Books: King of Frauds

THE FABULOUS SHOWMAN (317 pp.)—Irving Wallace—Knopf ($5).

It might be fitting if, at the time of their greatest embarrassment, the high-salaried humbuggers of TV were to observe a moment of noise in honor of Phineas Taylor Barnum. They might take comfort from the information that the old Bridgeport fraudmonger left an estate of $4,100,000 after a lifetime of ballyhooing fakes (and fakes of fakes; he once counterfeited the counterfeit fossilized Cardiff giant). Network presidents might reflect that Barnum would not have had fits of contrition; he would have locked his found-out quislings in a...

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