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on November 3, 2003
The obvious and initial impression of Mannix's book is that it contains 120 pages of large print text alongside pictures of popular and historic carnival freaks. This is a book whose initial publication harks from the mid seventies, so one may assume that much of the information provided, such as the prevalence of side shows and the handling of "freaks," is outdated twenty-seven years in the future. What is both relevant and helpful within the bounds of this text is the historicity of the given events and personas portrayed. There is some question as to the veracity of the statements made in that some of what Mannix writes in context does not seem to be very formal or serious. We may desire to look over this fact in that much of what Mannix writes in Freaks seems to be of great personal value and experience though it may not alleviate the strain. Daniel Mannix handles his subject matter comfortably. The pictures are often helpful, though sometimes graphic. The greatest complaint that I hold in regard to the pictures is that they seem to be somewhat disorganized in relation to the text; it is often helpful to place photographs of your subject matter with the text of your subject matter as opposed to the apparent alternative. Another point to make in the overall organization of the book is that it is sometimes redundant as Mannix tends to repeat information in latter chapters that he had already provided in former ones.

Freaks grants us a view of freakdom from the end those who are labeled as freaks due (generally) to a condition retained from a birth and existence that does not conform to the norms of our idea of normal. Some of those highlighted within the text are monstrously obese, others have three legs, a few even have two heads (or faces, such as Edward Mordake ), and still, Mannix tries to reveal these to live in some sort of paradox wherein they are the same while remaining unequivocally different than all of the world. One of the biggest points that Mannix tries to get across is that this difference has been, for centuries past, the livelihood for many of these freaks. From the times wherein they were found to be bound to kings and courts to the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as depicted in circus sideshows and carnivals, "freaks" have made fortunes by taking advantage of their mutated traits. The delineation may have been unknown, and yet their popularity as well unmatched by what other forms of "entertainment" existed during their time. The information provided, though seemingly first hand or closely networked, does not seem to be well researched or annotated. On the basis of this, we may not necessarily retain that Mannix's text is necessarily reliable nor may we ascertain that many of his stories of freaks past are essentially true (he even said that some of the stories were questionable). As a very general and entertaining work, this book may suffice. As an informative source, it does provide more information on freaks than I have personally read anywhere else (though I have never read any other works on freaks). This book has worked well to help whet my mind in the area of freaks, though I still think it a bit sketchy in the area of reliability.
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on August 3, 2001
Daniel Mannix introduces us into the world of "Freaks" and the history of sideshows. His adoration and interst in the subject matter is not a critical analysis, but rather a tender overview based on personal interactions. Freaks: We who are not as Others, is really like a scrapbook of photos and reflections. There are some rudimentary insights about the nature of freakdom, but this is not an academic document. Mannix clearly holds a bias in favour of freak shows and this can be interesting to consider in a time when we are overwhelmed by political correctness.
Some of the photos in the book are startling and disturbing, but the text is very accessible and easy to read, not unlike a journal. The book is a good choice for those wanting an introduction into the world of Freaks, or just a little trivia about some of the actors from the Wizard of Oz.
The nature of the material can be sad at times but Mannix maintains a very optimistic tone. His style is very casual and conversational.
I recommend taking a look at this book for the historical content, personal experience and general curiousity. This may be one of the few times in your life you will be allowed to gawk unabashedly at that which you have been trained to turn away from. Step Right Up, Ladies and Gentlemen!
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on March 2, 2000
I pre-ordered my copy of this book with a great deal of anticipation, and am still having mixed emotions about the purchase. Mr. Mannix's collection of pictures alone is likely worth the price of the book for many - I was, however, seeking something a little more researched and scholarly (not boring, just well put together and intelligent).
Mr. Mannix establishes himself in the first four or five pages an unapologetic reporter of inaccuracies (e.g. when he uses Helen Keller as an example of a 'freak', stating that she was born a blind, deaf mute... She was, in fact, born normal, and suffered these impairments as a result of a nearly lethal fever in infancy), and the publisher seems to have only given the text the most cursory of proofreadings (one 'freak', a midget, is referred to as having been the State Treasurer of "taxes" (he was the State Treasurer of TEXAS).
Am I picking nits? Absolutely. However, when I purchase a book I tend to expect something with a little more polish and depth than a high school research paper. Otherwise, for sheer annecdotal value, Mr. Mannix's book is an intresting and at times touching read. I would reccomend it to anyone for the pictures, and only the the exceedingly patient for the text.
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on June 14, 2002
It's easy to assume that this book is going to be a kind of titillating exploitative look at freaks, but that isn't what it is at all. Mannix draws from his extensive carnie experience to create a tender and even sweet look at people who were not like others around them. Mannix is clearly fueled by anger that political correctness has deprived these people of their means of earning a living and forced them into institutions. It's a way of thinking that I hadn't encountered before this book. He covers giants, midgets, people with parasitic twins, hermaphrodites, fat people, wild people and many others-- telling stories and anecdotes of his time on the road. Well worth the time.
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on June 9, 2000
This book contains some great photos of freaks but the writing is definitely not what I expected. It is mostly accounts of freaks who served in courts as jesters and other jobs. Yet, all the photos are of sideshow freaks from the late 1800's and early 1900's. I had assumed that the writing would be about the performers shown but most were not even mentioned. All in all, I did not like the way that the book was put together and wish I had not spent the money on it. For some though, the photos are worth the price of the book.
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on June 7, 1998
This book was given to me as a gift a few years back and has become one of my prized possesions. Everyone that comes to the house asks to see it. In addition to the wonderful photographs, thoughtful attention has been paid to describing the lives of the people discussed, along an interesting personal and historical perspective one doesn't often find in the more recent tomes concerned with "political correctness." This book's only failing is that there isn't more of it.
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on January 2, 2002
This is a very good book for the lover of oddities out there. I especially love the photos and the stories of these people. Very god book!! I recomend anyone interested in oddities to pick thsi gem up. There are many wonderful pictures. I am a huge fan of Jo-Jo The dog Faced boy.
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