Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Museum of Hoaxes” as Want to Read:
The Museum of Hoaxes
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

The Museum of Hoaxes

3.42 of 5 stars 3.42  ·  rating details  ·  172 ratings  ·  29 reviews
Based on the author's popular website, Alex Boese's The Museum of Hoaxes takes readers on a tour of hundreds of documented hoaxes, many published here for the first time. You'll read about the curiosities and cons of the most notorious hornswogglers and flimflam men of the nineteenth century; you'll be astounded at the impostors, pretenders, carnies, and tricksters of the...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published November 11th 2002 by Dutton Adult (first published 2002)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Museum of Hoaxes, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Museum of Hoaxes

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 341)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
A cute little book full of hoaxes sorted by date. Lots of references to their website for further details but not a lot of depth on any of the subjects. Also a little maddening to have the book open with a "Gullibility Test" that doesn't tell you the answers are at the end of the book. (Okay, maybe I should've noticed the title has "(Questions)" next to it.) Not a bad read for a quick laugh or some light entertainment (the spaghetti trees were my favorite) but don't expect anything in-depth.
I picked up this book on a whim at thrift store. I actually paid $2 for it. It was more of a 50 cent book. It was ok, fairly interesting, but not really all that exciting.

This book details the history of hoaxes, from the Middle Ages to 2002. Each hoax gets, at the most, a few paragraphs, just enough information to leave the reader (or at least this reader) wanting more. Some of the entries do include web addresses where one can go to learn more. (This is the first book I’ve ever seen including...more
Step right up and enter The Museum of Hoaxes. This book is a collection of some of the exhibits on

Like any good museum, the book has a logical arrangement for its articles, splitting them up chronologically into eras. Each section gives summaries of the popular hoaxes of that time period. A noticeable trend emerges in these hoaxes. In the earlier sections (the 1700s), we see many religious and mythical hoaxes including animals made of vegetables and records of fa...more
Mike (the Paladin)
I've had this on my shelves for some time...and there are a lot of books ahead of it on my "to read" list. but I picked it up and started reading in it and just continued. It's not a long read and is fairly "diverting" (yes I know...I sound like an old British movie, possibly Edwardian).

The book goes into Hoaxes, why "we" fall for them, how they've changed over the years and "of course" gives many well know and semi-well known hoaxes. I found some I wasn't aware were hoaxes. As an example, lemm...more
Based on the author's website of the same name, Alex Boese puts together a collection of popular hoaxes and deceptions against society from the Middle Ages to today. Many are familiar (Swiss Spaghetti trees, Y2K, Milli Vanilli), but some, particularly the older pranks, are new to me. For someone as fascinated with popular culture as I am, this was a decent read, discussing the rise in popularity of postcards at the turn of the century - you know, the ones with old farmers standing in yards with...more
John Bruni
This is a great, fun read. I've always been fascinated with the cons and pranks people have committed over the years. I was most surprised to find out about how hoaxing can be used for the betterment of society, like when Ben Franklin played a few tricks to get people to pay attention to certain social issues. I really enjoyed hearing about the hoaxes of Jonathan Swift, Mark Twain and Edgar Allan Poe. The thing that surprised me is how some hoaxers had the best of intentions, but people wouldn't...more
David Ward
Museum of Hoaxes: a Collection of Pranks, Stunts, Deceptions, and Other Wonderful Stories Contrived For the Public From the Middle Ages to the New Millenium by Alex Boese (Dutton 2002)(001.95). This book is taken from the author's website, and it gathers and presents information about a historical collection of documented hoaxes. Hoaxes have surprised and taken in the celebrated, the famous, and the infamous. This book is pleasant reading. My rating: 7/10, finished 2004.
Should anyone ever question the genral gullibility of the masses, read this book. Here in a very matter of act fashion the author presents a great selection of a variety of hoaxes perpetuated upon an unsuspecting public throughout the history. Additionally, every chapter is presented with a sociopolitical intoduction explaining why the particular hoaxes worked as well as they did at the time. Great read, very entertaining. Recommended.
This is a non-fiction book about hoaxes, which are clearly fiction. So I filed it on both my fiction and non-fiction shelves.

Aside from that strange little paradox, it was not as entertaining as I would have liked. Not that it was bad, or not worth reading -- there are some very interesting hoaxes described. It just happened to be more hit and miss than I expected. Perhaps the web site is better.

