Monday, July 02, 2012

A New Book-Novel on John Ringling

A new book now available on Amazon, Ringling: The Last Laugh, authored by Michael Lancaster, great grandson of Charles Ringling, will surely arrest early interest from all Ringlingphiles.

What puzzles me are two contradictory pitches, one stating "This is the real story of the Ringling Brothers as told by John Ringling, the last surviving brother, in 1936." Another item calls the book Lancaster's "first novel."

So what is it?

Here, from the Amazon listing:

"On a snowy spring night in New York, in 1936, John Ringling, the Great Circus King, exited Madison Square Garden through a dark back alley. He walked out to 49th Street and met an old friend he hadn't seen in decades. Ringling, almost seventy, was disheveled and alone. The two of them sat at a bar near Union Square, where John Ringling recounted the story of the five Ringling brothers, their circus, and John's story as the last one on the lot. Seemingly in ruin then, John Ringling has had the Last Laugh, not only on those who forsook him but on the amusement world and the art world."

Lancaster claims to have "spent over thirty years listening to the stories of the famed Boys From Baraboo."

Sounds intriguing. There is yet to be a major book about arguably America's greatest big top tycoon, Mr. John, as they called him, by far the most egotistic and flamboyant of the brothers, who lived a life full of drama, complete with a tragic ending. He realized near-singular power during the roaring twenties -- and then lost nearly everything. Might this be that book? If not, let's hope it leads to that book.


Michael Lancaster said...

I won't comment directly about my book, except to say that I followed history, often to the exact day, and wove the family stories into the timeline. Having read some of David's work, I am honored that he would take the time to mention my book.
I would like to add that throughout most of John Ringling''s life he was known on the lot as "Mr Ringling," on the lot, rather than Mr John, unlike his brothers who were always Mr Charley, Mr Otto, Mr Alf T., etc. Toward the end of his life he was going through a shift and so enjoyed being called Mr John.

Michael Lancaster

Showbiz David said...


I wish you luck with your book.