... mesmerizing ... By the end of the book, one feels sorry for Ms. King, not so much because a con man gulled her but because, from the universe of journalists who might have covered this story, she drew Mr. Sabar. Pursuing the King-Fritz drama, he left no stone unturned...His conclusion is devastating ... delectable melodrama. There are dozens more surprises in his five-act play than in this brief appreciation. Savor the denouement—and don’t leave at intermission.
Veritas, Sabar’s exhausting, madcap, unforgettable book...is for enthusiasts of ancient Christianity, as well as anyone who likes watching snooty academics brought low and readers of idea-driven capers, whether by Daniel Silva or Janet Malcolm. It’s a barely believable tale, crazier than a tweed-sniffer in the faculty lounge. The book’s flaws are those of a journalist who Goes Big. It is 34 percent too long. Sabar often overreaches, as when he dips a toe, then plunges, into the psychoanalysis of his subjects ... There’s lot of this breathy melodrama, useful for the screenplay I hope is coming.
... extraordinary ... You could not find a better demonstration of the central truth about forgeries: that historical verisimilitude does not lie in reflecting the sensibility of the past but rather in fulfilling the persuasions and aspirations of the present ... It would be unfair to tell you, for, in truth, the book is as good as a detective novel, possessing plot, subplots, hidden motives, bees in eccentric bonnets and startling revelations
Book-length expansions of articles often seem bloated, but this one is a remarkable exception. Every page of its icily forensic narrative advances the story in some unexpected way, continually modifying one’s understanding of its principal players and their complex motives. It is partly a psychological thriller about the danse macabre that goes on between a skilled con man and a well-chosen mark, partly a global-historical blockbuster with variants on the obligatory tropes: lurid sex, wicked priests, Egyptology, Nazis. But it is also, most interestingly, a sustained study of the clash between the idea of historical truth as a set of objective facts waiting to be uncovered by rigorous inquiry and the more contemporary notion of it as a construct, amenable to (and fair game for) deliberate intervention. Sabar is clearly in favour of establishing the historical truth, and the spectacular results of his old-fashioned diligence stand as a 400-page rebuke to those who aren’t. But a surprising magnanimity prevails, with both King and her manipulator retaining a measure of sympathy, even respect, to the end ... it leaves you with the potent image of a woman who, far from being anyone’s dupe, knew exactly what she was doing all along.
If turning scraps of ancient papyrus into an enthralling true-crime escapade takes a miracle, consider Ariel Sabar a miracle worker ... [Sabar] transforms top-notch research skills into riveting suspense ... Sabar scales mountains of primary documents, wades through hours of interviews, uncovers intrigue in East Germany during the Cold War and falls through a startling looking-glass, to find a cuckold-fetish porn franchise with mystical notions about itself, all on his uncanny search for the truth about Jesus's alleged wife ... an extraordinary and mind-bending adventure into ancient traditions with modern consequences.
Ariel Sabar takes the reader on a tour de force of investigative journalism to uncover the 'fake news' in a story that shook both the faithful as well as the academy ... a page-turner. Mr. Sabar brilliantly presents the story as a murder mystery, uncovering new forensic evidence in each chapter. The book is enhanced by his ability to familiarize himself with the background—ancient Gnostic teachings, the science of dating manuscripts, the black market in antiquities, and the 'politics' of the relevant fields in the academy ... Mr. Sabar’s book is a model on how to investigate any new 'discoveries' from ancient texts. It is also a cautionary tale about the acceptance of experts and expertise at face value.
... offers a vital lesson less about Christianity than about what happens when a scholar decides that the story is more important than the truth ... convincing and damning ... By the end of Veritas, the reader is left wishing King had stuck to her own vision of 'good history' and asked the hard questions before she went public.
It is a sad but fascinating tale, and Ariel Sabar digs out every detail in his engrossing book ... Sabar arrived at such amateur psychoanalytic insights only after exhaustively (obsessively is a better word) digging into King's and Fritz's personal histories. He takes the trouble to track down local newspaper reports of King's 1977 wedding and court records of her divorce five years later, even though her marriage seems irrelevant to the larger story. Sabar's account of how he uncovered Fritz's childhood history in Germany is similarly tedious and mostly unnecessary, as when he details how he perused old episodes of a German soap opera in order to verify the identity of Fritz's half-brother ... But such digging also produced some priceless nuggets, giving credence to a fantastical story whose elements would otherwise be unbelievable ... The interaction of these two characters, one with a deep need to deceive and the other with a desperate need to believe, presents a wholly human story of frailty and weakness.
Sabar offers plenty of fascinating arcana about scientific and historical methods for testing and analyzing such an object, and he also brings to life many of the people involved ... Veritas is packed with details and tells a complex story, but Sabar’s prose is clear and inviting, and the book is structured with a well-tuned sense of suspense. It’s a wonderfully absorbing example of truth being stranger than fiction.
Sabar is an experienced journalist. Here he puts his considerable investigative chops to work and fashions a cautionary tale about experts and expertise that is minutely researched and thoroughly absorbing ... Sabar does an exemplary job of not only digging into every facet, and then some, of the story of Fritz and the long con he pulled on King and Harvard, but in digesting it all and synthesizing it into a comprehensible and exciting narrative. It’s a wild and educational ride. Along the way, readers learn about early Christian history, the vagaries of Copitic script and grammar, the place of papyrus in written communication, methods of dating antiquities, the psychology of the con artist and a great deal more ... Even if the author burrows a bit deep in the weeds in some of his research, the rewards for the reader are still great. In Veritas, Sabar turns a complex, esoteric story into a page turner, and reaffirms the adage that truth is stranger than fiction.
... an exhaustive examination of the whole affair in a work of exemplary narrative nonfiction ... Sabar also seems to have an agenda, often going out of his way to throw shade at King. Provocative and probing, this will entice readers interested in the history of early Christianity.
... entertaining ... Sabar’s narrative can be challenging to follow at times, in part because of the large cast that spans centuries, and also due to a frustrating aimlessness about exactly what mystery Sabar sees as central to his narrative: how the fraud happened, or the reasons—political, financial, and psychological—people were carried away by it. Still, this meticulous account is packed with enough intrigue to keep readers piqued.