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Flawless: Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History Hardcover – February 2, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Union Square Press; First Edition edition (February 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1402766513
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402766510
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #797,952 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Two experts on diamonds--Selby wrote his master's thesis on them, Campbell authored Blood Diamonds: Tracing the Deadly Path of the World's Most Precious Stones--turn in a top-notch true-crime read while dissecting the plot, the payoff, and the post-op investigation of a group of professional thieves who ripped off a supposedly impregnable vault in Antwerp, the heart of the world's diamond trade. As Selby and Campbell probe the personalities and mechanics behind the 2003 heist, readers will learn plenty about diamonds, their value and handling, the ubiquitous black market, the history of De Beers, the intricacies of insurance, and the safeguards (or lack thereof) meant to secure a constant flow of cut and uncut diamonds. Readers will also become familiar with the elite fraternity of thieves determined to carry out the impossible crime, known as the "School of Turin," and it's hard not to root for them. The minutiae of the preparation, the drama of the robbery, and the details of the investigation are all equally fascinating, supplying myriad surprises all the way through the machinations of the Belgium justice system (even now, the loot is still at large). Like a diamond, this true-life caper is clear, colorful, and brilliant. 24 b&w illus.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* In February 2003, thieves broke into the Diamond Center in Antwerp—one of the most secure diamond facilities in the world—and absconded with merchandise worth, according to some reports, in the neighborhood of $500 million. This excellent true-crime account lays out the heist in precise detail (although some elements of the crime, such as how the crooks got through a combination-locked vault door, remain shrouded in mystery). The thieves, led by notorious Italian jewel thief Leonardo Notarbartolo, were a clever bunch—this was an audacious, complex, and well-planned operation—but they also made some really dumb mistakes, like throwing away bags of trash with incriminating evidence inside them. Fans of caper books and movies will be in seventh heaven here, not only for the detail-rich descriptions of the crime but also for the narrative style. This is an exciting and suspenseful story, and it reads like the best caper fiction, with lively characters and some surprising twists. Readers familiar with Donald E. Westlake’s Dortmunder novels will note many common elements here (except this heist itself actually works). Comparisons to Ocean’s Eleven are obvious, too, although the less-tricked-up, more procedural The Score is perhaps a more appropriate filmic companion. A must-read for true-crime fans. --David Pitt

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Very well written.
Debbie
And though it usually takes me several weeks to read a nonfiction book, this one only took a couple of days because I absolutely didn't want to have to put it down.
J. Rhine
This is actually two books in one: the story of the heist and one of the diamond industry itself and both are fascinating.
Jeffrey Swystun

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By ScanMyPhotos on February 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Flawless: Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History.

You can't help but read this book non-stop. The details, action and polished descriptions are riveting.

I read Flawless right away, as soon as it arrived from Amazon. I couldn't put it down. It reads like "Devil in the White City"--true crime come to life! No one dies in this book, but it still was an exciting read. And I learned about diamonds. Can't wait for seeing what I read in the theaters - it too will be a blockbuster.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Inspired Reader on February 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I absolutely could not put this book down! Flawless is, well, flawless. If you love true crime, can't pull yourself away from cop dramas, and are a fan of espionage tales, then this book is for you.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Robert Busko VINE VOICE on February 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Scott Selby and Greg Campbell's Flawless: Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History is a nail biting, page turning romp through a real life caper. You may not recognize Selby's name, but Greg Campbell wrote Blood Diamonds, a pretty good read in itself. It is hard not to compare Flawless to Ocean's Eleven, Twelve, and Thirteen although the comparison is unfair. Flawless actually happened. These movies were just made up glitz; interesting, but made up none the less.

The nighttime theft happened Valentines weekend, 2003 when the thieves broke into the Diamond Center in Antwerp. The Diamond Center isn't Fort Know, but it was guarded by every security device one could think of; round the clock gaurds, motion and vibration sensors, and an 18 steel vault door and locks requiring multiple keys and combinations. While the author's tell us a lot about the crime, who committed it, and how it was done, certain aspects are left unreported. How the actual vault door was compromised, for example is missing. I suspect this is to be expected. The authors also examine the diamond industry, literally from top to bottom.

Well researched and told in a "novelistic" manner, Flawless is one book you have to read, especially if you're a true crime fan.

I highly recommend this page turner and time burner. You'll enjoy it.

Peace
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By J. Dreyer on February 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What a treat to read about a real-life theft more astounding than any invented for tv or movies. The School of Turin, as the diamond thieves are known, really pulled off the crime of all crimes, and I found I had to keep reading to find out how they did it...and what happened to them afterwards (wow). In the process I gained insight into the fascinating world of the diamond trade, and learned about the gems themselves and the political and humanitarian issues surrounding their mining. The writing is excellent, the story unbelievable! - I truly looked forward to the time I could spend with this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Librarian VINE VOICE on February 26, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Readers will devour Flawless, Union Square Press' sparkling new non-fiction title. Within the pages, authors Scott Andrew Selby and Greg Campbell (Blood Diamonds) detail the events surrounding the greatest diamond heist in history.

Half a billion dollars in gems boosted from an impenetrable underground vault within Antwerp's locked down diamond district?

Oh yeah, I'm all over this one.

A rich veneer of history overlays the narrative. With focus and clarity, Flawless examines not only the oft politicized roots of diamond industry but also the origins of the gems themselves. As the world's most liquid commodity, for centuries these jewels have been mined and funneled into the pockets of tycoons and tyrants alike.

Millions of dollars worth of carats are passed from hand to hand...and it all happens in Belgium, baby. Antwerp rose to prominence over a century to become the center of world diamond trade. The book thoroughly explores the dichotomy between Antwerp's moneyed diamond district and the surrounding tourist infested streets before transporting the reader to the backrooms and back alleys of Turin, Italy, a haven for mystics and thieves.

While the locales are in intriguing enough by themselves, the criminal masterminds responsible for the heist hijack the reader's attention. Leonardo Notarbartolo and his gang of thieves are anything but the usual suspects; the "School of Turin" makes Danny Ocean's crew look like small time crooks.

Flawless outshines most of the historical capers I've seen on the shelves. You'll want to snag a copy. The execution of the premise is THAT good. Even though the loot has never been recovered, you'll enjoy slipping into the shadows to follow the footsteps of the suspects.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By kevnm VINE VOICE on February 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Told in the nail-biting style of a great caper flick, Flawless takes the reader inside the world of professional jewel thieves and recreates the biggest diamond heist in history. From Turin, Italy to Antwerp, Belgium, we see the design, planning and execution of a complex theft through the eyes of the crooks, the police and the diamond community. Full of relevant history and information about the diamond trade, the story is peopled by Italian crooks, American reporters, Hasidic Jews, honest cops, inept guards and accidental witnesses. I'm not sure a movie could improve on this fascinating account, but I'd line up to see it. This is non-fiction at its most entertaining - a terrific read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By MelancholyTea on February 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I loved this book - couldn't put it down! The storyline moved along really nicely, and it really drew me in. I found myself wanting to know even more about diamonds and heists - the authors really got me interested in the subject! Better than a news piece on a heist, the authors really went into what the thieves must have been thinking and doing. Not an easy feat, but they pulled it off quite well. I'll be looking for their next book!
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