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American Sideshow: An Encyclopedia of History's Most Wondrous and Curiously Strange Performers #2020

American Sideshow An Encyclopedia of History s Most Wondrous and Curiously Strange Performers A fascinating look into the history of the American sideshow and its performers Learn what s real what s fake and what s just downright bizarre You ve probably heard of Tom Thumb The Elephant Man Ch

  • Title: American Sideshow: An Encyclopedia of History's Most Wondrous and Curiously Strange Performers
  • Author: Marc Hartzman
  • ISBN: 9781585424412
  • Page: 477
  • Format: Hardcover
  • American Sideshow: An Encyclopedia of History's Most Wondrous and Curiously Strange Performers By Marc Hartzman, A fascinating look into the history of the American sideshow and its performers Learn what s real, what s fake, and what s just downright bizarre You ve probably heard of Tom Thumb The Elephant Man Chang and Eng, the original Siamese twins But what about Eli Bowen, the legless acrobat Myrtle Corbin, the four legged woman Or Prince Randian, the human torso All thesA fascinating look into the history of the American sideshow and its performers Learn what s real, what s fake, and what s just downright bizarre You ve probably heard of Tom Thumb The Elephant Man Chang and Eng, the original Siamese twins But what about Eli Bowen, the legless acrobat Myrtle Corbin, the four legged woman Or Prince Randian, the human torso All these and were stars during the heyday of the American sideshow, from 1840 to 1950 American Sideshow chronicles the lives of truly amazing performers, examining these brave and extraordinary curiosities, not just as sideshow attractions, but as people, delving into the lives they led and how they were able to triumph over their abnormalities American Sideshow discusses the rise and fall of the original sideshows and their subsequent replacement by today s self made freaks With the progress of modern medicine, the physical abnormalities are disappearing, either through treatment or prevention and, ironically, those same technological advancements now make it possible to change our bodies at will It s amazing how easy it is to have your tongue forked, horns surgically implanted, or your earlobes removed There are also modern day giants, fire eaters, fire breathers, sword swallowers, glass eaters, human blockheads, and, oh, so much These fascinating personalities are celebrated through intimate biographies paired with stunning photographs Approximately 200 performers from the past 160 years are featured, giving readers a comprehensive and sometimes astonishing view of the history of the American sideshow.

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    1 thought on “American Sideshow: An Encyclopedia of History's Most Wondrous and Curiously Strange Performers

    1. Perhaps the most widely researched book of its kind that I ve read but perhaps it is that which lost it a few stars for me In his attempt to fit in all the possible relevant material, some of the biographies come off as rather trite, and the descriptions aren t anywhere near as sympathetic as those in similar books I ve read All in all, I d recommend Daniel Mannix s book Freaks before this one, but it s definitely a volume worth having on your shelf.

    2. I would rate this one 3.5, actually It was an entertaining read I have always had a fascination with sideshow performers, ever since I was a child, but parts of this book felt lacking to me I liked the encyclopedic format, but I wondered why some entries were so small and brief compared to others I also felt like the last third, about modern sideshow performers, just wasn t as interesting To me, it s much interesting to read about people who were born with disabilities and disfigurements learni [...]

    3. When I was smaller, I found my mother s battered copy of Very Special People, outlining the lives of certain sideshow performers of carnival heyday I loved the book then, and I was so glad to find this larger book with up to date information on many of the individuals from Very Special People, as well as performers still working today.

    4. I ve always found myself unusually drawn to the unusual This includes, to a great degree, circus folk So, when I saw a single copy of American Sideshow in the theatre section at the bookstore I immediately honed in This book is a treasure chest of information about sideshow performers throughout America s history that will never leave my personal library.American Sideshow gives us short vignettes on, easily, than a hundred different midway freaks But don t let the length of these biographies, m [...]

    5. This book truly is fantastic Mr Hartzman does a LOT of research on which he s written, so it s not some OK here s some freaks enjoy sort of book It deals with the history of the sideshows, from the days of first inception to today, as well as teaching you the lingo of the carnys and the methods they used to draw a crowd People today think that freakshows are something to be banned, as modern thinking and medicine can help even cure an affliction that, say, 100 years ago would never have even see [...]

    6. I would ve given this book 5 stars if it wasn t for the last few chapters Included in the end of the book are modern American sideshow acts and they are nothing than self made freaks Not remotely interesting They may be cool people I don t know But they had no place among the great ones, Commodore Nutt, Tom Thumb, Chang Eng It felt really anachronistic to be reading about Barnum s acts and then suddenly some couple who gets lots of tattoos Big deal It s a completely different era Tattoos and se [...]

    7. I read this in a couple of hours today Water for elephants reawakened my love of circus history as Freaks did when I first saw that film 10 years ago If I ever need a new career circus historian it will be I appreciated the encyclopedia format and found I was not quite interested enough to read the bios of EVERY fat man woman, dwarf little person, set of conjoined twins or bearded lady lots of these individuals profiled here Interestingly, a lot of people who were from or settled in Ohio.

    8. Ok, some great pictures and good history of the sideshow, I wish there was biographical information on some of the interesting people shown in the books.

