The Circus, 1870-1950


For a hundred years, the American circus was the largest show-biz industry the world had ever seen. During the heyday of the American circus from the mid-1800s to mid-1900s, traveling circuses performed for audiences of up to 10,000 per show, employed as many as 4,000 men and women, and crisscrossed the country on 20,000 miles of railroad in one season alone. The spectacle of death-defying daredevils, strapping super-heroes and scantily-clad starlets, fearless animal trainers, and startling freaks gripped the American imagination, outshining theater, vaudeville, comedy, and minstrel shows of its day, and ultimately paved the way, for film and television to take root in the modern era. Long before the Beat generation made "on the road" expeditions popular, the circus personified the experience and offered many young Americans the dream of adventure, reinvention, excitement, and glamour. In 600 pages and 1,000 color and black-and-white illustrations, including about 200 of the earliest color photographs of the circus ever taken and many posters by the famous Strobridge lithographers, this book brings to life the grit and glamour behind the circus phenomenon. Organized into nine thematic chapters, the book sheds new light on circus history, from a behind-the-scenes look at life on the move, to the freedoms enjoyed by early female performers, to the innovative production skills that demanded as much know-how as a modern-day film production. For the first time ever, contemporary readers can now experience the legend of the American circus in full effect. The book's broad subject matter, riveting images, and diverse visual material will appeal both to the circus aficionado and those who have never before been to circus. Noteworthy features include: approximately 200 behind-the-scenes, unpublished extremely rare Kodachrome slides of the circus from the early 1940s-1950s; 300+ riveting lithographic posters that are considered masterpieces of their time, including many by the famous Strobridge Lithography Company; 100s of black-and-white photographs culled from fifteen circus archives and collections in the US; over 15 original sideshow banners, most of which have never before been published; rare color and black-and-white lithographs and engravings from the 16th - 19th centuries illustrating the worldwide roots of the circus; black-and-white photographic gems by key early circus photographers Harry Atwell, F. W. Glasier, and Edward Kelty; and iconic circus photographs by August Sander, Weegee, and little-known circus images by Stanley Kubrick, Charles and Ray Eames, and Harold Edgerton


Dominique Jando, Linda Granfield, Noel Daniel
Hardback | 600 pages
290 x 440 x 95.25mm | 7,711.07g
Publication date
15 Jun 2008
Taschen GmbH
Publication City/Country
Cologne, Germany
English, French, German
Multilingual edition
Edition statement
Illustrations note
Illustrations (some col.)
Bestsellers rank

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