Cover image for Hoax : why Americans are suckered by White House lies
Hoax : why Americans are suckered by White House lies
Von Hoffman, Nicholas.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Nation Books, [2004]

Physical Description:
195 pages ; 20 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DS79.76 .V66 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



How is it that the majority of Americans believed the fabrications of the Bush administration in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq when people in other countries, even those who enlisted in "the coalition of the willing," didn't buy them? Something has happened here and nowhere else, argues provocateur and gadfly Nicholas von Hoffman. It is something that impels vast numbers of Americans to believe the unbelievable when served up by its war-loving government. Best-selling author von Hoffman reveals how the American people have been gulled into cheering for a gigantic hoax by the Bush administration. "It happened because America has manufactured its own reality. A dome has slipped over the country, turning the nation into a unique biosphere which causes Americans to see, hear, and interpret every event and each happenstance as no other people do. Poisoned by recycled, unrefreshed air, Americans think differently." Hoax is both an impassioned exploration of American propaganda andpublic opinion, and an urgent dissection of our culture and way of life.

Author Notes

Nicholas von Hoffman was born in New York City on October 16, 1929. After graduating from Fordham Preparatory School in the Bronx in 1948, he took a research job at the University of Chicago. In 1954, he became a field organizer in black and Hispanic communities on the South Side. He started his journalism career in 1963 at The Chicago Sun-Times. He wrote for The Washington Post from 1966 to 1976. After leaving The Post, he wrote syndicated freelance columns for King Features, wrote book reviews and magazine articles for The Times, and contributed to numerous publications including The New Republic, Esquire, Vogue, The Nation, Harper's, and The New York Review of Books.

In the early 1970s, he was a commentator on the Point/Counterpoint segment of the CBS program 60 Minutes. He was fired in 1974 for remarks he made about President Richard Nixon. He broadcast 250 commentaries on public affairs in the 1980s for the syndicated radio program Byline. He wrote columns for the weekly newspaper The New York Observer from 1993 to 2008 and contributed to Architectural Digest from 1996 to 2007. He also composed the libretto for Deborah Drattell's 2003 production of Nicholas and Alexandra by the Los Angeles Opera.

His first book, Mississippi Notebook, was published in 1964. His other nonfiction books included Multiversity, We Are the People Our Parents Warned Us Against, Citizen Cohn, Hoax: Why Americans Are Suckered by White House Lies, and Radical: A Portrait of Saul Alinsky. He wrote two novels entitled Organized Crimes and Two, Three, Many More. He also collaborated with Garry B. Trudeau on The Fireside Watergate and Tales from the Margaret Mead Taproom. von Hoffman died from kidney failure on February 1, 2018 at the age of 88.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

American gullibility for the images painted by our presidents made us vulnerable to the Bush administration's campaign to invade Iraq to search for weapons of mass destruction and to bring down Saddam Hussein, despite the fact that neither were related to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, according to acclaimed columnist von Hoffman. Furthermore, the big lie and the general duping of America have isolated us from the rest of the world, reinforcing the notion that we live in our own private biosphere. While Europe, Asia, Africa, and the remainder of the American continent question our actions and motives, we act with the strongest of convictions and military might, which make us a danger to ourselves and other nations, according to von Hoffman. The U.S. longs for Pax Americana, or world supervision by the U.S., under which mankind thrives in amity and free trade. Some readers may find von Hoffman's scathing observations of American foreign policy harsh, others will see them as exactly on target, but all will find them provocative. --Vanessa Bush Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

In the spate of post-Iraq War books, Von Hoffman's tirade is a smart, elegant standout. A columnist for the New York Observer (and author of several books, including Citizen Cohn), Von Hoffman argues that U.S. citizens have been willingly hoaxed into supporting America's foreign policies, most egregiously the recent invasion of Iraq. Von Hoffman employs the metaphor of a giant dome or biosphere that shields America and causes its people to interpret world events in uniquely American terms ("Nations are often imbued with the belief that they are special, but the American credo is that the US is special-special"). Instead of poll data and statistics, Von Hoffman relies on subtle, nuanced cultural analyses to examine the peculiarity of America's hermetic view of itself. A unique confluence of ideology, religion, culture, economics and history has, he says, settled Americans in a belief that its government does little wrong and certainly a lot more right than many other governments. Von Hoffman points to an array of factors for this belief, notably an almost secular faith in "manifest destiny" and the morality of democracy, media that act as a collective handmaiden to government action, and a smugness that hatred of the U.S. is simply born of envy of American wealth. While Von Hoffman's metaphors and histrionics are better suited to the polemical necessities of a newspaper column, this book is a worthy contribution to postwar annals. The author's informed, unblinking critique of America may not be palatable to the blindly patriotic, but it will resonate for those who question many of the Bush administration's decisions. Agent, Mary Evans. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

1. The Big Liep. 1
2. Desert Miragep. 11
3. The American Biospherep. 17
4. That City on That Hillp. 23
5. Flag Wavingp. 33
6. Democracies Are Always in the Rightp. 45
7. America Will Never Be the First to Use the Bombp. 49
8. A Pax Americana on Us Allp. 61
9. Hitlerp. 69
10. Conversation Stiflersp. 73
11. Tassels on the Fringep. 79
12. They Lie ... Sometimesp. 89
13. War Whoresp. 99
14. Missionariesp. 109
15. Why Do They Hate Us?p. 123
16. Unconditional Surrenderp. 129
17. Self Portraitp. 135
18. Terrorismp. 141
19. Conspiracyp. 151
20. Les Arabesp. 153
21. Mooslimsp. 161
22. Hoaxp. 175