The Showman and the Slave by Benjamin Reiss
Race, Death, and Memory in Barnum's America

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Reiss uses P. T. Barnum's Joice Heth hoax to examine the contours of race relations in the antebellum North. Barnum's first exhibit as a showman, Heth was an elderly enslaved woman said to be the 161-year-old former nurse of the infant George Washington. Seizing upon the novelty, the newly emerging commercial press turned her act--and especially her death--into one of the first media spectacles in American history.

About Benjamin Reiss

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Benjamin Reiss is Professor of English, Emory University.
Published June 30, 2009 by Harvard University Press. 288 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, War. Non-fiction

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