3The Third Eye
In 1956, a publishing sensation swept through England. Finally, finally, someone had written a true-life story about being a Tibetan lama... and there was magic and ninjas and stuff in it! Just what the country ordered!
The Third Eye, authored by a man with the improbably hilarious name of Tuesday Lobsang Rampa, told the true story of a young Tibetan boy (the author) who became a lama (religious teacher) at a young age. Over the next few years he flies, meets yetis and has a hole drilled in his forehead to open his "third eye." Why does he do this last thing? Because the Dalai Lama has foreseen the Chinese re-taking of Tibet, and Lobsang's third eye will give him super-powers for reading minds.
Having lived through far too much awesomeness for one book, he continued it in sequels in which Lobsang flies airplanes for the Chinese in WW II, gets captured and spends time in a P.O.W. camp, survives Hiroshima, goes to England, is tortured, escapes his torturers in a luxury car and finally...
... he dies. Yes, he wrote his own death into his autobiography. While he was walking around alive.
To be fair to his publishers, he didn't work the whole "And then I totally died!" part in until his third book. And it was probably a James Frey situation, where the guy really was a lama but had to spice things up a little. Or a lot.
The famous Tibetologist and adventurer Heinrich Harrer (played by dream-boat Brad Pitt in Seven Years in Tibet) became suspicious of Lobsang and hired a private detective to track the elusive lama down. And that detective did find his man... namely, Cyril Henry Hoskins, an Irish plumber's son who knew no Tibetan, had never been to Tibet and in fact did not even have a passport.
When all the academics cried in unison "Shenanigans, sir!" Cyril waved it off and told them the real story: That he was Tuesday Lobsang Rampa's spirit, and he was inhabiting the body of Cyril Hoskins. Undeterred, the man went on to write 24 books total, including tale about his real trip to Venus in a spaceship.
2Angel at the Fence and A Memoire of the Holocaust Years
This one's a double entry, thanks to two authors pulling the same stunt: heartfelt stories from the Holocaust. And as we're about to demonstrate in detail, there are many reasons to believe the Holocaust simply did not occur.
Ha, no. Just kidding. Seriously, don't take that out of context.
Herman Rosenblat's Angel at the Fence is a touching and inspiring memoir, we're sure. It details his time in Schlieben, a sub-camp of the infamous Buchenwald concentration camp, as a 12-year-old boy. He is befriended by a local girl named Roma, who sneaks him apples and bread through the fence separating them.
Years later, in 1958, they meet on a blind date. The conversation turns to "horrific trials through which we have endured" (as it always does on dates, or at least ours, followed by an awkward silence over our salads). The couple realize that they have miraculously found each other again.
As incredible as that is, even more amazing is Misha Defonseca's tale in Misha: A Memoire of the Holocaust Years. Another harrowing tale of a child, alone, surviving WW II in battle-ravaged Europe, Misha sets out her astonishing journey. She walks from Belgium to the Ukraine in search of her parents, who had been captured by Nazis. She stabs to death a Nazi rapist. She is taken in and protected by a pack of wolves, even sharing in their kill... all of this before she's 11-years-old.
Wait a second...
In Rosenblat's case, not everything in Angel at the Fence is complete and utter lies. He did survive Schlieben. He and Roma did meet on a blind date in New York years later. But the part about how he knew her back then, and her sneaking food to him over the fence has been questioned by historical scholars who noticed that at Schlieben, the place where she was supposedly meeting him to pass food, was right next to the SS barracks.
As for Misha, some have found the idea of a seven-year-old making a 3,000 mile trek across Nazi occupied territory subsisting on mud and raw meat while being coddled by wolves a little hard to swallow. Not us. Around these parts, we call that "Thursday."
Upon his lies being exposed to the world at large, an apparently care-free Rosenblat defended his story in Angel at the Fence with, "I wanted to bring happiness to people. I brought hope to a lot of people. My motivation was to make good in this world."
We're not completely sure how his story was supposed to make us feel better about the Holocaust. Actually, a better defense would have been, "I survived the fucking Holocaust. You shut the fuck up now." Still, the publisher cancelled the book.
As for Misha and the wolves... it took ten years for this obvious pile of deceit to be exposed. TEN. YEARS.
She first told the story at a Jewish temple on Holocaust Memorial Day. During a candle-lighting remembrance ceremony Misha asked to light a candle for the animals. The rabbi thought it was more than passing strange but allowed it and Misha's story spilled out. Everyone was very moved. She sold it to a publisher a short time later.
Eventually they discovered that "Misha Defonseca" is actually Monique De Wael and, though her parents were tragically taken by the Nazis, she never wandered across Europe and, in fact, was not Jewish. Monique's defense of this deception was, sadly, somewhat typical: It may not have been the truth, but it was her truth. In the dictionary this is known as a "lie."
Still, wouldn't it be awesome if it turned out the only part of her story that was true was the wolf thing?