41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
Some Very Good Info Smothered With Some Very Bad Storytelling,
This review is from: How to Cheat at Everything: A Con Man Reveals the Secrets of the Esoteric Trade of Cheating, Scams, and Hustles (Paperback)
If the cons had just been spelled out for us the way John Scarne would have spelled them out, I'd have given this book four stars at a minimum and possibly five. However, the cons are condescendingly told through the annoying fictional persona of "Freddy the Fox," who is 73, lives in NYC with his cat Boris and his ferret Armageddon, speaks seven languages fluently, is learning Japanese, and so on. These Freddy stories, which are not amusing or useful in any way, add nothing to the book but length and make it twice as long as it should be. By the time you get to the end of the book, should you make it that far without tearing your hair out, you're told (as if you needed to be) that Freddy is a creation based on several people, and you're left wondering how the author could have possibly thought he picked anything but the most annoying way possible to explain things.
The book wastes very little time getting on the reader's nerves, even before the author introduces us to Freddy the Fake. Indeed, on page xxv we're screamed at at twice, in caps, to buy the book without browsing any further. "Don't read any more, BUY IT NOW!" It was that and the next two equally annoying sentences that motivated me to wait until it was available in the local library and not buy it at all.
Once I checked the book out from the library, I was repeatedly reminded what a good decision it was not to buy it. While the info in the book is superb when you can find it, there's so much useless fictional Freddy schlock one has to read just to get to the useful parts that I was quick to understand why they didn't want you to read past the introduction before buying it.
Never before have I seen a book with so much useful and interesting information that was such an agonizing chore to read. I give it 4.5 stars for the information within, I subtract three stars for the annoying writing, and round up from the remaining 1.5 stars to two for my rating. If the author had even the slightest idea how much I hated all the Freddy-related drivel, he'd know how charitable I'm being with a two-star rating. The book has the feel of a condescending adult trying to tell you about Santa Claus, Tooth Fairy or Easter Bunny ten years after you've figured out the truth, so do yourself a favor: take notes throughout your first read so that you don't have to subject yourself to the book a second time.