On Sale: July 7, 2008
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Historical | Non-Fiction Photography
During its heyday one hundred years ago, the American circus
was the largest show-biz industry the world had ever seen.
From the mid-1800s to mid-1900s, traveling American circuses
performed for audiences of up to 14,000 per show, employed
as many as 1,600 men and women, and crisscrossed the country
on 20,000 miles of railroad in one season alone. The
spectacle of death-defying daredevils, strapping
super-heroes and scantily-clad starlets, fearless animal
trainers, and startling freaks gripped the American
imagination, outshining theater, vaudeville, comedy, and
minstrel shows of its day, and ultimately paved the way for
film and television to take root in the modern era. Long
before the Beat generation made "on the road" expeditions
popular, the circus personified the experience and offered
many young Americans the dream of adventure, reinvention,
and excitement. Organized into nine thematic chapters, the
book sheds new light on circus history, from a
behind-the-scenes look at life on the move, to the freedoms
enjoyed by early female performers, to the innovative
production skills that demanded as much know-how as a
modern-day film production. For the first time ever,
contemporary readers can now experience the legend of the
American circus in full effect. The book's broad subject
matter, riveting images, and diverse visual material will
appeal both to the circus aficionado and those who have
never before been to circus.
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