Christiane's Reviews > The Great and Only Barnum: The Tremendous, Stupendous Life of Showman P. T. Barnum

The Great and Only Barnum by Candace Fleming
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's review
Feb 08, 10

bookshelves: childrens-non-fiction
Read in February, 2010

By all accounts (particularly his own!) Barnum was an amazing personality who led a stupendous life. Though this short biography can only graze the surface, it does a wonderful job bringing the showman to life. Even as a young man, Barnum spent a lot of time "thinking up ways to make money while avoiding work". Not that he was not hard-working, but what interested him was "headwork", not laboring in the soil. The book is very readable, with many sidebars of interesting facts, and black and white photos. Barnum's life was not a continuous rise to success; he had failures and setbacks, yet managed to overcome them, and he never stopped trying new things (he joined the circus business when he was 60 years old!). There isn't a lot of information about Barnum's family but enough that we can see he was not perhaps the best husband and father; he often left his family alone for months at a time, for example. This would be a great biography for a class assignment, and is readable enough to make a good book club choice.
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