The 6 Most Ridiculous Lies Ever Published as Nonfiction

#3. The Education of Little Tree Was Secretly Written by a KKK Member

University of New Mexico Press

The Book:

The Education of Little Tree is the touching autobiography of Native American author Forrest Carter. Get it? "Little Tree" grows into "Forrest." That is but one of the many ways this magical story will blow your mind. In the book, Carter writes about the life-changing spiritual lessons he learned during his enlightening childhood with an old-fashioned and wise Cherokee grandpa.

Delacorte Press
Aka Killer Bob from Twin Peaks.

The book became an international sensation in the '70s, and its message of harmony and tolerance turned Carter into an icon of the Native American people. Here's an example of the nuggets of wisdom you can find in this classic: "Little Tree, I must go. Like you feel the trees, feel for us when you are listening."

The Bullshit:

And here's another sample from the same writer: "Segregation now! Segregation tomorrow! Segregation forever!" Forrest Carter, the tree-loving gentle soul who touched and inspired millions, was secretly Asa Earl Carter, the white supremacist dickhead who wrote an infamous segregation-loving speech for Governor George Wallace of Alabama.

Salon
Both pictured here, on the verge of collapsing into an asshole singularity.

This isn't a case of "He was in the Hitler Youth when he was 5 years old" -- the dude was literally a Ku Klux Klan leader whose paramilitary group assaulted and castrated people. Only a few years after running for governor on a "kill blackie" platform in 1970 (he came in last), Carter reinvented himself as a Western writer, penning the book that inspired the Clint Eastwood spitfest The Outlaw Josey Wales. At some point he must have gotten a little mixed up, because he started pretending the bullshit he was writing about actually happened to him. And just like that, this champion of the white race was suddenly half-Cherokee.

It was only in 1991, when Carter was long dead and rotting in the corner of hell devoted to race-faking racists, that his full story was finally exposed ... which didn't stop his still-beloved book from (temporarily) making it into Oprah's Book Club and getting adapted into a sentimental family movie.

Oprah.com
And from then on, Oprah was diligent about making sure the books on her list were 100 percent factual.

#2. The Author of Three Cups of Tea Faked His Taliban Kidnapping

Puffin

The Book:

Three Cups of Tea tells the story of Greg Mortenson, a philanthropist, mountaineer, and general all-around ball of goodness. His quest started the day he got lost during a hiking trip in Pakistan and wound up in a tribal village, where he noticed the kids didn't have a school. Touched, he promised to build them one -- and he did. Then he built another, and another, and so on, forever.

Penguin Books
"Hooray, math. Can we have some food now?"

From that point on, he went around the world building schools in poor areas and raising money for his charity, the Central Asia Institute. That doesn't mean he stopped having crazy adventures, though; in 1996, during a trip to Waziristan to find an empty spot to fill with classrooms, he got kidnapped by the Taliban. To give us an idea of how scary that was, his book includes a photo of his evil captors:

CBS via YouTube
"Aashir, you can clean your rifle any time. Memories are forever."

Thankfully, after eight days, Mortenson managed to convince the Taliban to free him just by being his awesome self. Phew!

The Bullshit:

Hey, here's another picture of Mortenson and his "kidnappers." See him? He's the one holding the AK-47.

CBS via YouTube
The dude in blue is really committed to that chest purse.

Oh, right. Those aren't Mortenson's kidnappers, those are the people who protected him against kidnappings. He never saw the Taliban in Waziristan, because there were no Taliban in Waziristan in 1996. In reality, Mortenson spent most of his time there chilling with those dudes in their homes, as their guest. And that whole story about getting lost in Pakistan? His own hiking buddies say it only happened in his imagination.

Of course, this doesn't mean that Greg Mortenson hasn't helped a lot of children. He has. His charity built lots of schools around the world ... many of which are now abandoned or destroyed because financial support was cut off. To be fair, Mortenson's charity had more important things to do, like spend almost $3 million on book-related costs -- or funding private jets, expensive clothes, and even iTunes downloads for his family. Because if you can't use someone's donation to buy the latest Ke$ha single, then the terrorists win.

Penguin Books via The Road to the Horizon
Pictured: Mortenson and the dangerous terrorists who forced him to spend all that money.

#1. The Blood Runs Like a River Through My Dreams Is Outrageous Bullshit

Mariner Books

The Book:

Brace yourselves, because the book's title is the least ridiculous part of this story.

The Blood Runs Like a River Through My Dreams is the critically lauded first book by an author known only as Nasdijj, who tells the story of his adopted son who died from fetal alcohol syndrome. The book was a hit, so Nasdijj followed it up with another autobiographical work, this one about the other kid he adopted, who had AIDS. Holy shit, this guy can't catch a break.

Incipit Nova Vita
Two seconds after this picture was taken, that dog spontaneously combusted.

Nasdijj was hailed as an important new voice in the world of nonfiction, and his books became popular for their raw description of Native American life. What's that? We didn't mention he was claiming to be Native American? Huh, probably should have started there.

The Bullshit:

We weren't being completely accurate when we said The Blood was Nasdijj's first book -- years earlier and under a different name, he'd published novels with names like Mineshaft or My Brother, My Lover. We'll let you guess what the plot is about.

Gay Sunshine Press
OSHA approved mouth-to-mouth resuscitation

Yep, the solemn Nasdijj was actually a gay leather bondage porn writer, but there's nothing wrong with using a pseudonym to hide the fact that you used to write something embarrassing, like hardcore erotica or list comedy articles. There is, however, a lot wrong with pretending to be Native American when you're a white dude named Tim Barrus (as you'd think writers would fucking get by now), and with writing "real" books about your dead children who never existed.

Barrus and his ex-wife did adopt an autistic boy in the '70s, but he didn't die; they gave him up. It also turned out that this wasn't Barrus' first shot at the autobullshitography genre -- in the 1980s, he was blacklisted from the gay erotica industry (a not unimpressive feat) for passing off other writers' stories as his own, and in the '90s, he wrote a book about his nonexistent affair with a commanding officer during his nonexistent tour in the Vietnam War.

LA Weekly
He was excused from military service due to a gross penile deformity.

After LA Weekly published an expose of him called "Navahoax" (obviously), Barrus/Nasdijj fessed up to the entire thing, and he now lives a simple life somewhere in America, most likely stalking fanfiction.net for ideas for his next juicy novel.


Vann Vicente is a college student who lives in a jungle in the Philippines. You can check him out on Twitter @vannisokay or send him an email at vannvicente@gmail.com.

Related Reading: Speaking of lies, check out these oddly specific lies we believe about foreigners. And for your further edification, our forum members have put together a list of lies you've read online today, revised for accuracy. Hey, did you know your favorite companies (including Apple) have gone to court for the right to lie to you? It's sad but true.

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