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

Author: Michael Daly
Publisher: New York : Atlantic Monthly Press, [2013]
Edition/Format:   Book : Biography : English : First EditionView all editions and formats
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
Describes how a circus elephant named Topsy was electrocuted in 1903 with 6,600 volts of alternating current as proof that it was much more dangerous than direct current in an ongoing dispute between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse.
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Details

Genre/Form: Biography
Named Person: P T Barnum; Thomas A Edison
Material Type: Biography
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Michael Daly
ISBN: 0802119042 9780802119049
OCLC Number: 850420895
Notes: Includes index.
Description: viii, 369 pages, 8 pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm
Contents: The 200-pound baby --
The Elephant --
Barnum --
The Elephantine Expedition --
Ugly --
The War between the States, the Battle of the Dwarfs --
4-Paw --
The fire, the plowing elephant, the panic, and the "dusky attendant" --
Crooked tale, crooked tail --
The continued magic of kindness and the first beauty contest --
The Wizard --
The White Elephant War --
Eph's escape, pickpockets, and pink lemonade --
The Tree of Knowledge and the Fearless Frogman --
Another war begins --
The executioner's experiments --
The Chair --
Westinghoused --
Reading your own obituary --
The great name vanishes --
Topsy somersaults, gold dust and Duncan get a home --
The Wizard's latest marvel and so many elephants --
Sid Sorrows, Topsy traipses --
Topsy and the tormentor --
From Lady Moody to the billion-dollar smile --
"Here I am! Here I am! Where are you?" --
The big swim.
Responsibility: Michael Daly.

Abstract:

Describes how a circus elephant named Topsy was electrocuted in 1903 with 6,600 volts of alternating current as proof that it was much more dangerous than direct current in an ongoing dispute between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse.

At the turn of the century, the circus in America was at its apex with the circuses of P.T. Barnum and Adam Forepaugh competing in a War of the Elephants, with declarations of whose pachyderms were younger, bigger, or more "sacred". This brought Topsy to America. In 1903, on Coney Island, Topsy was electrocuted, a victim of the War of the Currents, in which Edison, George Westinghouse, and Nikola Tesla battled over alternating versus direct current. Daly weaves together period Americana, circus tidbits and larger than life characters for an entertaining read.

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