Book by Stein, Gordon
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This is a serious treatment of a subject that in different forms can be clever, funny, outrageous, or tragic. Several hundred hoaxes are arranged here under such subjects as archaeology, business, education, history, law, literature, photography, and travel. Most of the entries were written by Stein, the author of the Encyclopedia of Unbelief, but five people contributed signed articles, such as UFO Hoaxes and Sociology and Psychology of Hoaxes.
Hoaxes as old as the Piltdown Man and as recent as Milli Vanilli are described. In the section on anthropology, questions are raised about the writings of Carlos Castaneda and the work of Margaret Mead. The literary forgeries of Thomas J. Wise, the Hitler Diaries, Mark Hofmann and the Mormon forgeries, and Janet Cooke and the Pulitzer Prize are all described. Even baseball's history is based on a hoax, since the assumption that it started with Abner Doubleday is a falsehood.
Most entries are followed by a list of further reading. A lengthy general bibliography at the end of the book is arranged in the same fashion as the hoaxes. In the index, access is provided to names and subjects. A few black-and-white photographs, most of them portraits, are provided.
The Encyclopedia of Hoaxes and Scams [RBB O 15 93] has some overlap with this book (Atlantis, Bigfoot, Caraboo Princess, Cardiff Giant) but stresses consumer scams. It does not provide any references for further reading and has a very brief bibliography, so for research purposes, The Encyclopedia of Hoaxes is preferable for secondary school and public library reference collections.From Library Journal:
This encyclopedia is in many ways similar to Facts on File's Hoaxes and Scams ( LJ 8/93): it covers much the same ground and even looks nearly identical in layout. Gale's book, however, eschews cons and scams and focuses strictly on hoaxes, which it defines as intentional deception. In spite of this criteria, many nonhoaxes appear, such as the uncontrollable rumors concerning the Proctor & Gamble logo, the War of the Worlds broadcast, and research by sincere if misguided individuals. In one section, seven pages are spent in a scientific refutation that Noah's Ark could ever have existed, an incongruous piece to appear here. Stein (Univ. of Rhode Island) takes his subject seriously, giving the book a lecturing tone, and he employs an overkill of italics, perhaps to assure that readers not miss any points. Some entries, written by contributors, are signed, and a list of sources concludes each section. The book is organized into 27 subject categories (e.g., art hoaxes, literary hoaxes) and concludes with a bibliography that is nothing more than a reprinting of the source notes, again by subject. Inexcusably, the volume is laced with typos, mispunctuations, and proofreading oversights. Of the recent titles on hoaxes, Facts on File's is preferred. For public and academic libraries.
- James Moffet, Baldwin P.L., Birmingham, Mich.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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