Linda Simon

The Greatest Shows on Earth : A History of the Circus

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&quot;Step right up!&quot; and buy a ticket to the Greatest Show on Earth--the Big Top, containing death-defying stunts, dancing bears, roaring tigers, and trumpeting elephants. The circus has always been home to the dazzling and the exotic, the improbable and the impossible--a place of myth and romance, of reinvention, rebirth, second acts, and new identities. Asking why we long to soar on flying trapezes, ride bareback on spangled horses, and parade through the streets in costumes of glitter and gold, this captivating book illuminates the history of the circus and the claim it has on the imaginations of artists, writers, and people around the world. <p></p> Traveling back to the circus's early days, Linda Simon takes us to eighteenth-century hippodromes in Great Britain and intimate one-ring circuses in nineteenth-century Paris, where Toulouse-Lautrec and Picasso became enchanted with aerialists and clowns. She introduces us to P. T. Barnum, James Bailey, and the enterprising Ringling Brothers and reveals how they created the golden age of American circuses. Moving forward to the whimsical Circus Oz in Australia and to New York City's Big Apple Circus and the grand spectacle of Cirque du Soleil, she shows how the circus has transformed in recent years. At the center of the story are the people--trick riders and tightrope walkers, sword swallowers and animal trainers, contortionists and clowns--that created the sensational, raucous, and sometimes titillating world of the circus. <p></p> Beautifully illustrated and filled with rich historical detail and colorful anecdotes, <i>The Greatest Shows on Earth</i> is a vibrant history for all those who have ever dreamed of running away to the circus.

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"Step right up!" and buy a ticket to the Greatest Show on Earth--the Big Top, containing death-defying stunts, dancing bears, roaring tigers, and trumpeting elephants. The circus has always been home to the dazzling and the exotic, the improbable and the impossible--a place of myth and romance, of reinvention, rebirth, second acts, and new identities. Asking why we long to soar on flying trapezes, ride bareback on spangled horses, and parade through the streets in costumes of glitter and gold, this captivating book illuminates the history of the circus and the claim it has on the imaginations of artists, writers, and people around the world.

Traveling back to the circus's early days, Linda Simon takes us to eighteenth-century hippodromes in Great Britain and intimate one-ring circuses in nineteenth-century Paris, where Toulouse-Lautrec and Picasso became enchanted with aerialists and clowns. She introduces us to P. T. Barnum, James Bailey, and the enterprising Ringling Brothers and reveals how they created the golden age of American circuses. Moving forward to the whimsical Circus Oz in Australia and to New York City's Big Apple Circus and the grand spectacle of Cirque du Soleil, she shows how the circus has transformed in recent years. At the center of the story are the people--trick riders and tightrope walkers, sword swallowers and animal trainers, contortionists and clowns--that created the sensational, raucous, and sometimes titillating world of the circus.

Beautifully illustrated and filled with rich historical detail and colorful anecdotes, The Greatest Shows on Earth is a vibrant history for all those who have ever dreamed of running away to the circus.
“Step right up!” and buy a ticket to the Greatest Show on Earth—the Big Top, containing death-defying stunts, dancing bears, roaring tigers, and trumpeting elephants. The circus has always been home to the dazzling and the exotic, the improbable and the impossible—a place of myth and romance, of reinvention, rebirth, second acts, and new identities. Asking why we long to soar on flying trapezes, ride bareback on spangled horses, and parade through the streets in costumes of glitter and gold, this captivating book illuminates the history of the circus and the claim it has on the imaginations of artists, writers, and people around the world.
           
Traveling back to the circus’s early days, Linda Simon takes us to eighteenth-century hippodromes in Great Britain and intimate one-ring circuses in nineteenth-century Paris, where Toulouse-Lautrec and Picasso became enchanted with aerialists and clowns. She introduces us to P. T. Barnum, James Bailey, and the enterprising Ringling Brothers and reveals how they created the golden age of American circuses. Moving forward to the whimsical Circus Oz in Australia and to New York City’s Big Apple Circus and the grand spectacle of Cirque du Soleil, she shows how the circus has transformed in recent years. At the center of the story are the people—trick riders and tightrope walkers, sword swallowers and animal trainers, contortionists and clowns—that created the sensational, raucous, and sometimes titillating world of the circus.
           
