Millions have sat under the 'big top,' watching as trapeze artists glide and clowns entertain, but few know the captivating stories behind the men whose creativity, ingenuity, and determination created one of our country's most beloved pastimes. In Battle for the Big Top, New York Times-bestselling author Les Standiford brings to life an era when three circus kings--James Bailey, P. T. Barnum, and John Ringling--all vied for control of the vastly profitable and influential American Circus. Ultimately, the rivalry of these three men resulted in the creation of an institution that would surpass all intentions and, for 147 years, hold a nation spellbound.
Anyone who remembers responding with glee to the words 'The circus is in town!' will agree that the show, with its riotous live entertainment, provided 'an adrenaline rush,' as the last owner of Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus once remarked. Unfortunately, veteran author Standiford’s Battle for the Big Top, a readable and meticulous business history of that circus, fails to deliver the same excitement ... A nicely crafted popular history, Battle for the Big Top will appeal to anyone who has ever wondered about the men who gave us the thrill of three-ring circuses.
Historian Standiford (Palm Beach, Mar-a-Lago, and the Rise of America’s Xanadu) delivers a zippy history of Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus ... Standiford packs the account with colorful circus lore, and ably sketches contemporaneous developments, such as the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. Readers will relish this entertaining portrait of a bygone American institution.