With that in mind, here are a few questions we posed for Lukes.
You write that Barnum, Muir, and Earl each championed an aspect of beauty—women, wilderness, and machines, respectively. How so?
These powerful cultural entrepreneurs pioneered this interesting aesthetic synthesis of utility and the exquisite. Barnum’s entire career had a cohesive attention to disrupting the reputation of women with the help of some very interesting, and powerful, women and replacing it with this capable, enterprising entity that singer Jenny Lind, the “Swedish Nightingale,” represented in America.
You’re a political scientist. Why a book about beauty?