What do the Trojan Horse, Piltdown Man, Keely Motor Company, and Ponzi Scheme have in common? They were all famous hoaxes, carefully designed and bolstered with false evidence.
The con artists in this book pursued a variety of ambitions—making money, winning wars, mocking authority, finding fame, trading an ordinary life for a glamorous one—but they all chose the lowest, fastest road to get there. Every hoax is a curtain, and behind it is a deceiver operating levers and smoke machines to make us see what is not there and miss what is. As P.T. Barnum knew, you can short-circuit critical thinking in any century by telling people what they want to hear. Most scams operate on a personal scale, but some have shaped the balance of world power, inspired explorers to sail uncharted seas, derailed scientific progress, or caused terrible massacres. A HISTORY OF AMBITION IN 50 HOAXES guides us through a rogue’s gallery of hustlers, liars, swindlers, imposters, scammers, pretenders, and cheats. In Gale Eaton’s wide-ranging synthesis, the history of deception is a colorful tour, with surprising insights behind every curtain.
Fountas & Pinnell Level Z+
About the Author
Phillip Hoose is the widely acclaimed author of books, essays, stories, songs, and articles including the National Book Award - and Newbery Honor - winning book Claudette Colvin: Twice toward Justice and the Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor winner The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club. A graduate of Indiana University and the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Sciences, Hoose was for 37 years a staff member of The Nature Conservancy, dedicated to preserving the plants, animals, and natural communities of the Earth.