Topsy: the startling story of the crooked-tailed elephant, P.T. Barnum, and the American wizard, Thomas Edision

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In 1903, on Coney Island, an elephant named Topsy was electrocuted, and over the past century, this bizarre, ghoulish execution has reverberated through popular culture with the whiff of urban legend. But it really happened, and many historical forces conspired to bring Topsy, Thomas Edison, and those 6600 volts of alternating current together that day. Tracing them all in Topsy The Startling Story of the Crooked Tailed Elephant, P.T. Barnum, and the American Wizard, Thomas Edison , journalist Michael Daly weaves together a fascinating popular history, the first book on this astonishing tale. At the turn of the century, the circus in America was at its apex with the circuses of P.T. Barnum and Adam Forepaugh (or 4-Paw) competing in a War of the Elephants, with declarations of whose pachyderms were younger, bigger, or more "sacred". This brought Topsy to America, fraudulently billed as the first native-born, and caught between the circus disputes and the War of the Currents, in which Edison and George Westinghouse (and Nikola Tesla) battled over alternating versus direct current. Rich in period Americana, and full of circus tidbits and larger than life characters--both human and elephant--Topsy is a touching tale and an entertaining read.
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ISBN:
9780802119049
9781624606342
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Grouped Work ID b87bc393-290c-a7db-7ee8-0ae2734f8f7f
Grouping Title topsy the startling story of the crooked tailed elephant p t barnum and the american wizard thomas e
Grouping Author daly michael
Grouping Category book
Last Grouping Update 2018-09-20 23:34:33PM
Last Indexed 2018-09-21 00:30:15AM

Solr Details

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author Daly, Michael, 1952-
author_display Daly, Michael
available_at_catalog Main Kids, Main Library
collection_catalog Non-Fiction
detailed_location_catalog Main Library - Adult Non-Fiction
display_description

In 1903 at the soon-to-open Luna Park on Coney Island, an elephant named Topsy was electrocuted, likely with advice from Thomas Edison, whose film crew recorded the horrible event. Over the past century, this bizarre, ghoulish execution has reverberated through popular culture with the ring of an urban legend. But it really happened, and today, Edison's footage can be found on YouTube, where it has been viewed nearly two million times.

Many historical forces conspired to bring Topsy, Edison, and those 6,600 volts of alternating current together at Coney Island that day. Journalist Michael Daly's Topsy is a fascinating popular history that traces them, from the rise of the circus in America and the lives of circus elephants, through Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse, and the war of the currents, to the birth of Coney Island.

Throughout the book, Daly follows Topsy's picaresque life up to the point of her death, from her capture, the roar of the crowd, life on the endless road, and the tormenting of her trainers, weaving her tale through other big stories such as P. T. Barnum and Adam Forepaugh's circus rivalry, trainers Stewart Craven and Eph Thompson's kindness to the animals, and Thomas Edison's attempt to prove alternating current was far more dangerous than his direct current. It's a touching tale, and it is impossible to read Topsy and look at the circus, elephants, or Thomas Edison the same way again. Above all, Topsy is an entertaining read that brings to life this remarkable world and its characters.

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literary_form_full Non Fiction
local_callnumber_catalog 791.32 D1536t
owning_library_catalog Nashville Public Library
owning_location_catalog Main Kids, Main Library
primary_isbn 9780802119049
publishDate 2013
record_details ils:CARL0000416095|Book|Books|1st ed.|English|Atlantic Monthly Press,|c2013.|viii, 369 p. : col. ill. ; 24 cm., overdrive:f78c3286-b0df-4103-94f9-53e509e4cfc1|eAudiobook|Audio Books||English|Blackstone Publishing|2013|
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Bib IdItem IdGrouped StatusStatusLocally OwnedAvailableHoldableBookableIn Library Use OnlyLibrary OwnedHoldable PTypesBookable PTypesLocal Url
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subject_facet Barnum, P. T. -- (Phineas Taylor), -- 1810-1891, Circus -- United States -- History, Circus owners -- United States -- Biography, Edison, Thomas A. -- (Thomas Alva), -- 1847-1931, Electrocution -- Experiments, Inventors -- United States -- Biography, Topsy (elephant)
title_display Topsy : the startling story of the crooked-tailed elephant, P.T. Barnum, and the American wizard, Thomas Edision
title_full Topsy : the startling story of the crooked-tailed elephant, P.T. Barnum, and the American wizard, Thomas Edision / Michael Daly, Topsy The Startling Story of the Crooked Tailed Elephant, P. T. Barnum, and The American Wizard, Thomas Edison
title_short Topsy :
title_sub the startling story of the crooked-tailed elephant, P.T. Barnum, and the American wizard, Thomas Edision
topic_facet Barnum, P. T, Circus, Circus owners, Edison, Thomas A, Electrocution, Experiments, History, Inventors, Nonfiction, Topsy (elephant)