Review: FAKERS, An Insider’s Guide to Cons, Hoaxes, and Scams

FAKERS H.P. Wood David ClarkWhether the young people in your life believe every tall tale or have already developed their cynicism into an art, FAKERS is sure to entertain and educate them about both the history and the current state of cons, hoaxes, and scams. H.P. Wood has collected a huge selection of the most familiar tricks and cons and added in plenty of surprises and new-fangled scams for good measure. The fanciful illustrations by David Clark ensure that readers don’t take the tellers of fake tales too seriously, which contrasts with the photographs and archival material from some of the more successful scams.

Fakers takes us from well-known short cons involving cards, dice, and shells to sales scams that have lasted eons. Ever wondered where “Pig in a Poke” came from? It’s in there! Fakers also keeps things modern by running through the history of the “friend in distress” scam which has gone from scrolls to letters to emails. It continues with descriptions of scams involving pets, lottery winnings, and investments. Readers will get the real deal about Ponzi, pyramid, and Madoff as well as construction scams. Each has origins from generations ago. What is especially impressive is that H. P. Wood goes into the psychology and humanity that allows the scams to work over and over again — even on you!

Whether your interest is in mind-bending spoons, carnival games, science, medicine or war, Fakers makes sure to touch on it all. Additionally, it does so with a modern sensibility. For example, P. T. Barnum is called out for using an enslaved woman as a side-show and pocketing money meant to help free her grandchildren. And “fake news” is pointed out as a convenient phrase when news is less than flattering. The trends on social media and bots are also connected to the idea of decrying “fake news.”

With an extensive glossary, suggestions for further reading, and even a list of quotation sources, FAKERS backs up its claims and establishes itself as a true resource for the history of cons, hoaxes, and scams. Highly recommended for ages 10 and up.


About That Unique* Weblog

Adjusting to car culture, dealing with leaving a career I loved, and spouting off along the way. Do The Most Good.
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3 Responses to Review: FAKERS, An Insider’s Guide to Cons, Hoaxes, and Scams

  1. Anna says:

    What a cool topic for a book! Definitely will read with my kids!

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