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Kevin Young
# UP5052 Hardcover, 560 pages; 2017
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The "humbug," arguably made most popular by showman P. T. Barnum's sideshows, was an act of fooling an audience, but in such a way that the audience itself was involved in the hoodwinking and took pleasure from being tricked. On the contrary, whereas Barnum and his oddities meant to bestow wonder, contemporary hoaxes only seek to sow suspicion and cynicism. But in all cases, the success of a hoax relies paradoxically on truth—just enough fact beneath the falsehood to lend it credibility, and a reliance on society's prejudices and misconceptions to keep the audience from looking too closely. Follow author Kevin Young as he traces the history of half-truths and wild claims, from Barnum's "Age of Imposture" to our current "Age of Euphemism," in a fascinating look at "the rise of hoaxes, humbug, plagiarists, phonies, post-facts, and fake news"—and the people that allow themselves to be tricked. (SM)
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