Bunk

Bunk

The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-facts, and Fake News

Book - 2017
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Longlisted for the National Book Award for Nonfiction

"There Kevin Young goes again, giving us books we greatly need, cleverly disguised as books we merely want. Unexpectedly essential."--Marlon James

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.

Publisher: Minneapolis, Minnesota : Graywolf Press, [2017]
ISBN: 9781555977917
Characteristics: 560 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm

Opinion

From Library Staff

Young takes a look at two centuries' worth of hoaxes and hucksters in American history from P.T. Barnum on, with later chapters on figures like James Frey and Rachel Dolezal. He boldly explores the way so many of these cases are rooted in racial fears and fantasies. Written in compulsively readab... Read More »

Chicago Public Library recommends this title as one of the best books published in 2017.


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johnulee
Jan 12, 2018

Good read, well researched. Should be companion piece to Noam Chomsky's ', Manufacturing Consent' to get a global understanding of the pr industry.

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