On The Books: Author of Faked Holocaust Memoir Ordered to Pay $22.5 million

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Image Credit: Mary Schwalm/AP

In an almost mythological tale of hubris, Misha Defonseca, author of the best-selling Holocaust memoir Misha: A Mémoire of the Holocaust Years, has been ordered to pay her publisher $22.5 million after it was discovered that she faked her entire life story. Before the truth about her past came to light, Defonseca sued her publisher for $32.4 million for “breach of contract for hiding profits from the author.” While researching the book during the trial, the publisher realized that none of the facts checked out and Defonseca ended up confessing that she made the whole thing up. The $22.5 million is Defonseca’s portion of the $32.4 million judgement she won years ago and now must return. By now, the wild tale of a 7-year-old girl who trekked through the snowy wilderness after her parents were taken by Nazis has already been translated into 18 languages and made into a movie. [NY Post]

American teens are reading for pleasure way less than they used to. According to a study conducted by Common Sense Media, almost half of 17-year-olds say they read for pleasure no more than one or two times a year. This decline is happening despite the expanding number of platforms that are available to readers. The study does not link this to the internet directly, but researchers think the distractions from smart phones, infinitely streaming television and the k-hole of YouTube are a likely factor. [NPR]

Freakonomics fans can read an excerpt from Think Like a Freak, the authors Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner’s newest book about how to problem solve like…a freak. Sample advice: “It’s much better to ask small questions than big ones. Small questions…are virgin territory for true learning.” [Guardian]

Walter Isaacson, the best-selling author and president of the Aspen Institute, will deliver the Jefferson Lecture at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. tonight at 7:30 pm ET. Mr. Isaacson has written biographies of Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin and Steve Jobs, and he will be discussing the lives of all three men during his lecture on “The Intersection of the Humanities and the Sciences.” You can live stream the sold out lecture at the National Endowment for the Humanities website.


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