American Goliath: A Novel of the Cardiff Giant

Harvey Jacobs, Author St. Martin's Press $24.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-312-16771-4
Based on a true story of American fraud and gullibility, this delightfully ribald and tongue-in-cheek account ""Inspired by the True, Incredible Events Surrounding the Mysterious Marvel Known to the Astonished World as the Cardiff Giant"" breathes life and magic into the P.T. Barnum era and a legendary hoax. In 1868, prodigal George Hull is exiled to his sister's home in Iowa after his father (patriarch of a family of Binghamton, N.Y., cigar makers) discovers him in bed with his sexy sister-in-law. In Iowa, George hears a wild-eyed preacher, claiming that Genesis actually took place in America, declare: ""There were Giants in the earth in those days."" When archeologists start digging up human fossils in rural New York near George's hapless cousin Stubby Newell's farm in Cardiff, George procures a massive slab of Iowa stone and hires a pair of hard-bitten tombstone sculptors to make the evidence that will confirm the preacher's claim. With the unwitting help of an itinerant Jewish dowser, well-diggers exhume the colossus and turn it into an overnight sensation. This arouses the competitive juices of P.T. Barnum and his sidekick, General Tom Thumb: suddenly the Giant has a twin. Embroidered with cameos of Boss Tweed, Edwin Booth, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Oliver Wendell Holmes, J.P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, Cornelius Vanderbilt and others, this quaint tapestry is further enlivened with enough lewd misbehavior to put a smile on even the stoniest face. (Oct.) FYI: The Cardiff Giant is on permanent display at the Farmer's Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997
Release date: 10/01/1997
Paperback - 356 pages - 978-0-312-19438-3
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