Les Standiford

Cindy Seip

Les Standiford is the author of several books, including Last Train to Paradise: Henry Flagler and the Spectacular Rise and Fall of the Railroad that Crossed an Ocean, Meet You in Hell: Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clay Frick, and the Bitter Partnership That Transformed America, and Bringing Adam Home: The Abduction That Changed America. He is also a professor of English and the founding director of the Creative Writing Program at Florida International University. In Battle for the Big Top: P.T. Barnum, James Bailey, John Ringling, and the Death-Defying Saga of the American Circus (PublicAffairs), Standiford brings to life a remarkable era when Bailey, Barnum, and Ringling vied for control of the profitable and influential American circus. Their rivalry ultimately resulted in the creation of an institution that would surpass all intentions – and hold a nation spellbound for 147 years. Battle for the Big Top is filled with details of their showmanship, business acumen, and personal charm. Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia!, called it “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. … a masterful work of nonfiction.”