2 Followers
20 Following
ereksonj

ereksonj

The Giant and How He Humbugged America - Jim Murphy Inspired by the Bernie Madoff scheme, Murphy decided to write something about hoaxes in general. The basic underpinning is that people believe what they really want to believe, and that a compelling narrative often beats out rational and empirical evidence. I enjoyed each phase in the Cardiff Giant's travels through the entertainment world, including erstwhile Mormon sensationalist. The fact that there was a general buzz in the country, a desire for some story like this giant, tells something about the emerging mass media and information ages. This story made me feel like the people of the US were hungry for mass media long before it arrived, and that hoaxes like this were a bit easier to perpetrate because they were good entertainment. Newspapers were already in play, but live entertainment was still central, and this kind of sensational find was interesting.

Murphy made interesting choices of visuals, including the few photos he could gather of the stone behemoth itself. What is impressive are the full source notes, which lead to primary and contemporary secondary sources. This book is in the top ranks for sourcing, and because the hoax topic is broad and conceptual instead of linked directly to only this featured example, it is a book that cannot be replaced easily by a simple trip to wikipedia. It would be a good introduction to a wider inquiry on deception. Becky Terhune, graphic designer, made some excellent choices in fonts, page layout, and color scheme.