Jul 13, 2017 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on ‘A Sucker Born Every Minute’

‘A Sucker Born Every Minute’

I started The Giant and How He Humbugged America quite a while ago but set it aside to read some other things; I finally finished it last night, and I’m still basking in the glow of bringing a long project to completion!  (Which is silly, really–it’s got less than a hundred pages.  But still.)

I’ve read at least five other Jim Murphy books, including two Newberys.  I’m in a stage of life where adult nonfiction requires more time and focus than I’ve got, and so intermediate nonfiction affords me the opportunity to indulge my passion for history in a way that seems, you know, possible.  When I grabbed this one from the library I knew very little about the topic, other than that the Cardiff Giant was a thing–and a hoax of a thing.  Interestingly, I think I enjoyed this somewhat less than Murphy’s others (at least the ones I’ve read) for precisely that reason.  In general, I like reading about people, and the Cardiff Giant being a ‘thing’ meant fewer details about people (not to mention that what details there were to be had are close to 150 years old!).  It’s still a fascinating story, however, and a bit mind blowing as well.  What kind of person puts that kind of time, money, and planning into such a hoax?

One of the best features of Murphy’s book is how he ends it, in my opinion; instead of leaving the Giant to be an isolated incident in his readers’ minds, he takes us through a history of hoaxes and frauds that continues into the 21st century.  Historical context and relevancy are invaluable in a good piece of nonfiction, and Jim Murphy does a fine job of both.  If the idea of an elaborately planned 19th century hoax interests you, try this one; if not, check out his other titles.  You’re bound to find a few that grab your attention.

The Giant and How He Humbugged America


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