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Written with the same energy and imagination Barnum brought to all his endeavors, this autobiography is a manual on getting rich, an occasional sermon on the merits of Christianity, and a survey of popular entertainment. When the first version was published in 1855, it became an immediate bestseller. Read today, it is not only a wonderful portrait of the most colorful figure in nineteenth-century American life but also a fascinating document of his times. He schemed to entrance the American people—to shock, amuse, and surprise them. And he succeeded. P.T. Barnum introduced the American public to Tom Thumb, the Siamese twins Chang and Eng, and the Swedish Nightingale, Jenny Lind. He made Americans open their eyes in amazement at thousands of “oddities,” some real, some manufactured. Struggles and Triumphs is the life story of America’s first purveyor of pop culture—a man who indulged in outright chicanery and yet managed to retain an image (most of the time) of unassailable moral rectitude.
About the Author
Carl Bode, professor emeritus of English/American Studies at the University of Maryland, is a freelance writer. Founder and first president of the American Studies Assocation, he is also past president of he Popular Culture Association and the Mencken Society. His books include The American Lyceum, Antebellum Culture, and Mencken. He has edited Collected Poems of Henry Thoreau and The Best of Thoreau's Journals; and has co-edited The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau and, in collaboration with Malcolm Cowley, The Portable Emerson.