PR for People Monthly MARCH 2017 - Page 34

Fake news has certainly been having a hey-day. From the White House to the Kremlin, disinformation, fear-mongering and smear campaigns have left news consumers reeling. For the nation’s new Commander-in-Tweet to call our foremost news organizations “fake media” is disingenuous – it’s further addled the electorate and stirred up chaos.

There’s a book coming out at the end of this year from Kevin Young, director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Titled “Bunk,” the book promises to examine the rise of “hoaxes, humbugs, plagiarists, phonies, post-facts and fake news.” It would have been the perfect book to review for this issue on scams, but it isn’t due out until November.

With the current onslaught of fake news, can we afford to wait that long? I fear not. Let me recommend an alternative for the meantime.

Independent, Maine-based publisher Tilbury House has conceived of a “History in 50” series that illuminates the past by compiling accounts of people and events who played a role in shaping history. Aimed at young adult readers, previous books in the series have explored “A History of Travel in 50 Vehicles,” “A History of Medicine in 50 Discoveries,” and so on.

The latest offering, “A History of Ambition in 50 Hoaxes,” couldn’t be more timely. The format of short, punchy stories is accessible and thought-provoking, and should appeal to readers high school aged and older.

The profiled hoaxes help us understand what people in the past believed in, and how their “truth” was tested.

“A History of Ambition in 50 Hoaxes” encourages skepticism, rather than cynicism. It urges readers not to take things at face value, but to evaluate perspectives when presented with any purported set of facts; to scrutinize the validity of competing claims, and to consider potential consequences, beneficiaries and victims.

In other words, to think things through. What a concept.

Barbara Lloyd McMichael is our ground reporter in South King County, Wash., and author of the syndicated book review column “The Bookmonger.” Her PR for People® Book Review is written exclusively for The Connector.

PR for People®

Book Review

by Barbara Lloyd McMichael

A History of Ambition in 50 Hoaxes – Gale Eaton

Tilbury House – 272 pp - $24.95