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The Great Southern Circus

Available on Barnes & Noble Nook e-book and at Amazon.COM
In the early summer of 1859, an Alabama farm boy named James Johnston had no idea that his life was about to change forever. The clouds of civil war were gathering when he met Miranda “Randi” Madderra, a beautiful young bareback rider with a small traveling circus. In The Great Southern Circus, a riveting first novel by Nick West, you will ride with the performers as they traverse the southeastern United States during these uncertain times In a little over two years, the circus traveled miles equal to a journey from the Atlantic to the Pacific and back through frontier country where there were no paved roads, few bridges, and poor directions between towns. They braved bad weather, illness, outlaws, accidents, and fire with every day presenting a new challenge. Despite these difficulties, from 1859-1861, Orton and Older’s Great Southern Circus completed an extended tour that began in Portage, Wisconsin, and traveled south through eighteen states, crossing state lines thirty-seven times in one hundred and twenty-three weeks. In horse-drawn wagons, they would traverse the Great Smoky, Appalachian, and Blue Ridge Mountains twice. The Great Southern Circus tells the true story of one circus family who made that tour. All the characters in this book were real people, and every incident mentioned in this narrative actually happened during that long journey. At the heart of this tale is a love story of a girl who performed with the circus and the young man who joined the circus just to be near her. The Great Southern Circus also tells the story of a young black man who joined the circus to search for his sister, who was a slave somewhere in the South. This is the true story of lifetime friendships formed during that tour; friendships that would bond men and women from the North and South, either black or white, in a love for each other that transcended the horror of War.

Reviews from Amazon.COM

  • “This is one of the most interesting books about the Circus and life as it was during the 19th Century. I could not put the book down!

  • “Mr. West is a very talented writer, giving us a beautiful love story along with lessons in life. I have known this family for a long time; heard stories about life, moving to Florida, trials and disappointments and I am looking forward to the sequel with much anticipation.”

  • “My only hope is that Mr. West will continue to write for our enjoyment!”

  • “I loved this book! The historical theme entwined with a touching love story was endearing. I cannot wait for the sequel.”

  • I wholeheartedly recommend this book (& it’s sequel when available) as a engrossing and poignant testimony to how much times have changed and how our ancestors endured so many hardships. It is a humbling and accurate portrayal of a life we can only, remotely imagine. Read the book and feel the trials and tribulations our ancestors have endured. Bask in their bonds of family ties and love everlasting (I hope)(the sequel, please!). “

  • “I started this book yesterday and finished it the same night. I honestly could not put it down. I will admit that I NEVER even thought of a circus during the Civil War Era. How dangerous the times were but what a GREAT adventure and love story. I MUST know more about the characters and what happened to them. I’m awaiting a sequel for SURE!!!”

  • “Nick West gives the reader a fascinating peek into circus lives in the mid-1800’s. His book is easy reading, yet his use of words gave me several opportunities to ponder events in the lives of his characters. This book is well-researched and well-written. I anxiously await the next chapter in this saga.”

  • “In researching my Madderra ancestors I found Nick West as a fellow researcher. When I learned he had written the story of James Thomas (J T) and Nancy Ann Lawless Madderra I immediately bought the book. The story was riveting and explained so much in such an enjoyable style that I could not put the book down!! The main love story is about the eldest daughter Miranda – and what a love story it is!! My great-grandmother was her little sister, Virginia, but to “meet” the rest of the siblings and Great-Greats has been such a wonderful treat for me. They come alive for me. To know the life of the circus in that era is fascinating!! It is amazing – the hardships and difficulties, and the sheer entertainment of circus life of their time! And what an adventure for them all! Relative or not, it is a beautiful book and can be enjoyed by all ages…I did not want it to end but to continue on and on and on. Thank you Nick West!! You have done a great job!! Continued success with the next volumes! And hurry up!!!”

  • “The Great Southern Circus is not only about circus folk in the 19th century in the southern United States. It also portrays the culture of the south and the character of our southern ancestors. Nick West captures the language and culture of the times, but most of all the fortitude, passion and creativeness of that generation. We are all so lucky to have have Nick share with us their fears, hopes and dreams. I am looking forward to reading the sequel. Great Book.”

  • “After reading The Great Southern Circus , I found it hard to believe that Nick West had not written before. The historical research really opened my eyes to what it must have been like to travel in a circus as the Civil War was approaching. The book left me wanting to know more~ as I reminded myself that this was indeed a “true” story! I so hope he continues to write. It was a great read!!”

  • “I have read other circus books and this one seems to more accurately portray circus life as it was in the mid 1800’s. My grandfather’s parents were both in the circus during this period of time. My grandfather told me his aunt was the most famous bare-back rider in the world. His aunt’s name was Miranda Madderra. James Thomas Madderra and Nancy Ann Lawles Madderra were his grandparents. These people are central characters in “The Great Southern Circus”. They have been accurately described in this book. This book was very exciting for me. I think you will enjoy it also.”

  • “I know this family, my family, lived through some terrible times during and after the Civil War. Many of them were involved in awful battles. Sherman marched through the Tennessee River Valley burning everything in his path. None of the family ever had slaves or were in favor of slavery, but they joined the Confederate Army when the Yankees invaded their territory.”

  • “I had never heard of Nick West before this book, but hope to meet him someday. It seems his father is my third cousin.”
  • The Great Southern Circus

    In the early summer of 1859, an Alabama farm boy named James Johnston had no idea that his life was about to change forever. The clouds of civil war were gathering when he met Miranda “Randi” Madderra, a beautiful young bareback rider with a small traveling circus

  • The Long Road Home

    The Long Road Home” is a personal story of the lives of James Johnston and Miranda Madderra, the characters you met in “The Great Southern Circus”. This time you will follow their emotional journey through the dark years of the American Civil War.It is a story of hope, despair, joy, heartache, bitter division and reconciliation on a personal level for friends divided by war.

  • The Sandspur Special

    From the author of The Great Southern Circus and The Long Road Home comes the highly anticipated sequel... Snakes, haints, and gators lie in wait for the Simmons family when they move south to north-central Florida in 1917.The family faces an uncertain and frightening future in this strange new land long before paved roads, electricity or indoor plumbing.

The Great Southern Circus

The First Book in the Long Road South Series....

The Long Road Home

The Second Book in The Long Road South Series....

The Sandspur Special

The Third and final Book in The Long Road South Series....

To Light a New Fire

The Book in To Light a New Fire Series....