A Story of Ambition in 50 Hoaxes: From the Trojan Horse to Fake Tech Support (History in 50) (Paperback)
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Starred Youth Services Book Review
What do the Trojan Horse, Piltdown Man, Keely Motor Company, and Ponzi Scheme have in common? They were all famous hoaxes, carefully designed and bolstered with false evidence.
The con artists in this book pursued a variety of ambitions—making money, winning wars, mocking authority, finding fame, trading an ordinary life for a glamorous one—but they all chose the lowest, fastest road to get there. Every hoax is a curtain, and behind it is a deceiver operating levers and smoke machines to make us see what is not there and miss what is. As P.T. Barnum knew, you can short-circuit critical thinking in any century by telling people what they want to hear. Most scams operate on a personal scale, but some have shaped the balance of world power, inspired explorers to sail uncharted seas, derailed scientific progress, or caused terrible massacres. A HISTORY OF AMBITION IN 50 HOAXES guides us through a rogue’s gallery of hustlers, liars, swindlers, imposters, scammers, pretenders, and cheats. In Gale Eaton’s wide-ranging synthesis, the history of deception is a colorful tour, with surprising insights behind every curtain.
Fountas & Pinnell Level Z+
About the Author
Gale Eaton has spent a lifetime with books for children and young adults, first as a children’s librarian at the Boston Public Library and the Berkshire Athenaeum, and later as a professor of children’s literature at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Library and Information Studies. She is the author of four other books.
Phillip Hoose is the widely acclaimed author of books, essays, stories, songs, and articles including the National Book Award - and Newbery Honor - winning book Claudette Colvin: Twice toward Justice and the Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor winner The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club. A graduate of Indiana University and the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Sciences, Hoose was for 37 years a staff member of The Nature Conservancy, dedicated to preserving the plants, animals, and natural communities of the Earth.
This highly entertaining and unusual book takes a fresh and sophisticated approach to world history. Brief but informative sections detail hoaxes and unsolved mysteries from ancient times to the present, and from the familiar (the Trojan Horse) to the more obscure (the 1971 discovery of alleged Stone Age tribe the Tasaday). A fascinating read for high schoolers and adults. Extensive source notes are appended. Glos., ind. Subjects: General and World History; Swindlers and swindling; Hoaxes; Behavior—Truthfulness and falsehood
— Horn Book
The hoaxes here are colorful by far. Eaton
doesn't sensationalize them; the stories [are] allowed to speak for themselves,
and they display great grip. There is a hoax for every mood: cheat, propaganda,
assault, cruelty, inventions of merit, a more nuanced appreciation of art, and
marvel. We have met the hoaxsters, and they are us: family stories, human
progress, and often enough the pinball nature of our history.
In a broad-ranging and fascinating study of artifice, Eaton raises intriguing questions about human instincts, especially the ones to deceive and believe. Simultaneously available: A History of Travel in 50 Vehicles. Ages 12–up.
— Publishers Weekly