Now that it's been a few years since Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey shut down, historians can look back and say about circuses, "What the hell was that all about?" Circuses were hotbeds of animal cruelty, exploitation of the disabled and the foreign, and who the hell thought it was a good idea to expose children to clowns? With a historian's careful eye, Miami's own Les Standiford takes us on a tour on the origins of the biggest circus of them all in his new book, Battle for the Big Top: P.T. Barnum, James Bailey, John Ringling, and the Death-Defying Saga of the American Circus. Standiford's heavily researched tome brings alive a bygone America filled with eccentric characters like Barnum and Ringling, who monetized a culture in which every child dreamed of running away and joining the circus.