“Exercising his eye for exotic detail, Les Standiford gives us the charming and captivating saga of the outsized characters who dreamed, connived, and maneuvered to bring Gilded-Age America its most compelling source of entertainment—the circus. What a surprise to learn that behind all those bejeweled elephants and hair-raising acts lay a cutthroat battle to create the Greatest Show on Earth.”—Erik Larson, author of The Splendid and the Vile
“A mesmerizing, larger-than-life tale from brilliant storyteller Les Standiford--P.T. Barnum himself would tell you it's well worth the price of admission. With acrobatic grace and escalating suspense, Standiford documents the evolution of the American circus, in a masterful work of nonfiction as spell-binding as the monsters, mermaids, balletic elephants and charismatic ringleaders that fill its pages.”—Karen Russell, author of the New York Times bestseller Swamplandia!
“Battle for the Big Top is as rollicking, infectious, and enthralling as the subject it covers. With verve and style to spare, Les Standiford spins an unforgettable and addictively readable yarn about the three great showmen of the wildest of all entertainments—the American Circus. What a blast.”—Dennis Lehane, author of Mystic River and Shutter Island
“An epic work of Americana that gives you a front row seat inside the big top. Les Standiford delves deeply into the history of one of America’s favorite and oldest pastimes, examining the three dynamic men who revolutionized it.”—Brad Meltzer, bestselling author of The Lincoln Conspiracy
“Les Standiford understands that to know the American soul, one needs to understand the circus. Ambitious, insightful and chock full of exotic lore, Battle for the Big Top goes beyond the ballyhoo and delivers the strange and fascinating history of the Greatest Show on Earth.”—Stewart O’Nan, author of The Circus Fire
"Les Standiford takes us under the big top and behind the curtain in this richly researched and thoroughly engaging narrative that captures all of the entrepreneurial intrigue and spirit of the American circus. Fascinating and endlessly entertaining, you won't be able to put Battle for the Big Top down."—Gilbert King, Pulitzer prizewinning author of Devil in the Grove
“A blow-by-blow account of the rivalry among James Bailey, John Ringling, P.T. Barnum, and other players in the American circus world…Fans of the circuses of old, as well as students of popular culture, will enjoy this look back.”—Kirkus Reviews
“A zippy history of Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus… Standiford packs the account with colorful circus lore…Readers will relish this entertaining portrait of a bygone American institution.”—Publishers Weekly