The Advance Man
A behemoth of a book just came out, which is a 660 page tell all by Jamie McVicar about his days as an Advance man for Ringling.
For those not in the know, the Advance man is the promoter of the show who travels in advance of the circus, making sure that all of the publicity is done, that the billboards are up, that the tickets are selling, that the promotions are working– anything at all to make sure that when the 200 people, 300 animals, and 500 tons of train that make up the circus roll into town, that there are no impediments and that everything runs smoothly.
It’s a fascinating look inside of The Greatest Show on Earth, including the politics and marketing strategies. And very well written to boot!
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Here’s what the publisher says about it:
“From here on in you’ll be living on the road, your life’s belongings in a suitcase. Do you think you’d enjoy that?”
And so begins a fascinating journey into the world of the circus as Jamie MacVicar skillfully blends the secrets of marketing and promotion as taught by the masters, a captivating personal tale, and an inside look at an American icon, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
Richly textured and meticulously researched, The Advance Man is an incomparable bridge from the circus past to the present. It is a spellbinding narrative inhabited by strange and seductive characters: Chang and Eng, the Siamese twins who couldn’t be engaged in unlike conversations simultaneously; Irvin Feld, the Napoleonic genius who wrested control of the circus from Ringling’s heir; the smallest man in the world who continuously stymied the show s most virile man; the naive, young woman who risked too much aspiring to become a model; the Cleveland tycoon and a host of others from extraordinary everyday people to well-known celebrities.
From San Diego to Cleveland to moss-draped, beguiling Savannah, the story illuminates the fabric of American citiesâ€”their cultures and moresâ€”and reveals a tapestry at the heart of who we are. We almost forget that this is a true story when MacVicar leisurely pulls us in and then masterfully sets the hook. “Until now you ve been with me and the circus, ” a fellow promoter warns. “Wait until it’s just you, and you re all alone for weeks before the show arrives. “
As events gather speed, catapulting the reader and the advance man down a heart-pounding track, it becomes easy to forget that “sometimes the most complex illusions have the simplest explanations.”
Artfully, MacVicar invites us into a world of splashing color while the story within the story comes to light. Whether the reader is a history or circus enthusiast, a student of business, or just the lover of a remarkable yarn, the ride will be memorable, as unforgettable as a childhood night at the circus.