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The Museum of Hoaxes

3.44  ·  Rating Details  ·  214 Ratings  ·  35 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)
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(showing 1-30 of 427)
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May 16, 2015 Peggy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book up when looking for Loch Ness Monster books; I'm easily distracted. The book describes hoaxes from before 1700 to after 2000. It was full of short descriptions of all types of jokes, pranks and tricksters and was certainly a change of pace. Did you ever wonder how April Fools Day got its start? Boese explains that when France changed to the Gregorian calendar in 1582, people who kept celebrating the new year in April had jokes played on them. They were teased as being as fooli ...more
Feb 14, 2013 dejah_thoris rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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.
Jun 18, 2014 HeavyReader rated it it was ok
Shelves: history, nonfiction
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
Jan 11, 2012 Adil rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mike (the Paladin)
Apr 25, 2010 Mike (the Paladin) rated it really liked it
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
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
Jan 15, 2014 John Bruni rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Phil Wardlow
I would have liked the book more if it had been a more in-depth explanation of fewer hoaxes. As it is, the book was a bit more like reading newspaper headlines instead of the fuller article.
Jan 05, 2016 Robert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book is a bit dry for it's amusing subject matter. Worth reading (especially the end where the author discusses how to spot hoaxes) but could have been written in a more amusing way.
Jul 07, 2014 Jo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I registered a book at!
Feb 10, 2016 Alex rated it really liked it
Shelves: humor, non-fiction
A compendium of pranks and hoaxes throughout history. Some fascinating stories, well-presented here. A worthy adjunct to the web site of the same name.
BTW, the author's name is pronounced "BUR-za".
Icarus Waxwing
Jan 02, 2015 Icarus Waxwing rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really didn't mind it. A good light hearted read for someone like me. Nailed it on the train.
Jun 18, 2016 Sesana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, nonfiction
Pretty fun to read, but you're probably better off to just go to the original website.
Feb 22, 2014 Ilib4kids rated it liked it
Shelves: ave_adult_nf
001.95 BOE
Dec 01, 2015 Angie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Lots of great stories but written in such a limp and depth-less way.
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.
Jul 30, 2012 Bandit rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 06, 2013 Tim rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction, fiction
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.
Feb 27, 2010 Duane rated it liked it
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.
Dec 27, 2007 Jesselyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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.
Sep 06, 2007 Tracey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Clare Nina
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
Aug 29, 2012 Larry Cunningham rated it it was ok
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
Nov 23, 2009 Keith Davis rated it really liked it
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
Jun 28, 2010 Daniel DeLappe rated it really liked it
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.
Jul 23, 2012 Sabrina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Really great book about hoaxes in the world starting from before the 1700s up until now. Really enjoyed!
John Gentry
Jan 10, 2012 John Gentry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
interesting read if you like laughing at how stupid and gullible people used to be and still are.
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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.

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