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The Hoax

3.51  ·  Rating Details  ·  237 Ratings  ·  43 Reviews
Soon to be a major motion picture -- a no-holds-barred account of the most notorious literary hoax of the twentieth century, written by the perpetrator himself

Before Oprah and had ever heard of James Frey, there was Clifford Irving. In 1971, he burst onto the literary scene, claiming to have been granted the right to pen the authorized biography of the f

Paperback, 400 pages
Published March 6th 2007 by Miramax (first published 1972)
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Community Reviews

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Mar 29, 2008 Matt rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 24, 2012 Hannah rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2012
Well I read it, more as a stubborn act of perseverance than enjoyment though. I found it highly weird to read a book about a book that isn’t really a book! A good 4/5 of the book goes into intricate details of the fake meetings with Hughes, this felt a bit weird considering you know from the outset it isn’t real. Basically it felt like a waste of time rather than an enjoyable journey into flight of fancy.

Really what I had expected to get out of this was why he did it, but there was no substantia
May 02, 2008 Grant rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3 stars = good read. What a crazy read. This is the true story of the the author Clifford Irving, who tricked most of the world into thinking he was meeting with Howard Hues and writing his autobiography. There are parts of the account where he agrees if "The Hoax" had been a novel that the things he got away with would be to unbelievable and people wouldn't like the book.
"The Hoax" is a longer book and can drag alittle at the beginning but once things get going you can't put it down, the unfo
Gary Taylor
Mar 10, 2009 Gary Taylor rated it it was amazing
Shelves: true-crime, memoir
Clifford Irving takes his skeleton out of the closet and rattles its bones. Irving employs self-deprecating humor to share the inside account of the most fascinating literary hoax of all time, his phony deal to write the authorized Howard Hughes autobiography. The event was so humiliating to the industry, it fought the publication of this book as long as it could, even though Irving had already served his time. And the author seemed to share a lot of potentially embarrassing information about hi ...more
Mar 28, 2011 Cathy rated it liked it

The Hoax actually turned out to be pretty interesting. The line between fiction and reality, what's real and unreal and what really happened becomes blurred. Irving and Susskind created a character purportedly meant to be H.R. Hughes but was really a well researched and well crafted figment of their imaginations. They became so immersed in Hughes that they planted causal incidents that led to Hughes latter eccentricities. An author has the power to create a life, to select and structure and form
Sep 28, 2014 Nate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, history
This book is hard to fit into a category. It's the story of a scheme to write a functional autobiography of Howard Hughes, without Howard's knowledge. The pure moxy of Clifford Irving and Dick Suskind is amazing. They did an astonishing amount of research in order to get a true sense of the Howard Hughes the man, and that is the only way to explain the number of people that they fooled into thinking that they were meeting with the real Howard Hughes. They mystery surrounding Hughes helped of cou ...more
Sep 28, 2014 Brandon rated it really liked it
Howard Hughes is one of the most intriguing personalities of the 20th century. Successful industrialist, moviemaker and aviation pioneer he was always going to garner attention but even when he became a hermit billionaire controlled by his phobias he was still featured on the cover of time magazine and one of the most talked about men on the planet. Enter Clifford Irving to add yet another strange chapter in the strange life of this iconic man. This book tells the story of how Clifford Irving sc ...more
Laura Lee
The drama of this tale makes it a page turner (or in the case of an audiobook a long-listener). Yet it is, at its center, somewhat unsatisfying because the author and main character seems blissfully unaware of how his behavior might affect others. As he flies around the world on his mad adventure, enjoying his extramarital affairs with seemingly little reflection as his wife is committing bank fraud for him at home, he lies to friends and business partners as if the whole matter were out of his ...more
Jolene Kendry
Jun 23, 2011 Jolene Kendry rated it it was ok
Clifford Irving is a competent writer and the book was engrossing. But make no mistake, Clifford Irving is a douchebag. He lies to his friends to play what he continuously refers to as a hoax, but it's just his way of covering up for himself, as he lies, cheats and steals from everyone he's ever known in order to further his career and rip off McGraw-Hill and Time Life for an enormous sum of money. His justifications throughout the book are sickening, and I only read through to the end to get to ...more
Erica Verrillo
Oct 20, 2012 Erica Verrillo rated it it was amazing
Clifford Irving certainly knows how to spin a yarn. Once you get into this book, it's hard to put it down, even if you know the outcome. In fact, it's even more difficult to stop reading when you know exactly what's going to happen. During the last few chapters, as Irving is plummeting to his doom, the tension is almost unbearable.

