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April 26, 2011

A Treasury of Deception

Liars, Misleaders, Hoodwinkers etc.
Michael Farquhar

Any tract which leads by wholly discrediting Nostradamus has my attention; he was, after all, the "master of avoiding specifics," and a still quoted fraud who has endured for the ages. His end of the world predictions first went awry in the 1800s, but they're renewable thru 7000 A.D.

This volume is one of four such written by Farquhar on related things; all are absorbing. In it he exposes and explains varietal "humbugs" and their equally varietal chicanery, some serious and some just April Fool's jokes.

Operation Mincemeat, one of the greatest deceptions of WW II is reviewed, balanced by the lies and fraud of the Third Reich. On a lighter note there is a description of the housewife who gave birth to bunnies. (Well, of course, not really.)

Snake-oil salesmen in the age of medical quackery? Included. Medieval hucksters selling pieces of "the true cross"?, yep. So's the shroud of Turin. Of course the Piltdown man receives an honorable mention.

There is an excellent discussion of the witch craze in Europe in which he observes that over half of all executions took place in Germany alone. One village was left with only one woman; another eliminated an entire family; still another burned forty-one children. Perhaps this was a dress rehearsal for the Nazis?

Then there's the lie's of Lenin (not Lennon folks) and his distrust of Stalin. Shame old Vlad didn't have "Uncle Joe" shot before he became the chief. There are mentions of creative escapes from military prisons in the age of the Greeks, from the Tower of London, and from the Nazi fortress of Colditz. All if them intriguing.

He wraps it up with a series of 10s.
• 10 "tricksters" from scripture
• 10 deceptions from Greek mythology
• 10 liars in literature
and lastly:
• 10 egregious examples of modern American doublespeak; this without even mentioning Nixon's "I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."

Read it. It's a hoot. And informative, though more within the framework of Trivial Pursuit.

Posted by Curmudgeon at April 26, 2011 3:26 PM