P.T. Barnum: America's Greatest Showman

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Knopf, 1995 - Circus owners - 358 pages
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With P. T. Barnum: America's Greatest Showman, Philip B. Kunhardt, Jr., Philip B. Kunhardt III, and Peter W. Kunhardt - who were responsible for the best-selling Lincoln: An Illustrated Biography - rediscover the genius and vision of an unmatched impresario and entrepreneur. In vivid words and spellbinding pictures (more than 500 photographs, engravings, and color lithographs from the renowned Meserve Collection and forty other archives), we meet a man of complex motives, a master of merchandise, and inveterate self-promoter often reviled for his opportunism. We meet the man who did not say "There's a sucker born every minute"; whose best friends were clergymen; whose autobiography sold more than a million copies; who took a public leap through a flaming hoop to prove to the ASPCA that his performing horses were in no danger; who (allegedly) plotted with Samuel Clemens to lease a comet's tail to take a million passengers on a guided tour of outer space. We meet the man who built his reputation - and his fortune - largely on the exoticism of others, but whose crowning moment as a member of the Connecticut state legislature came in a speech in favor of the constitutional amendment to abolish slavery: "A human soul is not to be trifled with. It may inhabit the body of a Chinaman, a Turk, an Arab or a Hotentot - it is still an immortal spirit!"
There is no denying Barnum's abiding influence, more than a century after his death, on our popular culture. For better and for worse, we owe America's irrepressible infatuation with show biz largely to him.

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BARNUM: Prince of Showmen

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

Phineas Taylor Barnum (181091) was the greatest showman this country has ever produced. Not only did he define American popular culture of the 19th century, exploiting our natural fascination with ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - BeaverMeyer - LibraryThing

The pictures in here are tremendous and you learn an awful lot about one of the greatest Americans ever to live. If you care at all about circuses and carny folks, this is a must-purchase book for your collection. Read full review


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About the author (1995)

Philip B. Kunhardt, Jr. is a former managing editor of Life magazine and the author of numerous books. His son Philip B. Kunhardt III, an Episcopal minister, co-authored and produced Lincoln: An Illustrated Biography, among other projects. Son Peter W. Kunhardt is a three-time Emmy Award winning producer of documentaries.

The reader, Richard Neustadt, is the Douglas Dillon Professor of Government emeritus at Harvard University. He is the author of many books, among them: Presidential Power, Alliance Politics, and The Epidemic That Never Was. Neustadt is the sole on-camera commentator for the PBS series The American Presidents.

The voices of the presidents are read by Larry Kenney.

Philip B. Kunhardt III is a writer-producer with Kunhardt Productions. Peter W. Kunhardt is executive producer of Kunhardt Productions. Peter W. Kunhardt, Jr. is assistant director of development at the Meserve-Kunhardt Foundation. Along with their father, the late Philip B. Kunhardt, Jr., Philip and Peter are coauthors of "Lincoln: An Illustrated Biography," "Looking for Lincoln "will be the companion volume to a four-hour PBS special of the same name to be aired in the winter of 2009. The Kunhardts are based in Chappaqua, New York.

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