"Riveting...a visceral approach...resonates with a golden glow that reminds readers of great American novels from the past..." David W. Menefee - BookPleasures.com On a snowy spring night in New York, in 1936, John Ringling, the Great Circus King, exited Madison Square Garden through a dark back alley. He walked out to 49th Street and met an old friend he hadn't seen in decades. Ringling, almost seventy, was disheveled and alone. The two of them sat at a bar near Union Square, where John Ringling recounted the story of the five Ringling brothers, their circus, and John's story as the last one on the lot. Seemingly in ruin then, John Ringling has had the Last Laugh, not only on those who forsook him but on the amusement world and the art world. Michael Lancaster is the great grandson of Charles Ringling, one of the five Ringling brothers. He is a sculptor and a fourth generation artist. He has spent over thirty years listening to the stories of the famed Boys From Baraboo. This is his first novel. It is not just a circus story, although there is a circus story in it; this is an American story.
Being 72 years of age I’ve know of the Ringling Brothers Circus my entire life and had the pleasure of taking in more than one performance. As an occupation traveling the country conducting auctions I often felt like a circus as in the early days I had a large truck that carried a tent. We set the tent up with chairs and a podium to conduct auctions under. We went in advance to put up posters and signs. So I felt somewhat of a kinship with the Cirky people.
Recently I had the opportunity to visit the Ringling Circus museums and was captivated to see firsthand the history, the amazing organization of the travel, the putting up the tents, the performance then tearing it all down to go to the next town to do it all again. The Ringling home is unbelievable and a must to see.
Since my visit I developed an aggressive desire to learn more about the Ringling family particularly John and my Search certainly led me to the right book. John Lancaster’s Ringling, The Last Life is a great read, I could hardly put it down. I highly recommend this book perhaps I overlooked it I In the gift store at Sarasota but happy I found it on Amazon. Thank you Mr. Lancaster for keeping the circus alive Jim Owen Author of In Search Of A River
I got interested in the Ringling brothers story while visiting my daughter in Sarasota and going to the Ringling property. I want to go back without kids and do the tours. The story is fascinating. I had no idea what their history was and how they promoted treating the animals right and family values.I just really came away with a greater appreciation for the name Ringling. I an glad the Lord blessed them back in the day
Interesting stories about the Ringling Brothers who started and ran the Ringling Circus. Unfortunately, the writing isn't up to par, particularly because it jumps time very awkwardly and the writing style is all over the place.
Ringling the Last Laugh by Michael Lancaster is a fictional story about the Ringling brothers and how they got into the circus business. It is based on a true story though. Does John get the last laugh?
The characters are the six brothers and other family, friends, enemies, etc. The point of view changes, but it is mostly from John's pov. The story is about how John gave birth to a dream and then watched his pie in the sky be eaten by backbiters. In the end, John made a pivotal decision right before he died that would affect his family years after his death.
I really enjoyed the story. I love the time period. The story is set in the early 1900s. I love how the book is divided. There are sections in each chapter. The first one contains a section for different family members. From there the chapters and sections progress to how the Ringling Brother's Barnum and Bailey Circus, The Greatest Show on Earth came into being.
It is also a great history lesson. The circus is as American as apple pie. Even though it is fiction, it offers some insight into what actually happened.