I originally picked up this book because after I had seen the movie I was left with a lingering question. What motivated Clifford Irving to pull the biggest literary h
Sep 03, 2012 Erin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, audio, memoir
Clifford Irving is full of two things: shit and himself. And if you believe he didn't truly understand the ramifications of what he was doing or that he's remorseful for what he did, you've fallen for the hoax within The Hoax. Another con, told by the master.

Irving set the bar for fakers like Stephen Glass, Jayson Blair, and James Frey. He convinced his publisher, McGraw-Hill, that the reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes authorized Irving to write Hughes' autobiography. And he used friends, fami
Meredith Uline
Aug 14, 2014 Meredith Uline rated it really liked it
I listened to this book on cd. I loved it!! I was so intrigued because it was all true! just when I thought Clifford & Dick were going to be caught, the book takes another turn and kept on going. It was amazing how long he kept the "hoax" alive without any actual investigations into his work. Clifford Irving is brilliant. He realized once his initial autobiography of Howard Hughes had failed, he could write a book about the book he wrote and still make money! The book was a little confusing ...more
Tom Schulte
Nov 16, 2012 Tom Schulte rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is really engrossing for the details of the hoax perpetrated and how Irving and Suskind became passengers on a runaway train of their own invention. Along the way, some amazing luck happened for them (I suppose, can I trust the admitted hoaxter?) but one amazing thing was the proof of the old adage about criminals that they often seem to have the drive and energy to be legitimately successful, if only the put their energies to legal ventures. In this case, the pair could have done a very go ...more
Bruce Collett
May 05, 2008 Bruce Collett rated it liked it
I remember the intrigue about Howard Hughes in the 70's. I was out of the country for a couple of years when Clifford Irving's "autobiography" of Howard Hughes hit the media and I only read about it as an historical event. But in 1974 I met a daughter of one of Howard Hughes's Mormon Mafia assistants. Her father treated his job like it was a top secret assignment for the government. That sparked my interest and for a while I paid attention to everything Howard Hughes.

The story by Clifford about
Ben Oliver
Jan 17, 2016 Ben Oliver rated it really liked it
A bizarre tale in which the author recounts his experiences writing a fake autobiography of famous recluse Howard Hughes. Irving fools the world to the point where McGraw Hill nearly publishes the book he’s written.

This is a great read looking into a fascinating chain of events. It’s also a cautionary tale about how quickly things can get out of hand, and the power of kidding yourself.

You can look into the details of the debacle and find out what happens, but the way Irving tells the story makes
Jun 08, 2010 Cynthia rated it really liked it
I substitute taught a yoga class in Zihautenejo, Mexico and this attractive older man came up to me afterwards to ask some questions about the poses. We talked for quite awhile, then my husband and I ended up having cocktails on their balcony at sunset. During the course of the evening we discovered that he had written several books, one about living in Ibiza, Spain and coming up with the idea to write an autobiography of Howard Hughes. Cliff Irving is a great storyteller and when I got home I f ...more
Jan 16, 2015 Gregory rated it really liked it
I remember when this happened...the story behind it is fascinating. Of course, we KNOW the author is an unreliable narrator. ;)
Frank Brennan
Feb 13, 2016 Frank Brennan rated it it was amazing
Amazing story about an amazing industry in the 1970s Incredible they got as far as they did.
May 22, 2009 Kristin rated it it was ok
I was listening to this on audiobook, but the book is so piss-poor that I am giving it up. And that's saying quite a lot as I spend close to 10 hours a day (my whole workday plus my workout time) listening to my ipod and I still couldn't find the time or energy to devote to this. While it's a fascinating concept, the writing is tediously descriptive and the author loves to include information about aspects of his personal life that must, for him, give the book an especially melodramatic flair an ...more
Shane Carnell
Oct 04, 2012 Shane Carnell rated it really liked it
This book is one that did entice me from beginning to end.
It is a fascinating tale of how Clifford Irving fooled Time magazine to fund his book, the autobiography of Howard Hughes.
The Hoax was written by Clifford Irving as an apology to the world, for committing the crime of conning money from Time magazine to write his book about a man he never did meet.
I do advise this book for anyone, who does like a good suspense story, as you would not believe how Clifford managed to find evidence that need
Ryan Chapman
Mar 05, 2007 Ryan Chapman rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: The Bored & Curious
Shelves: nonfiction, biography
I'm interested in the story behind the early 70s hoax by Clifford Irving, wherein he successfully peddled and very, very closely came to publishing an "authorized autobiography" on the reclusive Howard Hughes. Irving's a very self-satisfied writer, going so far over the deep end of pathos as to compare his guilt as the same punishment of a war prisoner.

