Topsy (Kobo eBook)

Topsy Cover Image
Available Now


The true story of a nineteenth-century elephant caught between warring circuses and battling scientists, from the author of The Book of Mychal.

In 1903, on Coney Island, an elephant named Topsy was electrocuted. Many historical forces conspired to bring her, Thomas Edison, and those 6,600 volts of alternating current together that day. Tracing them all in Topsy, journalist Michael Daly weaves together a fascinating popular history, the first book to tell this astonishing tale.

At the turn of the century, circuses in America were at their apex with P. T. Barnum and Adam Forepaugh competing in a War of the Elephants. Their quest for younger, bigger, or more “sacred” pachyderms brought Topsy to America. Fraudulently billed as the first native-born elephant, Topsy was immediately caught between the disputing circuses as well as the War of the Currents, in which Edison and George Westinghouse (and Nikola Tesla) battled over the superiority of alternating versus direct current.

Rich in period Americana, and full of circus tidbits and larger than life characters, Topsy is a touching and entertaining read.

“A rollicking pachydermal tale . . . A summer escape.” —The New York Times

“A nineteenth-century reality show that boggles the mind as the pages fly by with events that have you laughing out loud one moment and gasping in disbelief the next.” —Tom Brokaw

“I’ve always respected Michael Daly as a great New York writer . . . He humanizes and speaks for those animals who cannot speak. He touches the hearts of those of us who are not animal activists.” —James McBride

“A skillfully told and admirably researched reminder of a time not as long ago as we’d like to think.” —The Wall Street Journal

Product Details
ISBN-13: 9780802194572
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press
Publication Date: July 1st, 2013