Barnum: An American Life [EPUB]

Barnum: An American Life [EPUB]
Barnum: An American Life by Robert Wilson
2019 | EPUB | ISBN: 1501118625 | 64.48MB

The first major biography of P.T. Barnum in a generation, a vivid account of the forefather of American entertainment.

P. T. Barnum was the greatest showman the world has ever seen: the cocreator of the Barnum & Bailey Circus and the man who made worldwide sensations of Jumbo the Elephant, General Tom Thumb, and the “Swedish Nightingale,” Jenny Lind. He was the champion of wonder, joy, trickery, and “humbug.” He was, as Barnum argues, one of the most important Americans of the nineteenth century.

Nearly 125 years after his death, the name P. T. Barnum still inspires wonder. Robert Wilson’s vivid new biography captures the full genius, infamy, and allure of the ebullient showman. From birth to death, Phineas Taylor Barnum repeatedly reinvented himself. He learned as a young man how to wow crowds, and built a fortune that placed him among the first millionaires in the United States. He also suffered tragedy, bankruptcy, and fires that destroyed his life’s work, yet willed himself to rebuild and succeed again. As an entertainer, Barnum courted controversy time and again throughout his life—yet he was also a man of strong convictions, guided in his work not by a desire to deceive but an eagerness to thrill and bring joy to his audiences. He almost certainly never uttered the infamous line, “There's a sucker born every minute,” instead taking pride in giving crowds their money’s worth and more.

Robert Wilson, editor of The American Scholar, tells a gripping story in Barnum, one that’s imbued with the same buoyant spirit as the man himself. Wilson adeptly makes the case for P. T. Barnum’s place among the icons of American history, as a figure who represented, and indeed created, a distinctly American sense of optimism, industriousness, humor, and relentless energy.

Time Song: Journeys in Search of a Submerged Land [EPUB]

Time Song: Journeys in Search of a Submerged Land [EPUB]
Time Song: Journeys in Search of a Submerged Land by Julia Blackburn
2019 | EPUB | ISBN: 1101871679 | 25.0MB

Julia Blackburn has always collected things that hold stories about the past, especially the very distant past: mammoth bones, little shells that happen to be two million years old, a flint shaped as a weapon long ago. Shortly after her husband’s death, Blackburn became fascinated with Doggerland, the stretch of land that once connected Great Britain to Continental Europe but is now subsumed by the North Sea. She was driven to explore the lives of the people who lived there—studying its fossil record, as well as human artifacts that have been unearthed near the area.

In Time Song, Blackburn brings us along on her journey to discover what Doggerland left behind, introducing us to the paleontologists, archaeologists, fishermen and fellow Doggerland enthusiasts she meets along the way. She sees the footprints of early humans fossilized in the soft mud of an estuary alongside the scattered pockmarks made by rain falling eight thousand years ago. She visits a cave where the remnants of a Neanderthal meal have turned to stone. In Denmark she sits beside Tollund Man, who seems to be about to wake from a dream, even though he had lain in a peat bog since the start of the Iron Age. As Doggerland begins to come into focus, what emerges is a profound meditation on time, a sense of infinity as going backward and an intimation of the immensity of everything that has already passed through its time on earth and disappeared.

In the Country of Women: A Memoir [EPUB]

In the Country of Women: A Memoir [EPUB]
In the Country of Women: A Memoir by Susan Straight
2019 | EPUB | ISBN: 1948226227 | 18.41MB

To understand my daughters and their sisterhood, you have to know the women, and sisters, who came before.

In the Country of Women is a valuable social history and a personal narrative that reads like a love song to America and indomitable women. In inland Southern California, near the desert and the Mexican border, Susan Straight, a self-proclaimed book nerd, and Dwayne Sims, an African American basketball player, started dating in high school. After college, they married and drove to Amherst, Massachusetts, where Straight met her teacher and mentor, James Baldwin, who encouraged her to write. Once back in Riverside, at driveway barbecues and fish fries with the large, close-knit Sims family, Straight―and eventually her three daughters―heard for decades the stories of Dwayne’s female ancestors. Some women escaped violence in post-slavery Tennessee, some escaped murder in Jim Crow Mississippi, and some fled abusive men. Straight’s mother-in-law, Alberta Sims, is the descendant at the heart of this memoir. Susan’s family, too, reflects the hardship and resilience of women pushing onward―from Switzerland, Canada, and the Colorado Rockies to California.

A Pakistani word, biraderi, is one Straight uses to define a complex system of kinship and clan―those who become your family. An entire community helped raise her daughters. Of her three girls, now grown and working in museums and the entertainment industry, Straight writes, “The daughters of our ancestors carry in their blood at least three continents. We are not about borders. We are about love and survival.”

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