Publishers Weekly Review
On paper, Adam Wheeler was the ideal student: flawless test scores, glowing recommendations, and pitch-perfect admissions essays. One problem: they were all lies. In this straightforward account, Harvard Crimson managing editor Zauzmer unravels Wheeler's long con, in which admission to Harvard was just the beginning. A bright but not exceptional Delaware high school student, Wheeler first attended Bowdoin, Maine's small liberal arts college, and it was on this application that he honed his plagiarism skills, using the work of fellow students. He spent two years there before beginning the transfer process to Harvard in 2007, again forging his admission materials (this time using excerpts from published essays by five Harvard professors), claiming to have graduated from Andover-having taken an unheard-of 16 AP tests-and spent a year at MIT. Just as his Harvard acceptance was confirmed, Bowdoin uncovered Wheeler's penchant for plagiarism. The lies did not cease once he arrived in Cambridge; his professors praised him as a brilliant writer, not realizing that the papers he turned in were graduate dissertations he found online. Only when Wheeler applied for Rhodes and Fulbright scholarships was his trail of deceit discovered, leading to expulsion and criminal charges. Though Zauzmer offers little analysis or perspective on Wheeler's actions, the bizarre nature of the case is hook enough. Agent: Jeff Herman, Jeff Herman Agency. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Booklist Review
This is the kind of story Ben Mezrich (The Accidental Billionaires, 2009) might tell, if Harvard Crimson reporter Zauzmer hadn't beaten him to it. Adam Wheeler was a determined, resourceful, apparently bright young man who, for a few years, lived the life of an academic overachiever, using a stellar record at MIT to gain acceptance to Harvard. But here's the thing: he never attended MIT (although he did go to Bowdoin, where he was placed on academic suspension). And, like his acceptance to Bowdoin, his entry into Harvard was based on forged documents, plagiarized admissions essays, and a whole lot of clever deceit. Wheeler lied and cheated his way into an institution thousands of students dream of attending, and it seems not just fitting, but karmically appropriate, that his arrogance eventually got the best of him, and his lies were exposed. The book ends with a trial, a stay in a mental hospital, and imprisonment. Far from being a likable rogue whom the reader will root for, Wheeler comes across as a sociopath with few, if any, redeeming qualities. The book, however, has many: a sharply defined central character; objective, reportorial prose; and some fascinating information on the impracticalities of forging an education.--Pitt, David Copyright 2010 Booklist