THE BOOK OF LIES by M. Hirsh Goldberg


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This light and lively gathering of old chestnuts--like Piltdown man and Mencken's bathtub fable--with some household hints, such as how to uncover a cheating spouse, is, to be honest, little more than an entertainment, sometimes witless and other times witty. Goldberg's (The Jewish Connection, 1976, etc.) new book is, perforce, nonfiction; and though it has a grand title, the text is somehow unsure of its mission. A potpourri of prevarication, it is, by turns, rightly indignant about the malevolent lies of the likes of Henry Ford and Adolf Hitler, then kiddingly tabloidish on how, for example, Danny Kaye, to avert rhinoplasty, settled for dyed hair. In truth, it's not a serious study of falsehood (for which see Sissela Bok's Lying, 1978, or, more recently, Thomas Mallon's Stolen Words, 1989, on authors' fakery). This is a sideshow presentation, featuring bits of political, military, business, theatrical, and historical deception, whether serious or silly, well known or well forgotten. Goldberg takes the name ""Harlem Globetrotters"" to be a lie because Abe Sapperstein started the team in Chicago and then didn't take it outside the country for two decades (its original gait isn't recorded). He thinks that Nixon endured ""the first impeachment of a president of the United States."" But his paste job is so guileless and good-natured that the flaws are easily passed over for the sake of the fun. An innocent pastiche of lies, great and small, for a few hours of honest debunkery.

Pub Date: April 30th, 1990
Publisher: Morrow