Essentially a midrange beach read, I mostly tackled it as a primer for the upcoming film version. From what I can tell from the trailer, the Rich
Julie Elliott
Apr 24, 2010 Julie Elliott rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2007
The movie is good but the book is much, much better. The nerve of Irving is pretty awe-inspiring. Deserves a longer, better thought out review, which I'm sure someone else has posted on goodreads. Maybe I'll attempt one someday.

After reading this, I wanted to see excellent Altman version of The Long Goodbye again as the idea of watching Nina VanPallandt and Jim Bouton in the same movie had a new kind of weird 70s pop culture stunt casting appeal to it (although both are great in movie, as is St
Mar 24, 2013 Jeanne rated it really liked it
This is one of those 'stranger than fiction' stories. Irving and Suskind decide to write an autobiography of Howard Hughes knowing they would never have access to him. Assuming that no one else would have access to the reclusive millionaire, they could make serious money in writing Hughes' story. So they sell the story to a publisher, Irving's wife impersonates a "Hughes" to deposit Hughes' cash, he has an affair with an entertainer and Duchess, and is then surprised that there were problems wit ...more
A thrilling non-fiction book telling the fantastical story of Clifford Irving's hoax of writing the authorized biography of Howard Hughes. Most American publishing houses will not even touch this book which was originally published in the 70s. Irving's story is exciting and unbelievable, and his style of writing is so amusing, intimate, and cohesive. I would definitely recommend.
Jan 18, 2008 Lively rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Hughes enthusiasts
Irving's story was a fun, falling-into-fame sort of tale. His personality as narrator is companionable at best, and he sounds like he fancies himself a little cleverer than he actually is. I liked this book, but have no motivation to read anything else by Irving, especially fiction.
Wes F
Aug 10, 2013 Wes F rated it really liked it
Fascinating read of derring-do...well, the kind that ultimately can land you in jail for a few years. Very colorful characters and an engaging read. Hard to believe someone could get away with something like that--but, it was back in the '70s before internet/cell phones, etc.
Dec 05, 2012 Travis rated it really liked it
A really good book about the guys who faked the Howard Hughes autobiography. Written by the main guy who did it. A fascinating read , and it is unusual to have a criminal write about his own crime, and even more unusual when he is a professional writer.
C.R. Miller
Nov 23, 2010 C.R. Miller rated it it was ok
I could imagine a number of interesting ways to frame what might be a fascinating story. This isn't one of them. I was hoping for introspection or facts but found myself bogged down in a screenplay that needed editing.
A movie was made based on this book.

From IMDb:
In what would cause a fantastic media frenzy, Clifford Irving sells his bogus biography of Howard Hughes to a premiere publishing house in the early 1970s.
May 23, 2008 Anne rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The story was interesting but I found myself wishing that Irving would just get to the point so I could find out what happened when everyone realized the whole thing was a hoax. It dragged on too much for me.
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Clifford Irving is the author of 20 published books & just released 12 of his works as Kindle/Nook eBooks; he is currently writing a memoir called Around the World in 80 Years.
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