George Washington may never have told a lie, but he may be the only person—our history is littered with liars, deceivers, fraudsters, counterfeiters, and unfaithful lovers.
The Encyclopaedia of Liars and Deceivers gathers 150 of them, each entry telling the intriguing tale of the liar’s motives and the people who fell for the lies.
To collect these stories of deceit, Roelf Bolt travels from ancient times to the present day, documenting a huge assortment of legerdemain: infamous quacks, fraudulent scientists, crooks who committed “pseudocides” by faking their own deaths, and forgers of artworks, design objects, archaeological finds, and documents.
From false royal claims, fake dragon’s eggs, and bogus perpetual motion machines to rare books, mermaid skeletons, and Stradivari violins, Bolt reveals that almost everything has been forged or faked by someone at some point in history.
His short, accessible narratives in each entry offer biographies and general observations on specific categories of deceit, and Bolt captures an impressive number of famous figures—including Albert Einstein, Cicero, Ptolemy, Ernest Hemingway, François Mitterand, and Marco Polo—as well as people who would have remained anonymous had their duplicity not come to light.
Funny, shocking, and even awe-inspiring, the stories of deception in this catalog of shame make The Encyclopaedia of Liars and Deceivers the perfect gift for all those who enjoy a good tall tale—and those people who like to tell them.