We Are All His Creatures: Tales of P. T. Barnum, the Greatest Showman

Candlewick. Mar. 2020. 288p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780763659813.
Gr 7 Up–This collection of connected short stories is a look into the behind-the-scenes life of P.T. Barnum, focusing on his family and the “living curiosities” who performed for him. The chronologically organized vignettes paint a picture of a profit-driven opportunist who capitalized on the imagination of his inner child and the public’s fascination with the eccentric until Barnum’s death at age 80. The stories are rich in detail and place the reader in the mid-1800s, when industry regulations were few (Barnum’s American Museum burned down more than once) and high society was often unabashedly captivated by other people’s misfortunes. The most affecting tales are those that involve Barnum’s daughters and how they each adjusted to being the progeny of a famous and unconventional figure. Noyes follows them from childhood through adulthood and deftly ties their narratives together in the final chapter. While Barnum has been criticized for exploiting his performers, that issue is not explored significantly in the stories. As these accounts are fictionalized, readers are left to decide for themselves how much truth each piece holds.
VERDICT An entertaining, absorbing look at the prominent figures in Barnum’s life that will appeal to his fans and history buffs in general. Recommended.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing