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Books now available from CHS!

All proceeds from book sales go to support Bandwagon or other activities of the Circus Historical Society. Books are in new condition. Only a limited number of copies available. Order now!


Star Traveling Showmen, The American Circus Before the Civil War, by Stuart Thayer (paperback, new condition). Out of print. Books donated to CHS by the family of Stuart Thayer. Price: $30.00, plus $5.00 shipping and handling (USA); International: $30.00, plus $12.00 shipping and handling. Order here.

    • Starting with the often overlooked fact that the most important circus act is the purchase of a ticket, Thayer examines the financing, framing, staging, routing, advertising, and moving of a circus. Every page contains some wonderful and tasty tidbit to delight the reader! — David Price

    • Anyone who might have thought that nonfiction writing was dry and unimaginative will find portions of this book to be positively inspired. The chapter on “Going to the Show” is just short of poetry — Steve Gossard

    Traveling Showmen manages to cover nearly every aspect of the entertainment from the time J. Purdy Brown set out with the first circus tent in 1825 to Spalding and Rogers’ great Floating Palace on the eve of the Civil War. Besides adding considerably to our knowledge of circus history, the distillation of so much wisdom is an imposing achievement in itself. — A. H. Saxon

    • Stuart Thayer has distilled the wisdom and knowledge gathered from Annals into a beautifully written little masterpiece called Traveling Showmen. Organized topically, the book explored the origin and development of the business side of the traveling, tented circus. It also placed field shows in the context of Jacksonian America, exploring the impact of societal forces such as western population movement and improvements in transportation. Reading the book is a humbling experience. After only a few pages the reader becomes painfully aware how little he knew about the period. It is the smartest circus book ever written. Annals and Traveling Showmen brought a previously unknown level of research and analysis to the study of circus history. He examined the ante-bellum period with a thoroughness unequaled before or since for any period of show history. These two books are his legacy. No one ever said more about circus history in fewer words. — Fred D. Pfening III

    • For circus lovers, Traveling Showmen is a book long overdue. Add this book to his three volume Annals of the American Circus and there is no question as to Stuart Thayer’s pre-eminence among circus historians. — William L. Slout

    Devoted to scholarship, Stuart L. Thayer devoted much of his life to the study of American Circus History. He published one hundred or more articles on circus history. His Annals of the American Circus 1793-1860 is the premier work on the history of the circus. His Traveling Showmen is the finest single volume on American field shows history.

    Send your reader review of or comments on this book to circushistoricalsociety@gmail.com



Star Shrine Circus, A history of the Shrine Circus, by John H. McConnell. (hardcover, new condition) Out of print. Books donated to CHS by John McConnell. Price: $30.00, plus $6.00 shipping and handling (USA); International: $30.00, plus $13.00 shipping and handling.
Order here

    • To a large portion of the American public, there are two circuses: Ringling and the Shrine. McConnell's affectionate and rollicking history shines the laser beam of historical scholarship on this hugely important but little understood form of twentieth century circusing. — Fred D. Pfening III, Past President, Circus Historical Society.

    • If you've been unable to keep up with the ever-changing Shrine Circus phenomenon without a program, this is the book for you. It's all here: the personalities, the politics, the intrigue. Told with refreshing candor by one who has paid his dues, this fascinating account details every aspect of the operation and fills a much needed place in circus research. — Dave Price, Past Secretary-Treasurer, Circus Historical Society.

    • Provides important new insights into the complex dynamics involving show business, fraternal organizations, and medical charities that underlie this persuasive form of American culture. — William D. Moore, Director, Livingston Masonic Library, New York, New York.

    • Both sympathetic and accurate, this is one of the most concise and thorough studies available of the evolution of twentieth century American circus.

    John McConnell is also the author of Ring, a Horse and a Clown: An Eight Generation History of the Hannefords. He also served as a Trustee of the Circus Historical Society.

    Send your reader review of or comments on this book to circushistoricalsociety@gmail.com

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Contact CHS circushistory@gmail.com, last modified January 2014.