Review: The Big Book of Hoaxes (Factoid Books, Paradox Press)

The Big Book of Hoaxes: True Tales of the Greatest Lies Ever Told! (Factoid Books) - Carl Sifakis

Each "article" consists of two or more pages of comics. There are seven sections in the Bibliography at the end of the book, and multiple sources are listed under each topic section. Multiple artists create the comics, so the style of artwork changes throughout the book. (All of the above is true for all the Big Book of Comics. Or all the ones I've read, anyway.)


I'm not sure exactly how to rate this on a scale of "how everyone else rates books" - mainly because all comics/graphic novels are sort of a special category for me. It's not that I wasn't allowed to buy comics when I was little - it's just that my parents really wanted me to read "real" books instead, and never had any problem providing me with more of them. So they weren't forbidden, just rare, and I somehow didn't go to many stores that sold them. When I did and found one I wanted, it was a special sort of treat. And so now there's still a fun sort of thrill for me when I read comics of any kind.


Of course the Big Book Of series aren't children's comics - the titles alone make that fairly clear. The whole series picks up on the "strange but true" sorts of facts that have always made interesting stories. 


Like all the Big Book Of comics there's really too much content here for me to cover everything - so I'll just pass along the table of contents. For those of you who can't wait for the book to learn the hoax information (and the sections sound interesting enough so that I know I'd be in that group myself) - I've added links (most are to wikipedia, if there was an entry) so you can absorb some odd history.


1) The Art of the Hoax
Fritz Kreisler: Manufacturing Musical Masterpieces (wiki)
Billy Tipton's Secret (wiki)
Alceo Dossena: The Man Who Made Genuine Fakes (wiki)
Elmer de Hory (wiki)
The "Autobiography" of Howard Hughes (wiki)
The Hitler Diaries (wiki)
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion (wiki)

2) Media Hoaxes
The BBC Riot Panic (Museum of Hoaxes, BBC Radio 4)
War of the Worlds (wiki)
The Many Hoaxes of Ben Franklin (Museum of Hoaxes)
The Mother of All "Get-Rich-Quick" Schemes (Cat and Rat Ranch Hoax:
The Sun and The Moon (The Great Moon Hoax: wiki)
The Balloon Hoax of Edgar Allen Poe (wiki)
A Fit of Presidential Pique (Great Civil War Gold Hoax: wiki, wiki2)
The Animals Are Loose! (New York Zoo Hoax: wiki)
The Four Reporters and the Boxer Rebellion (Great Wall of China Hoax: wiki)
The Teddy Bear Hoax (Note that bear was shot, just not by Teddy: wiki)
Hearst's Hoaxes (Museum of Hoaxes)
The Killer Hawk of Chicago (Museum of Hoaxes)
Lou Mortison's Lester Green and his Homespun Ingenuity (journalist's alter ego)
Joe McCarthy's List (wiki)
Janet Cooke and the Pulitzer Prize (wiki)

3) Scientific Hoaxes
Mary Toft: The Bunny Mommy (wiki)
The Piltdown Man (wiki)
The Cottingley Fairy Photos (wiki)
Bill Stump's Stone (Grave Creek Stone: wiki)
Jay Levy: Psychic Researcher (wiki)
Cecil Jacobson: Sperm Doctorer (wiki)
David Rorvik and The Cloning of a Man (wiki)

4) Mass Hysteria
Sawing Manhattan in Half (wiki,
The Possessed Nuns of Loudun (wiki)
Tulip Mania (wiki)
The Toughest Town West of Chicago (Palisade, NV: wiki)
The Silver Lake Serpent (wiki, Skeptical Inquirer)

5) Imposters and Fakers
The Peculiar Case of Princess Caraboo (wiki)
Doin' a Brodie (wiki)
George Psalmanazar: The Formosan Cannibal (wiki)
The Captain of Kopenik (Wilhelm Voigt: wiki)
Hoaxing the King (wiki)
Stanley Clifford Weyman: Imposter Extraordinaire (wiki)
The Dreadnaught Hoax (wiki)
Paglino (Albert Palino: Malefactor's Register)
Rosie Ruiz: Marathon Phony (wiki)
George Dupre: The Man Who Talked Too Much (wiki)

6) Pranksters and Scam Artists
Joey Skaggs (wiki)
Harry Reichenbach: Hollywood's King of Ballyhoo (wiki)
Brian G. Hughs: Prince of Jokers (wiki)
Hugh Troy: The Unrepentent Prankster (wiki)
Cream Pie Charlie (1940s counterfeit nickels)
Ponzi Discovers Money (wiki)
The Health Dividend (insurance fraud)
George Parker: The Man Who Sold New York (wiki)
Frederick Von Mierers (cult leader: Freedom of Mind, Askville, New York Magazine)
Barry Minkow: The Whiz Kid of Wall Street (wiki)
Queen on the Lonely Hearts (Susanna Mildred Hill: wiki)

7) Scams (List of Confidence Tricks: wiki, Encyclopedia of Scams)
The Badger Game (wiki)
Doing the Mall Check Hustle
The Panel Game
The Crapper Hustle
Murphy Man
The Mary Ellen Mob
Gas Game
3-Card Monte (wiki)
Pigeon Drop (wiki)
Dog Scam
Pickpockets (wiki)
The Obituary Hustle

Front-End Scams
The Service Station Racket