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TOM THUMB by George Sullivan


The Remarkable True Story of a Man in Miniature

by George Sullivan

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-547-18203-2
Publisher: Clarion Books

Long before the Internet, 24-hour news cycles and social networking, the 25-inch-tall General Tom Thumb was a household name in both the United States and Europe. Tom owed his celebrity and wealth to the marketing genius of master showman P.T. Barnum. This lively biography chronicles the remarkable life and career of Charles Sherwood Stratton, who was recruited by Barnum when he was 5 years old and rechristened General Tom Thumb. Under Barnum's tutelage, Tom learned skills that led him to become an accomplished entertainer. Not all of Barnum's influences were positive. "At five, Tom…was drinking wine with meals. At seven, he smoked cigars. By nine, he chewed tobacco. He never had a day of school." Sullivan notes that for a "human oddity" like Tom, there were few choices other than show business. (Regrettably, the author misses this opportunity to further explore the ethics of this sort of exploitation.) Tom was no ordinary sideshow attraction, appearing before Queen Victoria twice and becoming the toast of high society. He also enjoyed a happy marriage and his fame and fortune to the end of his eventful life. Tom's personal and professional relationships with Barnum make this biography a superb complement to Candace Fleming's The Great and Only Barnum (2009). (endnotes, bibliography, index) (Biography. 10-14)