Famous Forged Documents and Their Historical Legacy


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SKU: 9781476678399 Category: Tags: , ,

About the Book

Throughout history, forgers have attempted to fabricate documents to manipulate the historical record. The book explores the most egregious cases—their intent, effectiveness, exposure and significance—from the Donation of Constantine to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion to the Hitler Diaries.

Ironically, forgeries have helped advance the discipline of history. Case studies trace how scholars worked to reveal the truth behind bogus manuscripts while developing new tools and standards for accuracy and authenticity. In the age of “fake news” and digital editing software, the spectacular history of fraud in print has never been more relevant.

About the Author(s)

Dónal O’Sullivan is a history professor at California State University, Northridge, and his research areas are Russian history and 20th century European history.

Bibliographic Details

Dónal O’Sullivan
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 301
Bibliographic Info: 30 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2023
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7839-9
eISBN: 978-1-4766-5000-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface 1
Introduction 3
1. Forgeries in Antiquity 13
2. Pious Fraud: On Christian ­Pseudo-Epigraphy 21
3. The ­Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals: The Perpetual Puzzle 34
4. To Dare to Speak Out: Lorenzo Valla and the Donation of Constantine 49
5. Tuscan Pride: Viterbo, Volterra and the Etruscan Scarith 64
6. The Forged Past: Romantic Imagination and Nationalism 83
7. Charles Bertram: The Forger of Roman Britain 87
8. The Wagenfeld Case 91
9. The Case of Constantine Simonides 94
10. Nationalist Myths: Herder’s Influence 104
11. The Fame of the Nation: Hanka’s Czech Forgeries 112
12. British Forgeries: Parnell and Piggott 118
13. Peter the Great’s Fourteen Points: Russia’s Master Plan 123
14. Forged Autographs: The Duped Mathematician 132
15. Patriotic Fraud: The “Faux Henry” of the Dreyfus Case 138
16. Fabricating Hatred: The Protocols of the Elders of Zion 147
17. Chinese Mirrors: The Mannix and Backhouse Forgeries 153
18. Fanning the Red Scare: The Zinoviev Letter 165
19. Washington’s Regrets: American Forgeries 171
20. Fabricated Frontier History: The Horn Papers 174
21. The FBI “Suicide Letter” to Martin Luther King, Jr. 180
22. Cold War Campaigns: Soviet Disinformation Forgeries 186
23. Texfake: Forged Documents from the Alamo Period 194
24. Master Forger, Duped Historian: The Hitler Diaries 198
25. Rathergate: The Killian Documents 205
26. Letter from the Desert: The “Gay Jesus” Gospel 210
27. Invented Fragments: The Fake Holocaust Survivor 216
28. Forging with Photopolymer Plates: Galileo’s Starry Messenger 233
Conclusion: How Forged Documents Benefit History 253
Chapter Notes 261
Bibliography 281
Index 291