Book Review: The Giant and How He Humbugged America

Book Review: The Giant and How He Humbugged AmericaThe Giant and How He Humbugged America by Jim Murphy
Published by Scholastic Press on October 1st 2012
Pages: 112

Two-time Newbery Honor Book author has written an amazing account of one of America's most famous hoaxes!

When a 10-foot tall purported "petrified man" is unearthed from a backyard in upstate New York in 1869, the discovery immediately turns into a spectacle of epic proportions. News of the giant spreads like wildfire, and well over a thousand people come to view him in the first five days alone!

Everyone has their own idea of his true origin: Is he an ancient member of the local Onandaga Indian tribe? Is he a biblical giant like Goliath? Soon the interests of world-renowned scientists and people from around the globe are piqued as arguments flare over who he is, where he came from, and if he is real--or just a hoax.

In a riveting account of how the Cardiff Giant mystery snowballed into one of America’s biggest money-making spectacles--and scams--Jim Murphy masterfully explores the power of 19th-century media and the unexpected ripple effect that a single corrupt mastermind can produce when given a stage.

A petrified giant was unearthed in upstate New York in the 19th century and created an uproar all over the world about whether it was real or not. The biggest humbug of that time period, this giant was displayed for people to see and many people profited off the scheme. Within the book, lots of information is provided as to how the scam was pulled off along with the reaction of America to such an event.

This book was well-written and with large enough text and pauses to let younger readers learn about this interesting event in our past history. The photographs throughout are fantastic and the end of the book tells more about how the author researched and wrote this book. An interesting nonfiction book like this will transport readers back to the period of time when this happened, while teaching them a little of what life really was like back then.

Final Verdict:

Murphy did a great job of building up the story before really mentioning how the actual scam was pulled off. I liked the human nature of some of the characters and how they were not outright villains that were doing this just for fun.


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