I decided to read this to give me a little background before reading ‘The Mermaid’ and i’m really glad i did. What a wonderful piece of history and a very interesting man.
I think, after reading this book, that if we want to blame anyone for the current cult of celebrity, modern advertising and marketing, tabloid journalism, etc., then we need look no further than P.T. Barnum. While he may, or may not, have invented these things, he certainly brought them all together and exploited them in ways that no one was prepared for.
I do feel that this book does him justice though. In exploring his background and reasons, from a stifled puritan childhood in a stifled puritan village, it seems his main driving force was to make life fun and interesting for all and sundry. And his determination and drive to get things done and suceed was quite incredible.
My only complaint about this book is the timeline gets a little confused in places, hopping back and forward and back again and forward again. But, it’s still very much worth reading as it exposes a lot about today’s modern world of celebrity, pop culture, tabloid journalism, advertising and marketing. Maybe people shouldn’t be so gullible, but when people’s lives are so dull and tragic they’ll flock to anything that anyone markets to them that they want to believe, whether it’s true or not. And people’s lives are probably more dull and tragic now than they have ever been.
And so i’m now really looking forward to reading ‘The Mermaid’ and i’ll let you know if learning about Barnum was a good idea or not.