Beautifully illustrated and filled with rich historical detail and colorful anecdotes, The Greatest Shows on Earth is a vibrant history for all those who have ever dreamed of running away to the circus.

Specifications

Publisher
Reaktion Books
Book Format
Hardcover
Original Languages
English
Number of Pages
288
Author
Linda Simon
Title
The Greatest Shows on Earth
ISBN-13
9781780233581
Publication Date
November, 2014
Assembled Product Dimensions (L x W x H)
8.67 x 6.75 x 1.10 Inches
ISBN-10
1780233582

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Average Rating:(3.0)out of 5 stars

Linda Simons book, T...

Linda Simon's book, "The Greatest Shows on Earth: A History of the Circus" reads more like a collection of small tidbits and one-page profiles of individual people than a true history book. While the early part of the book is in chronological order (covering the evolution of the circus from horse-centric shows to those that include more acts), most of the book is broken up by topic rather than by time period. For example, one chapter covers circus parades; another covers animal acts and trainers; another "feats" such as people being shot out of a cannon. The prose is engaging, but it seldom goes into much detail about any individual person or act. From the numerous examples, it is possible to get a sense of what various aspects of the circus were like, but it doesn't really hold together as a coherent whole. I found myself wishing for both more detail on the individual people and events, as well as more structure to hold everything together and to better illustrate which elements were in which eras. In fact, one of my main criticisms is that the book is too short. I bought the digital edition, which was probably a mistake: the images are not particularly high resolution and don't look great onscreen, while I get the impression that in print, this is a hard-back coffee table sort of book. In Kindle "locations" (a measure the amount of text that goes by), there are only about 3200 locations by the time you reach the end of the book (excluding references and index), which is not very much text for what is in print a 288-page book. All of this might have been acceptable if the digital version had been inexpensive, but it was priced almost the same as the hard-bound version. One of the nice things about the book it its References section, which includes a great many other historical works about the circus. I may use this section to help me find a circus history book more to my liking. If you are looking for a comprehensive history of the circus, I think you can probably do better elsewhere, though I haven't read widely enough in this subject area to suggest a particular title. If you want short tidbits about many different performers and don't mind a lack of overall structure and chronology, then Simons' book might be a fit for you.

Average Rating:(3.0)out of 5 stars

Linda Simons book, T...

Linda Simon's book, "The Greatest Shows on Earth: A History of the Circus" reads more like a collection of small tidbits and one-page profiles of individual people than a true history book. While the early part of the book is in chronological order (covering the evolution of the circus from horse-centric shows to those that include more acts), most of the book is broken up by topic rather than by time period. For example, one chapter covers circus parades; another covers animal acts and trainers; another "feats" such as people being shot out of a cannon. The prose is engaging, but it seldom goes into much detail about any individual person or act. From the numerous examples, it is possible to get a sense of what various aspects of the circus were like, but it doesn't really hold together as a coherent whole. I found myself wishing for both more detail on the individual people and events, as well as more structure to hold everything together and to better illustrate which elements were in which eras. In fact, one of my main criticisms is that the book is too short. I bought the digital edition, which was probably a mistake: the images are not particularly high resolution and don't look great onscreen, while I get the impression that in print, this is a hard-back coffee table sort of book. In Kindle "locations" (a measure the amount of text that goes by), there are only about 3200 locations by the time you reach the end of the book (excluding references and index), which is not very much text for what is in print a 288-page book. All of this might have been acceptable if the digital version had been inexpensive, but it was priced almost the same as the hard-bound version. One of the nice things about the book it its References section, which includes a great many other historical works about the circus. I may use this section to help me find a circus history book more to my liking. If you are looking for a comprehensive history of the circus, I think you can probably do better elsewhere, though I haven't read widely enough in this subject area to suggest a particular title. If you want short tidbits about many different performers and don't mind a lack of overall structure and chronology, then Simons' book might be a fit for you.


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