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Saturday, July 6, 2013

NEW CIRCUS BOOK--

Philadelphia has big role in book's tale of circuses, elephants


From the book jacket
"Topsy" includes the little-known story of Adam Forepaugh, an 1800s Philadelphia circus man and Barnum competitor.
   
from:  philly.com
Reviewed by Steve Weinberg
Saturday, July 6, 2013,
Topsy
The Startling Story of the Crooked-Tailed Elephant, P.T. Barnum, and the American Wizard, Thomas Edison
By Michael Daly
Atlantic Monthly Press, 345 pp. $27

Philadelphia is not usually the city that comes to mind when thoughts turn to the circus, circus elephants, circus entrepreneur P.T. Barnum, or inventor Thomas Edison.
Yet the city of Philadelphia plays a starring role in author Michael Daly's slice-of-Americana history featuring the name of a now-dead elephant as the book's title, with Barnum and Edison receiving billing in the book's subtitle.
The name of the Philadelphia anchor to Daly's convoluted slice of American folklore is Adam Forepaugh, a Philadelphia businessman whose traveling circus rivaled P.T. Barnum's through several decades of the 19th century.
Forepaugh's name is not in the book's title or subtitle. He is a major character, however, and drags his home base of Philadelphia into the saga again and again until his death during 1890 alters the circus/elephant world.

Daly, a columnist for the New York Daily News, opens the book with the birth of an elephant somewhere in an Asian forest, circa 1875. He explains, admiringly, how elephants mature in the wild. He then explains, with alarm, how rapacious humans entered the wild, justified the capture of the elephants, and found methods, all of them arduous, to transport those intelligent, sensitive, gigantic beasts across oceans to reside in zoos or perform in circuses.
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/entertainment/20130706_Philadelphia_has_big_role_in_book_s_tale_of_circuses__elephants.html#jIfIta8ykgCMfv1L.99

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