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:

  • Kathleen

    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...

  • Tony

    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...

  • Audacia Ray

    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...

  • Stephanie

    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...

  • Grace Tenkay

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

  • Peter Mcloughlin

    Kaleidoscopic and wide-ranging but also rambling and unfocused. Young makes a myriad number of points and passing observations about hoaxes, race, history, otherness, conmen, hoaxing, default attitude...

  • Mike

    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. ...

  • Jason Diamond

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

  • Russell Fox

    Kevin Young's Bunk isn't, itself, "bunk," but there is a whole lot of posing and pretense in this long, ruminative, and ultimately unsatisfying study of "hoaxes, humbug, plagiarism, phonies, post-fact...

  • Samantha

    3.75 stars. A lot of mixed feelings here, but reading this was overall a very positive, thought-provoking experience. There is so much research here about the history of hoaxes, and the (not) surprisi...