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a jewel of a publicationSimon writes about the various phases of circus history in a dense, rich prose enlivened by some superb chapter headings, quotes and anecdotes Here is an eclectic and well chosen compilation of responses to, and illustrations of, the circusI enjoyed this book greatly Linda Simon is clever, and a thorough researchershe writes with a sharp eye for detail and page turning momentum The Spectator In the age of CGI and editing, the fleeting moment of magical spectacle that the circus represents holds a grip on our popular imagination about as firm as an aerialist s on the trapeze It s an obsession that is intriguingly documented in Linda Simon s The Greatest Show on Earthits great strength is providing both a strong practical narrative and a considerably interwoven portrait of the related thoughts of artists and writers and later filmmakers from the earliest stages of the circus existence, given, in many cases, the very specific inspiration that the circus provided them The Daily Beast Throughout, Simon demonstrates her understanding that circuses are mystical and complex, full of dazzle and escapism, both social and sexualSimon brings a learned hand to this bright history of the circus, which emblazons as it preserves the magic Kirkus ReviewsDazzling, clamorous and exotic, the circus is a theatre of the improbable and impossible From the days of travelling troupes of acrobats and jugglers to the grand spectacle of the Cirque du Soleil, the circus has exerted an indelible fascination Of all our myths of reinvention, rebirth, second acts and new identities, running away to join the circus has a special allure In this book Linda Simon asks why we long to soar on the flying trapeze to ride bareback on a spangled horse to parade through city streets in costumes of glitter and gold Why have artists and writers repeatedly or obsessively taken the circus as their subject What does the circus offer us that we think we so desperately need The Greatest Shows on Earth takes us from eighteenth century hippodromes in Britain to intimate one ring circuses in nineteenth century Paris, where Toulouse Lautrec and Picasso became enchanted by aerialists and clowns We meet P T Barnum, James Bailey and the enterprising Ringling Brothers, who created the golden age of American circuses We explore contemporary transformations of the circus, from the whimsical Circus Oz in Australia to New York City s Big Apple CircusCircus people are central to the story trick riders and tightrope walkers, sword swallowers and animal trainers, contortionists and clowns these are the men and women who create the sensational, raucous, titillating and incomparable world of the circus Beautifully illustrated, rich in historical detail and full of colourful anecdotes, Linda Simon s vibrant history is as enchanting as a night at the big top itself