In Fifty Scams and Hoaxes, Martin Fone, author of Fifty Clever Bastards, looks into scams and hoaxes from history, including fake medical fake medical treatments and weight loss products, financial scams and and bizarre hoaxes such as Mary Toft, an Englishwoman from the 1700s, who claimed to be able to produce rabbits from her vagina.
Some of the scams will make you feel sorry for the victims who were swindled out of their hard-earned cash, while in other cases, it's hard not to chuckle at the greed and stupidity that lead them to be fooled. As Fone himself says, "most scams rely on the interplay between three of the less desirable human traits: avarice, credulity and gullibility".
The section on medical hoaxes became a bit dull after a while since many of the fake medicines were so similar. I found the sections on financial scams and other hoaxes more entertaining since there is a bit more variety in the entries and some of them are very silly and strange. A sceptic who is really interested in this kind of thing might not find much in this book that is new to them, but it is convenient to have all these scams listed in one volume. Fifty Scams and Hoaxes is a fairly short book about human gullibility through the ages, presented in an easygoing, readable way. It's a fun, quirky read that might be nice to enjoy over the holidays.
Disclaimer: I was given a complimentary copy of this book by Troubadour Publishing Limited, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.