The Circus: 1870s–1950s

This coffetable art book (888 pages) was published in June of 2016 by Taschen. The book takes you to the circus. David read The Circus and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if he didn't recommend it.

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The Circus


Noel Daniel, Linda Granfield, Fred Dahlinger

Embark on a technicolor visual journey through the history of the American circus with this epic coffee table book. It’s packed with sharp prose, dazzling full-color photos, and vintage circus posters that defined mid-century design.

From the mid-1800s until just after WWII, traveling circuses were the greatest thing ever seen in entertainment. Traveling troupes that included daredevils, exotic animals, pretty girls in sparkly costumes, flying families, sideshow performers, and clowns crisscrossed the country by railroad — up to 20,000 miles per season — to bring spectacle to the far-flung cities and towns of the United States.

Audiences had literally never seen anything like it before. And this book is like a time machine back to an era when entertainment came to visit your hometown. This book is appropriately poster-sized, a personal circus museum you can carry with you.

Editor Noel Daniel has a keen eye and reportedly searched through about 300,000 images in archives and private collections to select these 900. The text is written by a circus historian and an actual circus ringmaster, so it sings with authenticity and insider detail.


photo of a clown

illustration of a lion tamer

vintage circus poster

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Every Friday, we share our favorite book- and travel-related links. This week, we've got magical novels by women, indulgent breakfasts, the glory of Taschen books, Harlem Renaissance, confusing words quiz, and more.
The circus is an enchanted place where people can fly and a big red nose is a happy sight. Where the smell of popcorn and peanuts mingles with sawdust. Where the unimaginable becomes completely possible before our eyes.

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