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

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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About the Author-
  • Matthew Goodman received an MFA from Vermont College. His writing has appeared in the Harvard Review, Georgia Review, New England Review, American Scholar, and Utne Reader. A former fellow at the MacDowall and Yaddo colonies, he lives in New York City with his wife and children.

Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine New Yorkers like to think of themselves as sophisticates, but in the summer of 1835 they were anything but. An elaborate hoax, perpetrated by NEW YORK SUN editor Richard Adams Locke, tricked them into believing that the moon is inhabited by animals such as unicorns and four-foot-tall talking "man-bats." 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. K.M. (c) AudioFile 2009, Portland, Maine
  • Publisher's Weekly

    September 15, 2008
    Goodman offers a highly atmospheric account of a hoax that he says reflects the birth of tabloid journalism and New York City’s emergence as a city with worldwide influence. In August 1835, New York Sun
    editor Richard Adams Locke wrote and published a hoax about a newfangled telescope that revealed fantastic images of the moon, including poppy fields, waterfalls and blue skies. Animals from unicorns to horned bears inhabited the moon, but most astonishing were the four-foot-tall “man-bats” who talked, built temples and fornicated in public. The sensational moon hoax was reprinted across America and Europe. Edgar Allan Poe grumbled that the tale had been cribbed from one of his short stories; Sun
    owner Benjamin Day saw his paper become the most widely read in the world; and a pre-eminent British astronomer complained that his good name had been linked to those “incoherent ravings.” Goodman (Jewish Food
    ) offers 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. B&w illus.

  • Library Journal

    May 1, 2009
    The focus of this work concerns a series of 1835 "New York Sun" articles that convinced many of that newspaper's readers that the moon was inhabited. Goodman ("Jewish Food: The World at Table") gives the context of the time while also providing a look at the life of Richard Adams Locke, who wrote and published these stories, and such figures as P.T. Barnum and Edgar Allan Poe. Malcolm Hillgartner ("The Reagan I Knew") reads with great energy and enthusiasm. Public libraries may wish to consider this one. [Audio clip available through www.blackstoneaudio.com; the Basic Books hc was described as more likely to appeal "to the general reader than to the academic," "LJ" 9/15/08.Ed.]Michael T. Fein, Central Virginia Community Coll. Lib., Lynchburg

    Copyright 2009 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus Reviews (starred review) “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.”
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The Sun and the Moon
The Sun and the Moon
The Remarkable True Account of Hoaxers, Showmen, Dueling Journalists, and Lunar Man-Bats in Nineteenth-century New York
Matthew Goodman
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