Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Famous Frauds and Charlatans

The Los Angeles Times sums up the revelations about a book that was recently released to approving reviews, only to be found out to be a complete fabrication.

The book's "Love and Consequences" and it purports to be the biography of a mixed race girl raised by a black foster family in south central Los Angeles with all the horrible stuff that happens. Turns out the author's really a 33 year old white woman from Oregon who may not ever have gotten within hailing distance of a real live negro.

It brings to mind other frauds perpetrated by people with book deals in hand: "A Million Little Pieces" comes to mind. So does Kaayva Visanthwan's "Opal Mehta" ripoff (imagine-an unpublished teenager netting a half million dollar advance?), the Emily Davies contretemps that netted her a cool $900,000 and Jayson Blair, fired by the New York Times for plagiarizing with mad abandon.

There are others. The stakes are high, of course.

A professor at the law school I attended produced a law review article that proved to have borrowed heavily from an unpublished manuscript from a fellow in Minnesota and it cost the professor his cushy job. A graduate of the University of Iowa law school had his degree cancelled and lost his law license over plagiarism.

What happens to those who don't get caught straight off the bat? They spend the rest of their lives looking over their shoulders, I guess.

I'm always in awe of the chutzpah these folks display.


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