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The Big Con: The Story of the Confidence Man Paperback – July 20, 1999
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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.
Maurer's well-written book begins with an overview that describes the best cons as combining intelligence, broad general knowledge, acting ability, and improvisational skills. A 'short con' involves taking the pigeon for all the money he has on his person, while the 'big con' sends him home to get more. All con games employ the victim's greed as a lever. In all of them the mark is induced to participate in an extralegal money-making machine that requires and investment. The cruder mechanisms are simple bait-and-switch devices; in the most sophisticated the victim may never realize he's been bilked, merely registering the outcome as a failed gamble.
The con game always has at least a 'roper' and the 'inside man' who bounce the victim between them. The high and elegant style of the big con described in this book as decline, perhaps disappeared, due to changing technology. Communications are now faster and more widely available. Relatively few good con men are ever brought to trail - the victim must virtually admit criminal intentions himself to prosecute, and about 90% never do. Of those con men who are tried, few are convicted.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
OK, this book was written in 1940, yet it is still a marvelous read. It's was basis for the movie Sting, you know Newmand and Redford. Read morePublished 2 months ago by R Michael R
This is a wonderful and one-of-a-kind classic on the history of consumer and business frauds and swindles. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Aspame
Excellent history of conning in the first half of the 20th century. Entertaining and well written. Maybe a little bit outdated, but still fascinating.Published 3 months ago by I. B.
After the first several chapters, didn't really say anything new.Published 3 months ago by Fedoradude
While this book provides an interesting historical perspective on con men, I found it a bit repetitive and gave up, halfway through.Published 13 months ago by JLB
An authentic old-timey look at the history of confidence men in the early part of the 20th century.Published 15 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 16 months ago by Kenneth Pidcock
A fabulous treatment of sophisticated chicanery. Brings "The Sting" to real life.Published 17 months ago by robert m. langer