Sarah Souther
The "museum" chronicles hoaxes from the travels of Prester John to the oft-e-mailed photo of Snowball the giant cat. Trivia lovers, casual history fans, and perhaps conspiracy theorists will enjoy these anecdotes. The chapters follow a chronological order, so readers can fit later pranks and deceptions into historical context. This is a fun read for adults and teens.
For just casual reading, this book is a good candidate, but if you want the intricate details of how the hoaxes were carried out, there are better ones out there. Having said that, this book does give you just enough information to enjoy reading about various hoaxes carried out through history. A nice bathroom reader style book.
Jennifer Wardrip
This is a fun (and funny!) look through history. From the 1700s to present day, people have gotten a kick out of "pulling one over" on others -- and most of us have gotten just as many laughs over being on the receiving end.

This is a great read for some light, crazy entertainment.
I believe I picked this up for the annual summer cartrip to Oklahoma one year, and quite enjoyed it. A fun look at hoaxes like the jackalope (featured on the cover), crop circles, and a town other than Kittyhawke that is determined to claim itself the birthplace of aviation.
Originally (and still) a website, Boese has collected examples of hoaxes through the ages and placed them in their historical & sociological context. He includes a "Further Reading" bibliography and both a subject and alphabetical index. A good addition to a skeptic's library.
While this book is amusing and is excellent for bathroom reading or for reading quick bits during a commute, it's a little light on analysis and explanation for my tastes. Still, lots of fun, and a great companion to Boese's "Museum of Hoaxes" website.
A very entertaining and informative tour through history's great hoaxes and hoaxers. Written in a very light, humorous style Boese's, "The Museum of Hoaxes" is the perfect book to read when you want something a little kookier before bedtime.
Larry Cunningham
A mixture of stories about hoaxes and scams and other deceptions. Some of the entries were highly entertaining, others not quite so much. Still a good book for grab-and-read moments.
Keith Davis
I always enjoy a book about hoaxes and scams. Much of this material is familiar, but it is still entertaining. I also recommend The Big Book of Hoaxes by Carl Sifakis.
Daniel DeLappe
This is a fun read. It is amazing the amount of BS in the world and how many people believe the BS. Check his website. It is updated and fun to explore.
Really great book about hoaxes in the world starting from before the 1700s up until now. Really enjoyed!
Fascinating, educational - a little less humorous than I expected, which in my opinion is a good thing.
John Gentry
interesting read if you like laughing at how stupid and gullible people used to be and still are.

Just finished it. It was good for the first 100 pgs or so, then it was just alright.
Shana Dennis
It was okay, I mostly flipped though it to read the entries that interested me.
I don't remember finishing this but I must have
A fascinating parade of cultural oddities.
Tony Torres
got bored fast. skimmed it.
Conal Cochran
Conal Cochran marked it as to-read
Oct 07, 2014
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Book of the bizarre
  • Unbelievable: Investigations into Ghosts, Poltergeists, Telepathy, and Other Unseen Phenomena from the Duke Parapsychology Laboratory
  • Mail-Order Mysteries: Real Stuff from Old Comic Book Ads!
  • Fingerprints of God: The Search for the Science of Spirituality
  • The Turk: The Life and Times of the Famous Eighteenth-Century Chess-Playing Machine
  • The Sun and the Moon: The Remarkable True Account of Hoaxers, Showmen, Dueling Journalists, and Lunar Man-Bats in Nineteenth-Century New York
  • Mad Kings & Queens
  • What Would MacGyver Do?: True Stories of Improvised Genius in Everyday Life
  • Too Good to Be True: The Colossal Book of Urban Legends
  • Secret Lives of Great Authors: What Your Teachers Never Told You about Famous Novelists, Poets, and Playwrights
  • Real Ghosts, Restless Spirits, and Haunted Places
  • Do Not Open
  • A Short History of Rudeness: Manners, Morals, and Misbehavior in Modern America
  • The Haunting of America: From the Salem Witch Trials to Harry Houdini
  • Ancient Mysteries
  • If Ignorance Is Bliss, Why Aren't There More Happy People?: Smart Quotes for Dumb Times
  • Napoleon's Privates: 2,500 Years of History Unzipped
  • Cranioklepty: Grave Robbing and the Search for Genius
Alex Boese holds a master's degree in the history of science from UC San Diego. He is the creator of He lives near San Diego.

More about Alex Boese...
Elephants on Acid: And Other Bizarre Experiments Hippo Eats Dwarf: A Field Guide to Hoaxes and Other B.S. Electrified Sheep

Share This Book