Did a collector with a knack for making sensational discoveries really find the first document ever printed in America? Did Adolf Hitler actually pen a revealing multivolume set of diaries? Has Jesus of Nazareth's burial cloth survived the ages? Can the shocking true account of Abraham Lincoln's assassination be found in lost pages from his murderer's diary?
Napoleon famously observed that "history is a set of lies agreed upon," and Edward Steers Jr. investigates six of the most amazing frauds ever to gain wide acceptance in this engrossing book. Hoax examines the legitimacy of the Shroud of Turin, perhaps the most hotly debated relic in all of Christianity, and the discovery of fossils confirming humanity's "missing link," the Piltdown Man. Steers also discusses two remarkable forgeries, the Hitler diaries and the "Oath of a Freeman," and famous conspiracy theories alleging that Franklin D. Roosevelt had prior knowledge of the attack on Pearl Harbor and that the details of Lincoln's assassination are recorded in missing pages from John Wilkes Booth's journal.
The controversies that Steers presents show that there are two major factors involved in the success of a hoax or forgery -- greed and the desire to believe. Though all of the counterfeits and conspiracies featured in Hoax have been scientifically debunked, some remain fixed in many people's minds as truth. As Steers points out, the success of these frauds highlights a disturbing fact: If true history fails to entertain the public, it is more likely to be ignored or forgotten.
ForewordIntroduction: "Snap, Crackle, and Pop"Oath of a Freeman: The King of ForgersPearl Harbor: Treachery in the Oval Office?Hah Hitler! The Hitler DiariesThe Shroud of Turin: Tell Me What You Want to Believe and I Will Tell What You Will BelieveSkullduggery: The Man Who Never WasThe Missing Pages from John Wilkes Booth's DiaryAcknowledgmentsNotesIndex
"By demonstrating the wide variety of historical hoaxes, from forgeries of documents to prehistoric remains, Hoax reinforces that they are a widespread problem for historians as they attempt to separate fact from fiction." -- Thomas Turner, editor of the Lincoln Herald
"With his penetrating research skills, Dr. Edward Steers Jr., a seeker of truth, demolishes the most well-known hoaxes, illuminating their complex yet simple nature. A remarkable achievement, this book brings clarity to our world of misinformation that animates American culture. More than a reference, this work serves as a guide, a warning of sorts, revealing how simple it can be to fool the world." -- Joseph Garerra, Executive Director, Lehigh Valley Heritage Museum
"The study of archaeological hoaxes and historical frauds is a long and intriguing one, with many books, articles and academic papers having been written over the years, but Edward Steers Jr.'s masterful study of six of the best (and most famous) covers new ground in its breadth and scope. Steers takes the reader on a fascinating journey through the mind and modus operandi of the forger, detailing the many twists and turns of each fabrication, considering why they were considered necessary and what each was attempting to achieve. It is an enthralling exploration of the darker side of academic life and of the psychology of the forger. Truth is indeed stranger than fiction." -- Miles Russell
"Steers uses his knowledge of both history and science to explore such topics as whether President Franklin Roosevelt knew the Pearl Harbor attack was coming and the background of the fraudulent Hitler diaries of 30 years ago." -- West Virginia Messenger
"Steers previously wrote the entertaining and enlightening ' Blood on the Moon, and he brings the same lively yet thoroughly researched syle to this winning volume." -- Courier-Journal
"A valuable read for anyone dealing with the problem of fabricated evidence." -- New York Military Affairs Symposium Review