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Download Topsy: The Startling Story of the Crooked Tailed Elephant, P. T. Barnum, and the American Wizard, Thomas Edison : The Startling Story of the Crooked-Tailed Elephant, P. T. Barnum, and the American Wizard, Thomas Edison Audiobook (Unabridged)

Extended Audio Sample Topsy: The Startling Story of the Crooked Tailed Elephant, P. T. Barnum, and the American Wizard, Thomas Edison (Unabridged): The Startling Story of the Crooked-Tailed Elephant, P. T. Barnum, and the American Wizard, Thomas Edison, by Michael Daly
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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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Step right up, folks, and read all about it! The amazing tale of elephants, electricity, Edison and Barnum, stunts, fights, and ghastly events. Topsy is a nineteenth-century reality show that boggles the mind as the pages fly by with events that have you laughing out loud one moment and gasping in disbelief the next.”

    Tom Brokaw

  • “Remarkable…Daly’s fascinating, nuanced portraits of the seedy sides of the circus’ heyday and the dawn of the electric age make for incredibly entertaining reading.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred, boxed review)

  • “The story of the sadly electrocuted elephant Topsy is actually two stories: one of circuses and one of the fight over electricity standards. Mark Peckham narrates the exploits of the two men who figure most in those stories with dramatic emphasis. He brings to life the boasting and trickery of P. T. Barnum and the strident statements of Thomas Edison with equal skill. Peckham creates mental pictures skillfully, re-creating a past era and the lives of two of its legends…A fascinating listen.”

    AudioFile

  • “A fascinating and moving piece of American history and a meditation on the cost of entertainment and human progress.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “This book should be read by anyone who’s ever been to the circus…I’ve always respected Michael Daly as a great New York writer. But here, he reaches out to the world beyond New York and goes deep. The results are extraordinary.”

    James McBride, author of The Color of Water

  • A Barnes & Noble Best Book of June 2013
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About the Author

Michael Daly has been a newspaper journalist and columnist for many years, currently with the New York Daily News. He is the author of The Book of Mychal: The Surprising Life and Heroic Death of Father Mychal Judge, which is about his friend, an FDNY chaplain who died in the 9/11 attack. In 2002 Daly was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary. He lives in Brooklyn.