showman.

Written for junior/senior high school I would say but not a bad read for an adult looking to find out about the guy behind "The Greatest Show On Earth" and why finding the Egress was such an enlightening experience for visitors to his museum.

In the days before television and radio and even phonograph records, Barnum knew what entertained America and supplied it in freight train loads. He made (and lost) several fortunes during a life that someone ought to make a movie about. People with his drive and skill at making money (while giving people what they think they want) are rare and almost always leave their mark on the world.

Barnum never did say "A sucker is born every minute" but he did say "You will never go broke underestimating America's taste", a motto still taken as Gospel by every TV producer and talk show "expert" to this day.

A good read, I heartily recommend this book
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