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The Giant and How He Humbugged Americaby Jim Murphy
Synopses & Reviews
Two-time Newbery Honor Book author has written an amazing account of one of America's most famous hoaxes!
When a 10-foot tall purported "petrified man" is unearthed from a backyard in upstate New York in 1869, the discovery immediately turns into a spectacle of epic proportions. News of the giant spreads like wildfire, and well over a thousand people come to view him in the first five days alone!
Everyone has their own idea of his true origin: Is he an ancient member of the local Onandaga Indian tribe? Is he a biblical giant like Goliath? Soon the interests of world-renowned scientists and people from around the globe are piqued as arguments flare over who he is, where he came from, and if he is real--or just a hoax.
In a riveting account of how the Cardiff Giant mystery snowballed into one of Americas biggest money-making spectacles--and scams--Jim Murphy masterfully explores the power of 19th-century media and the unexpected ripple effect that a single corrupt mastermind can produce when given a stage.
"Americans eager for diversions in the post — Civil War era were easily taken in by showmen such as P.T. Barnum. In this book, Murphy (The Crossing: How George Washington Saved the American Revolution) explains how another hoodwinker, George Hull, masterminded the creation and 'discovery' of a giant gypsum statue of a man that had people guessing at its origins — and paying handsomely to see it. The Cardiff Giant, named for the New York town where it was unearthed in 1869, drew thousands of spectators, who believed it to be a petrified man. It even caught the attention of Barnum, who built and made money off a replica. Although a significant number of players are involved, the narrative's 12 chapters move swiftly, with period photos helping to break up the text-heavy pages (printed in brown ink). Contextualizing this scam against the wider backdrop of the Gilded Age, Murphy adeptly explains how hoaxes like the Cardiff Giant helped accelerate reforms, such as the establishment of professional scientific organizations and journals. Ages 10 — 14." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Jim Murphy is the celebrated author of more than thirty-five books for young readers, most notably TRUCE: THE DAY THE SOLDIERS STOPPED FIGHTING and THE GREAT FIRE, a Newbery Honor Winner. His carefully researched, engaging, and elegantly written nonfiction has garnered the most prestigious awards in the field. He lives in Maplewood, New Jersey, with his wife and their two sons.
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Children's » History » United States » General