The Sun and the Moon: The Remarkable True Account of Hoaxers, Showmen, Dueling Journalists, and Lunar Man-Bats in Nineteen

The Sun and the Moon: The Remarkable True Account of Hoaxers, Showmen, Dueling Journalists, and Lunar Man-Bats in Nineteen

by Matthew Goodman

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The Sun and the Moon tells the delightful, entertaining, and surprisingly true story of how in the summer of 1835 a series of articles in the Sun, the first of the city's "penny papers," convinced the citizens of New York that the moon was inhabited. Six articles, purporting to reveal the lunar discoveries made by a world-famous British astronomer, described the life found on the moon-including unicorns, beavers that walked upright, and, strangest of all, four-foot-tall flying man-bats. The series quickly became the most widely circulated newspaper story of the era. And the Sun, a brash working-class upstart less than two years old, had become the most widely read newspaper in the world. Told in richly novelistic detail, The Sun and the Moon brings the raucous world of 1830s New York City vividly to life-the noise, the excitement, the sense that almost anything was possible. The book overflows with larger-than-life characters, including Richard Adams Locke, author of the moon series (who never intended it to be a hoax at all); a fledgling showman named P.T. Barnum, who had just brought his own hoax to New York; and the young writer Edgar Allan Poe, who was convinced that the moon series was a plagiarism of his own work. An exhilarating narrative history of a city on the cusp of greatness and a nation newly united by affordable newspapers, The Sun and the Moon may just be the strangest true story you've ever read.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780786726967
Publisher: Basic Books
Publication date: 10/14/2008
Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 360
Sales rank: 502,807
File size: 1 MB
Age Range: 13 - 18 Years

About the Author

Matthew Goodman‘s nonfiction writing has appeared in The Forward, The American Scholar, Harvard Review, Brill's Content, and The Utne Reader. He is the author of Jewish Food: The World at Table. He lives in New York City with his wife and children.

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The Sun and the Moon: The Remarkable True Account of Hoaxers, Showmen, Dueling Journalists, and Lunar Man-Bats in Nineteenth-Century New York 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
bragan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The subject of this book is a fake newspaper story published in New York City in the 1830s, in which it was claimed that a famous astronomer had discovered life on the moon, including such improbable creatures as bipedal beavers and humanoid bats. Not unreasonably, I went into it expecting an amusing story about bizarre science fictional imaginings and public gullibility. What I got, though, was something much more than that. Goodman doesn't just tell the story of the newspaper hoax; he delves deeply into everything in the world of 1830s New York that remotely touches on it. The result is a rambling account of the history of journalism, the politics and social concerns of pre-Civil War New York, the lives of various prominent and colorful men (including familiar names like P.T. Barnum and Edgar Allan Poe), the religious and scientific attitudes of the time, and much more. It actually takes the author 130 pages to do more than mention the hoax story in passing, but I didn't mind at all, because everything he was talking about was fascinating. I came away from the book feeling a bit like I'd just taken a trip in a time machine to walk the streets of the city myself.
drneutron on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In 1834, a penny paper called the Sun managed to eke out a new model for news that appealed to the working man (and, based on advertising, women) by providing news of interest to a wide range of people at a reasonable price. Prior to this, newspapers mainly catered to merchants and business, and often included shipping manifests and sailing schedules, news of prices and markets abroad, etc. The Sun, though, included a more "blue collar" style - police and court reporting was more lurid than shipping, for instance - and was able to draw a new segment of the population to build a circulation of around 2500 papers per day, competitive with other, more expensive sheets.Now, the newspaper business at the time was pretty cutthroat. Editors didn't mind broadly copying from competitors and other magazines and journals, libel was pretty commonplace, basically anything goes to sell papers. And in 1835, the Sun published a series of stories from an Edinborough astronomy journal summarizing new discoveries of life on the Moon by one of the leading astronomers of the day. These were some pretty amazing discoveries, to include a civilization of intelligent man-bats and an entire ecosystem of animals and plants.Needless to say, circulation went through the roof, and the Sun almost overnight became the most widely read paper in the world, dwarfing circulation at competing papers by a factor of ten or more.Trouble is, the story was completely made up. Although the publisher and editor didn't admit the fraud until decades later (and in very oblique fashion), the story was debunked in the ensuing months. Funny thing though, circulation didn't drop. The Sun continued to be one of the most widely read papers, influencing journalistic style and the newspaper business model in most American cities for decades to come.Matthew Goodman's The Sun and The Moon tells the story of the Sun's hoax, its aftermath, and connection to some pretty well known names like P. T. Barnum and Edgar A. Poe. It's a pretty good look into the newspaper wars in mid-19th century New York, a subject I clearly need to return to. My one criticism - the reading the text sometimes felt like taking a dog for a walk in a park. At a moment's notice, Goodman takes us off down a rabbit trail that eventually connects back up with main story. It was a bit distracting at times and occasionally jarring. Generally, this was a good book, though!
figre on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
There is much to like about this book. Unfortunately, that cannot make up for its fundamental flaw ¿ the book cannot really decide what it wants to be. Well researched, well told, but well shy of a focus.Goodman often paints a good picture. In particular, the book¿s opening descriptions of New York do an excellent job of letting the reader know how it felt to be a part of that city. And other descriptions in the book are similarly skilled.However, one minute the book is a description of the newspaper business, the next it is a description of hoaxes and their role in 19th Century New York, the next it is a biography (of a number of people ¿ even the biographies jump all over with in-depth backgrounds of newspaperman Richard Adams Locke [author of the moon hoax], P.T. Barnum, and Edgar Allan Poe), the next it is discussion of slavery, the next is¿well, I lost count of the many ways this book strayed from it¿s many points. As one huge example of the wormholes it often dived into ¿ an entire chapter is devoted to details of Poe (including sections quoting his writing) that do not seem relevant to the entire narrative.Maybe there is an overriding theme here. Maybe the author would contend he is trying to meld the zeitgeist with the people who made it what it was. Maybe he is trying to show how hoaxing, the growth of newspapers, and the seminally influential men of the time work together. Maybe I¿m just grasping at straws to explain why this book contains all it does.There are parts of this book well worth reading. Much about the moon hoax itself is good, the history of the development of the penny papers is good, and, as I¿ve already indicated, the pictures painted by the author¿s words are often excellent. Are these bits of gold worth the wanderings the reader is put through to get to any of these jewels? I¿m not convinced it is.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sorry I wasn't on last night. No power. And not gonna be on tonight either. (1) It's half hour till midnight. (2) I'm pissed off. Bbt maybe. If my stepmom doesn't explode something since it's her bday. Grr...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She sat quietly
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Always here.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read Lightbreeze's post in result 2m then Sunstar's in result 1!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ctothep More than 1 year ago
Wonderful. Awesome. Engaging.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago