Happy April Fools’ Day! Here is a list of a dozen books to celebrate the day – everything you want to know about hoaxes, scams, pranks, imposters, forgeries and Sasquatch too. Enjoy!
Nightwork: A History of Hacks and Pranks at MIT (2011) by T. F. Peterson. A lively introduction to MIT hacks from the police car on the Great Dome to the abduction of the Caltech cannon.
The Piltdown Forgery (2004) by J. S. Weiner. Originally published in 1955, Weiner and his colleagues revealed the scam of the Piltdown Man, a purported missing link humanoid.
The War of the Worlds (1889) by H. G. Wells. While not intended as a hoax, the 1938 radio production of Wells’ novel convinced many listeners that aliens had landed on earth.
A Colossal Hoax: The Giant from Cardiff that Fooled America (2010) by Scott Tribble. The story of one of the most famous hoaxes in US history – a 10 foot tall petrified man that was “unearthed” in 1869.
The Museum of Hoaxes: A Collection of Pranks, Stunts, Deceptions and Other Wonderful Stories contrived for the Public from the Middle Ages to the New Millennium (2002) by Alex Boese. A comprehensive collection of documented hoaxes.
Tales of the Cryptids: Mysterious Creatures that May or May not Exist (2006) by Kelly Milner Halls, Rick Spears and Roxyanne Young. An introduction to cryptozoology.
Cryptozoology A to Z: The Encyclopedia of Loch Monsters, Sasquatch, Chupacabras, and other Authentic Mysteries of Nature (1999) by Loren Coleman and Jerome Clark. Contains nearly 200 entries, including cryptids, new animals, and the explorers who search for them.
Provenance: How a Con Man and Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art (2009) by Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo. Recounts the activities of John Drewe, who manipulated struggling artists to become art forgers, whose works Drewe passed off as legitimate pieces.
Hoaxes and Scams: A Compendium of Deceptions, Ruses and Swindles (1993) by Carl Sifakis. An exhaustive collection of the world’s most devilish money-making schemes and elaborate practical jokes.
The Fabulous Frauds: Fascinating Tales of Great Art Forgeries (1970) by Lawrence Jeppson. A history of the underworld of great counterfeit art that has long existed side by side with the legitimate and authentic.
The Ultimate Book of Imposters: Over 100 True Stories of the Greatest Phonies and Frauds (2013) by Ian Graham. Uncovers the boldest and most notorious frauds in history.
Forged: Why Fakes are the Great Art of our Age (2013) by Jonathon Keats. Considers forgeries as high art and offers an entertaining look at forgers from antiquity to the present.