“A striking visual record… it portrays energy, scale and drama.”
"A gee-whiz spectacle of a book, a three-ring extravaganza as bright as a pinball machine."
The Circus. 1870s–1950s
Hardcover in slipcase, 9.9 x 15 in., 11.81 lb, 544 pages
The magic and mystery of the Big Top come alive in this history of the American circus. Famed photographs and little-known images capture the 19th- and 20th-century showbiz phenomenon, a unique traveling art form that eventually paved the way for television and film. From sad clowns to titillating tightrope walkers, join the circus on stage, behind the scenes, and in its enduring imprint on the American imagination.
The Greatest Show on Earth
The history and legacy of the circusDuring its heyday, 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 and crisscrossed the country on 20,000 miles of railroad in one season alone. The spectacle of death-defying daredevils and strapping superheroes gripped the American imagination, outshining theater, comedy, and minstrel shows of the day, and ultimately paving the way for film and television. The circus offered young Americans the dream of adventure and reinvention.
This book brings to life the grit and glamour of the circus phenomenon. Images include photographic gems by early circus photographers Frederick Whitman Glasier and Edward Kelty, many of the earliest color photographs ever taken of the circus from the 1940s and 1950s, iconic circus photographs by Mathew Brady or Cornell Capa, and little-known circus images by Stanley Kubrick and Charles and Ray Eames. For the first time, contemporary readers can experience the legend of the American circus in all its glory.
“I like the Circus book because it has lots of nice big lurid photos, the whole grotesque bizarreness of circuses. I went to one of these as a kid. It was an overpowering experience, and the book captures all of that. Oh, and there are great reproductions of colorful old circus posters.”
Illustration: Robert Nippoldt