The Sun and the Moon: The Remarkable True Account of Hoaxers, Showmen, Dueling Journalists, and Lunar Man-Bats in Nineteenth-Century New York

By Matthew Goodman
Read by Malcolm Hillgartner

12.37 Hours 12/01/2008 unabridged
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The Sun and the Moon tells the delightful and surprisingly true story of how a series of articles in the Sun newspaper in 1835 convinced the citizens of New York that the moon was inhabited. Purporting to reveal discoveries of a famous British astronomer, the series described such moon life as unicorns, beavers that walked upright, and four-foot-tall flying man-bats. It quickly became the most widely circulated newspaper story of the era. Told in richly novelistic detail, The Sun and the Moon brings the raucous world of 1830s New York City vividly to life, including such larger-than-life personages as Richard Adams Locke, who authored the moon series but who never intended it to be a hoax; fledgling showman P. T. Barnum, who had just brought his own hoax to town; and a young Edgar Allan Poe, convinced that the series was a plagiarism of his own work.

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Summary

Summary

The Sun and the Moon tells the delightful and surprisingly true story of how a series of articles in the Sun newspaper in 1835 convinced the citizens of New York that the moon was inhabited. Purporting to reveal discoveries of a famous British astronomer, the series described such moon life as unicorns, beavers that walked upright, and four-foot-tall flying man-bats. It quickly became the most widely circulated newspaper story of the era.

Told in richly novelistic detail, The Sun and the Moon brings the raucous world of 1830s New York City vividly to life, including such larger-than-life personages as Richard Adams Locke, who authored the moon series but who never intended it to be a hoax; fledgling showman P. T. Barnum, who had just brought his own hoax to town; and a young Edgar Allan Poe, convinced that the series was a plagiarism of his own work.

Editorial Reviews

Editorial Reviews

“Mr. Goodman has managed not only to give us a ripping good newspaper yarn but also to illuminate life in the nation’s largest city in the early part of the nineteenth century. He also provides something of a treatise on the birth of modern mass-market newspapering.” Wall Street Journal
“[A] delightful history…The genius of The Sun and the Moon is that it endeavors to explore, through the lens of nineteenth-century New York and the prism of the press, why we believe what we believe, particularly when those beliefs go beyond the pale of plausibility.” Los Angeles Times
“The artistry of the great moon hoax can only be appreciated in its entirety and in its original setting with all the clatter, color and odor of the Bowery, as presented by Goodman.” Buffalo News
“Goodman presents a fascinating story about life in nineteenth-century New York, the savagely competitive newspaper business, and public entrancement with new sciences.” Sky & Telescope
“The Sun and the Moon is a wonderful cautionary tale, especially in an era like our own.” Nature
“Goodman strips away layers of deception by journalist Richard Adams Locke to fully reveal what was hailed as the era’s ‘most stupendous scientific imposition upon the public.’ Theological debates over extraterrestrial life, sensationalism and new technology, he says, met within a writer so pioneering in his science fiction that even Edgar Allan Poe declared him a genius.” New Scientist
“Highly atmospheric…[A] richly detailed and engrossing glimpse of the birth of tabloid journalism in an antebellum New York divided by class, ethnicity and such polarizing issues as slavery, religion and intellectual freedom.” Publishers Weekly
“Narrator Malcolm Hillgartner’s rich baritone works well with a story that could almost be fiction but isn’t. His slightly melodramatic reading lends a certain tone of irony to the book, keeping the listener aware that while this is factual history, it’s based on a big joke. This entertaining book gives an interesting glimpse of the early days of newspapers in New York City and how trusting and gullible readers were, once upon a time.” AudioFile
“This is a rollicking read.” Library Journal
“Malcolm Hillgartner reads with great energy and enthusiasm. Public libraries may wish to consider this one.” Library Journal
“[The Sun and the Moon] tells an intriguing story and reveals some fascinating facts about nineteenth-century New York.” Booklist
“A delightful recounting of ‘the most successful hoax in the history of American journalism’…Goodman consistently entertains with his tale of press manipulation, hucksterism and the seemingly bottomless capacity for people to believe the most outrageous things. Absolutely charming.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Reviews

Reviews

Author

Author Bio: Matthew Goodman

Matthew Goodman received an MFA from Vermont College. His nonfiction writing has appeared in The Forward, American Scholar, Harvard Review, Brill’s Content, and Utne Reader. His short stories have appeared in such literary journals as the Georgia Review, New England Review, and Witness. He has been a fellow at both the MacDowall and Yaddo writer’s colonies. He is a lifetime New Yorker and lives in New York City with his wife and children.

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Details

Details

Available Formats : Digital Download, Digital Rental, CD, MP3 CD
Category: Nonfiction
Runtime: 12.37
Audience: Adult
Language: English