Monday, June 26, 2017


He hoaxed, humbugged, dazzled and delighted the whole world with his magnificent ballyhoo of the unique and the wonderful!

Inventor of modern high pressure advertising, the man who discovered General Ton Thumb, the twenty-five inch man, P. T Barnum founded the famous circus that bore his name, made two fortunes and died worth a million pounds.

And as he died in  1891 so, a million pounds was a million pounds not a one bedroom apartment.

If there was ever a man who encapsulates the American drive for success it was Barnum.  He had vision, he had a mainline into the taste of the people and he had an enormous work ethic.

His first real success was the American Museum, then General Tom Thumb, then Chang and Eng , the Siamese twins then his big punt and huge earner the Swedish singer Jenny Lind.  This run of success lead to his first fortune.  Then he lost it. But he went at it again made another fortune and then finally the circus.

This book debunks the well known expression attributed to him  -"There's a sucker born every minute"- Wallace states that this slang "sucker" was not in use at the time Barnum was meant to have used it.  What he did say was - "the American people love to be hoaxed".

Barnum was friends with royalty, presidents and the wealthy.  Reading this he was generally fair to his performers and realized if people aren't compensated well, they won';t work well.

He was a very interesting man.  Wallace's writing leaves a bit to be desired, I found it full of fact but a dull read.

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