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The Big Con: The Story of the Confidence Man Paperback – July 20, 1999
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
Particularly interesting are the idiotic repeat victims who, after being conned again and again, keep coming back for more.
Lest you think that the book is of historic interest only, many of the (small-scale) cons described therein are still be practiced today. My local Chicago neighborhood newspaper carries periodic reports of victims of the "pigeon drop" con.
As some people have noted, it can be repetitive, but that's because most "big" cons (those where the con men work in large teams and have established locations) are very similar in essence; only the execution and specifics are different.
I found it to be very interesting, both from a technical perspective on how things were done, as well as a sociological perspective.
The stories in this book are eminently enjoyable, and they really make you wonder what sort of big con games are flourishing across the USA even as we speak.
Written by Professor David Maurer (a professor of linguistics at the University of Louisville from 1937-1972) "The Big Con" was his magnum opus which served as the source of that great Oscar-winning con movie "The Sting".
The language is wonderful and informative, the basis for much of today's crime and con lingo. This book is a great read.
Professor Maurer also wrote "Kentucky Moonshine", "Whiz Mob" (pickpockets), and "Language of the Underworld", all based on his extensive interviews with such real-life personages as the Sanctimonious Kid, Ocean-Liner Al, and Limehouse Chappie. He was also an extensive contributor, co-author or consultant on many definitive books on gambling by Scarne.
I highly recommend all of his books. They give a wonderful portrait of the world of the big (and little) con in the 1920's thru 40's.
At the age of 75, after a horrible auto accident (he came over the top of a hill in his own lane when an idiot passing illegally hit him head-on) that left him terribly disabled and in uncontrolled pain, unable to work, David Maurer took his own life. A sad ending for a great writer.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
While this book provides an interesting historical perspective on con men, I found it a bit repetitive and gave up, halfway through.Published 7 months ago by JLB
An authentic old-timey look at the history of confidence men in the early part of the 20th century.Published 10 months ago by Michael Rebers
This book is marketed as some kind of brilliant classic with captivating writing. It's not that. It does provide an account of an aspect of 20th century American history that I... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Kenneth Pidcock
A fabulous treatment of sophisticated chicanery. Brings "The Sting" to real life.Published 12 months ago by robert m. langer
Suckers and grifters (and their psychology) hasn't changed the last 1000 years so the book is as timely as ever!Published 17 months ago by Ioannis D. Nikolaidis
This book is extremely well written. I did not want it to end. Highly recommended for virtually anybody, but a MUST read for those interested in early 20th century cultural history... Read morePublished 19 months ago by Olaf
If you saw the movie "The Sting" you've seen almost everything in this book. It deals with cons that were being perpetrated on suckers back in the 1930's and 40's- mostly racing... Read morePublished 19 months ago by Stanwyck