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Buy for $29.95
Original 1888 Edition of The Life of P.T. Barnum
"The show business has all phases and grades of dignity, from the exhibition of a monkey to the exposition of that highest art in music or the drama, which entrances empires and secures for the gifted artist a world-wide fame which princes well might envy. Men, women and children, who cannot live on gravity alone, need something to satisfy their gayer, lighter moods and hours, and he who ministers to this want is in a business established by the Author of our nature. If he worthily fulfills his mission, and amuses without corrupting, he need never feel that he has lived in vain. " (PT Barnum)
Phineas Taylor Barnum came from humble means to revolutionize the entertainment industry of his time and lay the foundation of the entertainment industry we know today. His visionary ability to create and market new and innovative acts transformed the world and moved society forward towards a new era of understanding and inclusiveness. His marketing skill and shrewd business skills transformed common and mundane acts into "must see" cultural events. Barnum skill as a showman included marketing such unique features as educated dogs, industrious fleas, automatons, jugglers, ventriloquists, living statuary, tableaux, gypsies, albinos, fat boys, giants, dwarfs, rope-dancers, live "Yankees," pantomime, instrumental music, singing, and dancing in great variety, dioramas, panoramas, models of Niagara, Dublin, Paris, and Jerusalem; Hannington's dioramas of the Creation, the Deluge, Fairy Grotto, Storm at Sea; the first English Punch and Judy in this country, Italian Fantoceini, mechanical figures...these, among others, entertained audiences by the tens of thousands and made Barnum a fortune and made his name synonymous with show business. But Barnum's genius was not limited to parlor tricks and freak shows, although this was a common criticism of his shows. His well-earned title of the World's Greatest Showman was earned by his ability to evolve his show and his techniques throughout his career.
Originally, Barnum was able to transform men like Charles Sherwood Stratton, a dwarf who had been the subject of ridicule throughout his entire life, into famous characters such as "General Tom Thumb", a regal and authoritative figure who would stand before the Queen of England. Another illustration of Barnum's amazing showman abilities is perhaps best showcased in his signing of the "Swedish Nightingale" Jenny Lind, a favorite opera singer of the elite members of Victorian Era's society. Barnum signed Lind and included her in his tour, considerably raising the bar and perception of his performances...
Now, thanks to the re-publication of this volume, complete with new illustrations, we can hear Barnum's story from his own pen directly in his own words. We hope you enjoy pulling up a chair and sitting down for a conversation with the World's Greatest Showman, P.T. Barnum.
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- James M. Patton
Finished it to be able to say I did.
I was hoping this would be an exciting book, considering all the great references there are to Barnum in pop culture.
Here is the take away:
1. It is extremely long, with stories getting into minutia to the point you are getting the ingredients to meals.
2. Over and over you are told how he made thousands of dollars a day, sometimes $ 8,000 to $ 12,000 or more and he would graciously give performers several thousand dollars a day above their agreed-upon wage.
These stories start before Lincoln was assassinated. How big of a tent, how many shows, how many people could go to his shows and how much could they pay that he was making upwards of tens of thousands of dollars a day when not being specific?
If you consider what a nickel was worth in those days, imagine if he had a 10,000 seat arena at his disposal. Something he could not possibly have. 10,000 seats x a nickel is $ 500 per show. But he was clearing $ 12,000 or more a day? Sometimes that much a show? I don't buy it and it is presented way too many times and the numbers just do not add up.
The greatest showman on Earth, perhaps, but he just did not have the arenas it would take and people did not have the money it would take. And then consider travel. Did people ride their horse from Washington State to Washington D.C. to catch an afternoon show? Because people would have had to have come from across the country every day for the numbers he constantly gives.
If you are not completely enthralled with what I have typed and do want to hear 25 hours more of it, then do not buy this book.
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