    9. 2.5 starsI was so excited for this book as I have always been fascinated by circuses and sideshows I loved how many performers were highlighted and how the book was sectioned into the Golden, Silver and Modern Ages of sideshows However, I was generally disappointed as I finished this book Yes it is an encyclopedia but I felt many entries were way too short while others were strangely long The same biographical information was not given for all persons date of birth, place of birth, cause of deat [...]

    10. This was a fascinating look at the three main eras of sideshows The book is not exploitive and focuses on what lead each person to join a sideshow, how they did there and what happened after In many cases, it highlighted how it enabled them to have a success of their own and independence It was a fascinating read about the historical sideshow, and how it is evolved to the sideshows seen today.

    11. Detailed compilation of many famous freaks with background stories that are known It includes a section of today s freaks I was surprised to learn many freaks earned quite a bit of money to retire with.

    12. this was an interesting read, see how side shows have changed from the beginning and learn about all sorts of different entertainers from them.

    13. 4.5When you think of the Carnival Sideshow do you think of poor souls with birth defects being displayed against their will and jeered at by heartless crowds of peopleor do you think of performers showing what sets them apart from the rest of humanity and turning a profit Well the truth is not all black and white and is a mixture of the two Although we look down on our forebears for shelling out money to take a peek at JoJo the Dog Faced Boy or Prince Randian The Human Worm that really any diffe [...]

    14. I can t say I read the WHOLE thing because it s an encyclopedia but it s definitely worth a look It is particularly interesting to read that, despite what you might think or assume, many of these people led fulfilling lives and why shouldn t they You can argue all you want about whether it is degrading for someone to perform in a sideshow, but in the Victorian era on to the 1950s, it was nearly impossible for people with such disabilities to earn a living I m glad that it s changed that medicine [...]

    15. This book is great if you want a resource for sideshow performers or stories about interesting people There is a definite rose tinted voice here you can tell Hartzman is very passionate about the topic and perhaps glosses over some of the negative aspects of the exploitative nature of the sideshow as a whole But this is not a sociological paper about how culture was affected by the American sideshow and it doesn t claim to be it is a well researched collection of people who were born into weird [...]

    16. A great overview of the sideshow from it s earliest years to the modern incarnation, although I did find the stories of the performers from the golden and silver eras to be much interesting than the modern performers, who seem to be almost entirely self made through tattoos, piercings, or performances To me, if you ve read about one guy who has covered himself in tattoos and piercings and learned to swallow swords, eat glass, and or lift weights with his insert body part , you ve kind of got th [...]

    17. This was a really interesting set of short biographies of people who have exhibited themselves in sideshows over the years I ve always been interested in this sort of thing, so this was an enjoyable read I learned things I hadn t previously known about many of the performers I d read about in other books My only complaint was that there definitely could have been pictures and a little meat in some of the biographies.

    18. Discussion of the earlier sideshow freaks was much interesting than the modern ones who are mostly illusionists or sword swallowers with multiple body modifications Also interestung was the idea that modern thinking sees them as exploited, many thrived in the sideshow curcuit in a couple instances they were miserable when institutionalized and were very handsomely paid Interesting read.

    19. picked up in the bargain bin and i really enjoyed it interesting history of the sideshow with some interviews with people who are still living today well researched and attention grabbing lots of pictures and easy to read great for people who aren t avid readers but who are interested in the subject.

    20. Interesting book It s also interesting that I found the stories of golden age and silver age prodigies, and curiously strange performers, many of whom were born with what were life altering physical differences, compelling and inspiring The descriptions of modern age freaks on the other hand are just disturbing.

    21. I didn t read it cover to cover It s so one of those books that you kind of gawk through and when you see a picture or person that sounds interesting, you read their blurb Weird interesting stuff though.

    22. A reference book, than anything else erm, like most encyclopedias Pretty interesting alternately inspiring and sad I read it right after I saw Freaks a bunch of the stars are featured in this book.

    23. Full of all sorts of interesting facts about one of my favorite subjects.Who knew Some of the side show stars actually became famous and were well paid.Many of the fat ladies were paid weekly, a dollar per pound, which back in those days was a whole lot of money

    24. an encyclopedic view of side shows and those that filled them I was rather surprised that most of the intelligent people allowed themselves to be exploited this way, but most saw it as a lucrative business and a way to be among similar people The I read the it made sense.

    25. This book is about the different people who were sideshow workers at the circus over a period of time Some of the people led sad lives, but many found love and enjoyment in what they did I found it very interesting to see how the circus was and still is a world of its own.

    26. i finally finished this book after being given it years ago i really enjoyed it i ve had a fascination with circus acts for a while now and i really enjoyed reading about all the interesting people who make up these acts.

    27. This book is a nice little edition to any sideshow enthusiast s collection Many of the most famous sideshow performers of the last 100 years are covered in bite sized chapters with beautiful period photographs From the beginnings of the sideshow to the Jim Rose Circus, its all covered.

    28. I bought this book for my high school students for sustained silent reading purely for high interest I was pleasantly suprised that it lead to discussions about respect for others and how our culture s notions of deformity have changed.

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