Barnum: An American Life

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To some, he was a con man. To others, a playful trickster. Some say he exploited those less fortunate than him, while others say he brought those individuals fame, money, and success. A philanthropist and a provocateur. A salesman and a self-promoter. A scoundrel or a saint, depending on whom you ask.

The truth is, P.T. Barnum was all these things and more, and Barnum: An American Life tries to explore every facet of the larger-than-life legend’s personality, from the less-scrupulous endeavors to his numerous charitable works. The book analyzes Barnum’s life in great detail, covering his accomplishments, embellishments, stories, foibles, and flaws. But where this book differs from previous biographies is how it tries to examine the subject through the lens of Barnum himself, comparing his own words via his autobiographies, and highlighting what Barnum discussed, left out, or changed. This becomes particularly interesting when it comes to his wife and the death of his child.

Barnum was a complex public figure, a character begging for deep examination, and Wilson presents a true timeline of Barnum as a thinker, a believer, a businessman, and a family man. We see his opinions change, we see him learn from his mistakes, and we see him experience victory and defeat over and over.

With Wilson at the wheel, a road trip through well-trod history becomes a truly remarkable ride.

Reviewed By:

Author Robert Wilson
Star Count 4/5
Format Hard
Page Count 322 pages
Publisher Simon & Schuster
Publish Date 2019-08-06
ISBN 9781501118623 Buy this Book
Issue August 2019
Category Biographies & Memoirs


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