Bunk: The True Story of Hoaxes, Hucksters, Humbug, Plagiarists, Forgeries, and Phonies

Bunk: The True Story of Hoaxes, Hucksters, Humbug, Plagiarists, Forgeries, and Phonies Review

Has the hoax now moved from the sideshow to take the center stage of American culture?

Award-winning poet and critic Kevin Young tours us through a rogue s gallery of hoaxers, plagiarists, forgers, and fakers from the humbug of P. T. Barnum and Edgar Allan Poe to the unrepentant bunk of JT LeRoy and Donald J. Trump. Bunk traces the history of the hoax as a peculiarly American phenomenon, examining what motivates hucksters and makes the rest of us so gullible. Disturbingly, Young finds that fakery is woven from stereotype and suspicion, race being the most insidious American hoax of all. He chronicles how Barnum came to fame by displaying figures like Joice Heth, a black woman whom he pretended was the 161-year-old nursemaid to George Washington, and What Is It?, an African American man Barnum professed was a newly discovered missing link in evolution.

Bunk then turns to the hoaxing of history and the ways that forgers, plagiarists, and journalistic fakers invent backstories and falsehoods to sell us lies about themselves and about the world in our own time, from pretend Native Americans Grey Owl and Nasdijj to the deadly imposture of Clark Rockefeller, from the made-up memoirs of James Frey to the identity theft of Rachel Dolezal. In this brilliant and timely work, Young asks what it means to live in a post-factual world of truthiness where everything is up for interpretation and everyone is subject to a pervasive cynicism that damages our ideas of reality, fact, and art.

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Title:Bunk: The True Story of Hoaxes, Hucksters, Humbug, Plagiarists, Forgeries, and Phonies

    Some Testimonial About This Book:

  • My review for the Chicago Tribune: http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifesty...Most people probably know that the word “bunk” is short for “bunkum,” meaning insincere talk, claptrap or humbug. Few...

  • Kevin Young’s book is an exhaustive (and sometimes exhausting) chronicle of the American history of hoaxing. He details many, many hoaxes and highlights the racist dimensions embedded in many of the...

  • BUNK: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News. (2017). Kevin Young. ***1/2.I have to admit up-front that I did a lot of skimming while reading this book. It was no...

  • Fascinating (and possibly reassuring) look at the American history of faking it when it comes to information. Definitely not for the casual reader -- the book is dense, full of footnotes, and delves d...

  • History, written in a fairly entertaining way. ...

  • Our critical faculties seem neutralized by the lie we are ready to swallow. Bradlee said it: Beware of the lie you want to believe. The old ones are funny; the current ones are terrifying. ...

  • A masterpiece. How do you get this into the hands of every high school student? ...

  • Kevin Young recounts a history of hoaxes in the United States from P. T. Barnum to the present day, delving deep to look at ways in which hoaxers have influenced events, ideas, and even society as a w...

  • I know it’s not a good way to start a new year, but I couldn’t maintain a consistent interest in reading this book. I was initially interested in learning about hoaxes, humbugs and such, but the d...

  • I find that in my professional life, I spend a lot of time encouraging people to not believe everything they read on the internet. That just because someone somewhere says something is true doesn't ne...