The Museum of Hoaxes
Guilty confession time: I am a conspiracy junkie. Not a junkie in the sense of believing the many, many conspiracies out there (although I’m nearly convinced no one ever landed on the moon), more in the sense of enjoying the odd and amusing things people declare to be true beyond the shadow of a doubt. A good conspiracy combines the Knight’s Templar, government cover-ups, and a prediction by Nostradamus. A close relative of the conspiracy is the hoax. When I came across Alex Boese’s The Museum of Hoaxes I knew I needed to read it, if only to increase my non-fiction count for the year.*
The Museum of Hoaxes takes a stroll through history, highlighting interesting and elaborate hoaxes from every generation since the middle ages. A pregnant pope, the sale of the Eiffel Tower, various alien encounters, and cryptozoology are some of the stops featured along the way. If you’ve ever wanted to know about the origins of April Fool’s Day, this book is for you.
I really, really wanted to like this book. Wacky hoaxes, conspiracies, and general tomfoolery are fun to read about. Unfortunately, The Museum of Hoaxes missed the mark for me. I found that Mr. Boese gave too little information about the hoax, often revealing the twist or trick too soon and with an air of superiority toward anyone who had been duped. This is a good place to start a journey of hoaxes through the ages perhaps, but I found it hard to stay interested in and difficult to convince myself to keep reading once I started. I’m not going to say “Avoid this book like Dr. Gregor’s Cockroach Pills” but I’m also not going to say “This book is the best thing since the Piltdown Chicken.”
Cautions and Caveats: Some National Geographic type nudity. Also, the author shows a bias against Christianity and other religious beliefs.
*Current count for those keeping score: Non-fiction 6, Fiction 28.