Belle Gibson convinced the world she had healed herself of terminal brain cancer by eating a healthy diet. She built a global business based on her story. There was just one problem: she never had cancer in the first place.
In 2015, journalists uncovered the truth behind Gibson’s lies. This hero of the wellness world, with over 200,000 followers, international book deals, and a best-selling mobile app, was a fraud. She had lied about having cancer — to her family and friends, to her business partners and publishers, and to the hundreds of thousands of people who were inspired by her, including real cancer survivors.
Written by the two journalists who uncovered the details of Gibson’s deception, The Woman Who Fooled the World tracks the 23-year-old's rise to fame and fall from grace. Told through interviews with the people who know her best, it explores the lure of alternative cancer treatments, exposes the darkness at the heart of the wellness and ‘clean eating’ movements, and reveals just how easy it is to manipulate people on social media.
With the idea of ‘clean eating’ now routinely debunked by dietary experts, and growing scepticism about the authenticity of what we read online, The Woman Who Fooled the World is a timely and important book that answers not just how, but why, Gibson was able to fool so many.
‘Meticulously researched and elegantly composed, The Woman Who Fooled The World is a journalistic detective story for the smart-phone age. Donelly and Toscano not only chart con artist Belle Gibson's rise to global acclaim and her crashing fall, they explore and explain modern society's willingness to believe in anyone, or anything, that offers hope of beating what is perhaps our greatest collective fear: cancer. For me, the book reaches its highest point when we hear from genuine cancer sufferers who believed in Gibson. Their honesty about their fears and uncertain futures counter balances the bullshit of Gibson and her profit-minded enablers. Donelly and Toscano give a master class in old-fashioned investigative journalism and a reminder of its potency and importance.’
Richard Baker, investigative journalist, The Age
‘It gives me great pleasure that this story has been told in such a compelling and readable way, as this surely means that it will reach the wide audience it deserves to. Not only does The Woman Who Fooled the World detail the sordid story of a young woman lying her way to fame and fortune, it also savagely exposes the wellness industry that enabled her rise. Although Belle Gibson has now been exposed, this brilliant book reveals how many others were complicit and culpable. I hope they are all thoroughly ashamed, and that this book serves as a powerful reminder, helping to ensure that this sort of deception is never allowed to happen again.’
Anthony Warner, The Angry Chef