The Great Southern Circus: From the Big Top to Gettysburg


The Great Southern Circus

[Reviewer]  The Great Southern Circus is an adventure-filled true love story by Nick West who uses rich historical details and family history to explain circus life before and during the Civil War.  A lovingly and authoritatively written history for current and future generations to enjoy and appreciate.

[Reviewer] The James and Miranda story, is a “story of love and passion, of hope in the midst of desperation, of life and death, of bravery, friendship and survival during that terrible conflict.” West brings these rich characters back to life so that we are able to use their stories to reach a better understanding of who we all are as a nation – as Americans.

[Reviewer] In the Great Southern Circus, Nick West helps us understand how America earned her motto “from many one,” and to empathize with those making that painful journey to get there.  Importantly, he uses this true story to help today’s readers to understand that the journey is not over, and that we still face the challenges of creating and sustaining a nation reflecting the many, but standing as One.

  • Digital, e-Book PDF format, one-click download
  • Pages: 453 (approximate, depending on the viewing device)
  • Illustrations: numerous illustrations, many in color, including rare images from the Library of Congress digital collection of the Civil War-era.
  • Hyperlinks: frequent hyperlinks to on-line resources that provide readers with additional perspectives and background.
  • Annotated: frequent notes and annotations by the author, many with hyperlinks, to provide balance and perspective to the illustrated stories.
The Great Southern Circus is a true story of family circus life in the 19th century…

…an under-the-tent-flap chronicle of the wanderings of the Great Southern Circus that opened in Wisconsin, and began a two-year odyssey through the central United States. Colorful, authentic, real-life adventures of Circus life for family members in the 19th century.

The Great Southern Circus tour was ended by the onset of the Civil War after it made 705 performances in 18 states and had ventured as far south as Central Florida.  West combines his grandmother’s oral history, plus additional oral history and stories passed down by descendants of other performers, with his own exhaustive research to tell us what happened to these family members during and after the Civil War.

It’s a love story…

…that follows James Johnston and Miranda Madeira from the time they met as teenagers near Albertville, Alabama, and then on to “the big top.” The James and Miranda love story is further enlivened with the once-in-a-lifetime adventure of traveling with the circus, essentially joining their close-knit family until it was torn apart by the Civil War.  Some family members joined the armies of their native states, while others remained loyal to the union.  Author Nick West puts flesh and real life adventures into the stories his grandmother told him about her grandparents who were performers in traveling circuses in the years before American Civil War.

It’s a Civil War story…

…with a sweep reminiscent of Michener’s finest, and with a personal sensitivity akin to Stephen Crane, when he writes of the sufferings of his characters as they try to survive Civil War battles and events, West shines an important new light of historical accuracy as he helps us understand how good people, north and south, of different races and ethnicities, were thrown by fate “to the dogs of civil war.”  Throughout, he never points fingers, or chooses sides when he is describing the wrenching events of this tragic period of American history.

With empathetic, but objective views, West explains the war through the eyes of the southern family, as well as family views reflecting Union allegiance. This new e-publication highlights and profiles real people and actual events, even though it is a work of historic short fiction.

The events that West so grippingly chronicles did happen, and his characters are all based on real people. When he extrapolates he does so from known factual information in his determined efforts to “bring my characters to life” on the pages of his new work. West is both a disciplined and an objective historian who met the challenge of using exhaustive research to separate normal oral history embellishments from actual fact.

His goal was to engage his readers in ways that brought these interesting characters and their adventure-filled lives back to life–to allow us to love them and understand them as much as he does. West provides impressive evidence of exhaustive research, examination of written correspondence, and insightful interpretation…


Available on backorder


Nick West was born in Gainesville, Florida and grew up on a family farm near Archer, Florida. He attended Gainesville High School and the University of Florida. He is a veteran of the United States Navy, and together with his family, has owned and operated a landscape business in the area for over forty years.

Nick and his wife, Kay, and their children, Tammy, John and Christy, along with their families all live on the farm where he grew up near Archer.

He began his writing career in 2010 when his first novel, “The Great Southern Circus” was published. His books include :

The Great Southern Circus: From the Big Top to Gettysburg
The Great Southern Circus
The Long Road Home
The Sandspur Special
To Light A New Fire