Flint Memorial Library (North Reading)

Bunk, the rise of hoaxes, humbug, plagiarists, phonies, post-facts, and fake news / Kevin Young - paperback

"Award-winning poet and critic Kevin Young traces the history of the hoax as a peculiarly American phenomenon--the legacy of P.T. Barnum's 'humbug' culminating with the currency of Donald J. Trump's 'fake news'. Disturbingly, Young finds that fakery is woven from stereotype and suspicion, with 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 like Nasdijj to the deadly imposture of Clark Rockefeller, from the made-up memoirs of James Frey to the identity theft of Rachel Dolezal. This brilliant and timely work 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."--Dust jacket flap
Table Of Contents
Book one: A history of the hoax. One: The American museum : on the madness of crowds. ; The age of imposture ; The freaks of Dame Fortune ; Splitfoot ; Bearded ladies -- Two: Neverland : on race & other popular delusions. Cowboys & aliens ; Blood nation ; Lost boys ; The time machine -- Three: Mysteria : a sideshow. The heart is deceitful ; Eve Black -- Book two: The hoaxing of history. Four: The vampire's mirror : of imposture, forgery & monsters. Butterfly books ; Spruce goose ; Bakelite ; The vampire's wife -- Five: Hack heaven : of the journalist & the liar. Glass ceilings ; The gingerbread man ; In bad blood ; Burning down -- Six : Unoriginal sin : on plagiary, murder, bad poetry & other crimes. Blacker than thou ; Professor Plum ; Ghostbusters ; Michael Brown's body -- Coda: The age of euphemism
Literary Form
non fiction
Physical Description
560 pages, illustrations, 24 cm

Library Locations

  • Flint Memorial Library (North Reading)

    147 Park Street, North Reading, MA, 01864, US