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Extended Audio Sample The Sun and the Moon: The Remarkable True Account of Hoaxers, Showmen, Dueling Journalists, and Lunar Man-Bats in Nineteenth-Century New York Audiobook, by Matthew Goodman Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (191 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Matthew Goodman Narrator: Malcolm Hillgartner Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: April 2009 ISBN: 9781455191895
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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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Quotes & Awards

  • “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)

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Erin | 2/18/2014

    " Okay, so I enjoyed this book, but it was really hard at times to get through. There are lots of twists and turns and rabbit trails in the book - all interesting enough and full of trivia bits, but it does make it a little hard to follow. The lives of Robert Allen Locke, P. T. Barnum, and many others are all entwined to describe the history of the New York newspaper, the Sun, and the Moon Hoax that made it famous. I learned a lot about the development of the newspaper in the 1800s from an elitist purchase item concerning only the upper classes (and sometimes merchants) to a relatively cheap item full of sensational items that would appeal to the general public. Really, the content of the book is really interesting, it's just the formatting that I had trouble with. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jrobertus | 2/14/2014

    " This book is astonishing. It vividly presents New York, and the nation, in the 1830s. There is poverty and hope as scrappy people struggle to thrive. Slavery is a big issue across the land and newspapers are a new thing. The NY Sun costs a penny and allows people to read a paper who never did so. The editor is a crusader against slavery which is just one issue that brings rivals to blows. Crime reporting spurs sales, but the most amazing thing is a fabricated story that John Hershel has found life on the moon. This saga was written by Richard Locke (distant relative of John Locke), and his personal story is amazing in its own right. People from all over the world are swept up in the utopian moon fantasy. Even PT Barnum, a huckster par excellance, is amazed and admiring. Edgar Alan Poe is outraged because he feels his idea has been stolen! At the center of the hoax, its initial acceptance and then criticism, is religion versus science. Locke and Barnum were both religious skeptics and decried the gullibility of people, many of whom took this story as being consistent with the bible and used that interpretation as a basis for believing the unbelievable. Locke was a great crusader against slavery and many of his critics also found biblical support for slavery, which enraged Locke. There are so many issues raised by this wonderful and amazing book,many of which are still circulating today is one guise or another. I recommend this book without reservation. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Charlie | 2/2/2014

    " 1800s and how the newspapers got started, first newsboys, fierce competition, who wrote articles, how hoaxes got started and thrived, the content of first papers,how the poor could finaly afford to read the news, etc. I'm loving it. with no copyright laws, with no libel or slander laws, and no other sources for news- publishers got away with the the wildest stories unchallenged. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mary Stephanos | 1/17/2014

    " This book is an exceptionally well-written account of a hoax that galvanized New York City in 1835, drawing in such figures as P.T. Barnum and Edgar Allan Poe and helping to usher in the newspaper age. It is also an engaging account of the development of urban newspapers in the 19th century. Recommended for anyone interested in American popular culture or the history of mass media. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Justin Howe | 1/14/2014

    " Great fun and very informative book on early 19th century New York. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Clark | 1/12/2014

    " What an amazing hidden history of New York City, newspapers, Edgar Allen Poe, and PT Barnum! A vibrant picture of 1830's Manhattan that takes the reader to the moon (with its Lunar Man Bats, Giant Bipedal Beavers, and Unicorns.... yeah, you read that correctly) and back. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Gavin | 1/7/2014

    " Very informative about the fledgling newspaper industry in New York City in the 1830's. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Brett Mann | 11/24/2013

    " If you love NYC, you will love this book. A wonderful way to learn about old New York, the rise of tabloid journalism, and how millions around the world fell for one of the greatest hoax's of all time: life on the moon -- or should I say a circus on the moon. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 John | 9/6/2013

    " this is a boring and horrible book. It covers an article written in a newspaper in the first hald of the 19th century. It tells somethings about people in New York at the time. All told, it would be a good article in the New YOrker. But a 300 page book it's not. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tyler | 9/1/2013

    " Beware of man-bats! Mid-19th Century New York based book. Really liked it. It goes into detail of the lives of some of the famous personalities from the age. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jetamors | 7/18/2013

    " This was an interesting book about an interesting bit of American history. I'm not sure if the sections on P.T. Barnum were really necessary, though; I kept expecting him to be involved in the moon hoax somehow, but he didn't seem to have any direct connection to it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Laurie | 6/22/2013

    " A decent find on the Chapters Bargain shelf. A hoax that launched the penny press in 1830s New York, with P.T. Barnum, George Washington's 160 year-old nanny, and Edgar Allen Poe all a prominent part of the narrative. Enjoyable "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jaq Greenspon | 2/19/2013

    " Really interesting story, although the premise seems to get a bit confused at times. It's also interesting in that P.T. Barnum and E.A. Poe are both prominent figures and they both come off in a different light than one with a casual knowledge of they or their work would expect. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Debra | 9/12/2012

    " Very interesting look at turn of the century newspapers. Very readable "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kay | 7/22/2012

    " I realized while reading this book that I really enjoy tales of hucksters, hoaxers, and flim-flam men, so much so that I've decided to dedicate a shelf to this odd genre entitled "credulity." "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Elizabeth L. | 6/25/2012

    " I want to like this but it is trying very hard to put together disparate elements into a Winchesterian/Kurlanskian Coincidental Microhistory, and it's just not working. Maybe I'm too familiar with the turf. Anyone else read it? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 JulieK | 5/1/2012

    " I would've liked it better with some editing to winnow out excessive detail and a few of the less productive tangents. But the main story was interesting, and I especially enjoyed the snapshot of the state of journalism in 1830s New York. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bev | 4/22/2012

    " This book takes you back to the good old days of print media when the best a journalist could look forward to was tuberculosis and words like objectivity and libel had very little legal meaning. It's a fun escape for anyone sick of reading "death of newspapers" articles on nytimes.com "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jetamors | 12/21/2010

    " This was an interesting book about an interesting bit of American history. I'm not sure if the sections on P.T. Barnum were really necessary, though; I kept expecting him to be involved in the moon hoax somehow, but he didn't seem to have any direct connection to it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michael | 7/13/2010

    " Enjoying read about 19th century New York, the Moon Hoax, Joice Heth and the personalities involved in the local newspaper scene (among them Richard Adams Locke, Edgar Allan Poe and P.T. Barnum). "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Elizabeth | 4/17/2010

    " I want to like this but it is trying very hard to put together disparate elements into a Winchesterian/Kurlanskian Coincidental Microhistory, and it's just not working. Maybe I'm too familiar with the turf. Anyone else read it? "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 John | 10/11/2009

    " this is a boring and horrible book. It covers an article written in a newspaper in the first hald of the 19th century. It tells somethings about people in New York at the time. All told, it would be a good article in the New YOrker. But a 300 page book it's not. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Justin | 6/30/2009

    " Great fun and very informative book on early 19th century New York. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 JulieK | 6/10/2009

    " I would've liked it better with some editing to winnow out excessive detail and a few of the less productive tangents. But the main story was interesting, and I especially enjoyed the snapshot of the state of journalism in 1830s New York. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Gavin | 2/2/2009

    " Very informative about the fledgling newspaper industry in New York City in the 1830's. "

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About the Author

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.

About the Narrator

Malcolm Hillgartner is an actor, author, playwright, and professional narrator. Under the name Jahnna N. Malcolm, he and his wife, Jahnna Beecham, have written over one hundred books for young readers; their musicals have played in theaters across America. His audiobook credits include works by Dean Koontz, Nelson Algren, and William F. Buckley Jr. He has won four AudioFile Earphones Awards.