- Paperback: 277 pages
- Publisher: Broadway Books (August 1, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0767905385
- ISBN-13: 978-0767905381
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 756 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #46,573 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Catch Me If You Can: The True Story of a Real Fake Paperback – August 1, 2000
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When this true-crime story first appeared in 1980, it made the New York Times bestseller list within weeks. Two decades later, it's being rereleased in conjunction with a film version produced by DreamWorks. In the space of five years, Frank Abagnale passed $2.5 million in fraudulent checks in every state and 26 foreign countries. He did it by pioneering implausible and brazen scams, such as impersonating a Pan Am pilot (puddle jumping around the world in the cockpit, even taking over the controls). He also played the role of a pediatrician and faked his way into the position of temporary resident supervisor at a hospital in Georgia. Posing as a lawyer, he conned his way into a position in a state attorney general's office, and he taught a semester of college-level sociology with a purloined degree from Columbia University.
The kicker is, he was actually a teenage high school dropout. Now an authority on counterfeiting and secure documents, Abagnale tells of his years of impersonations, swindles, and felonies with humor and the kind of confidence that enabled him to pull off his poseur performances. "Modesty is not one of my virtues. At the time, virtue was not one of my virtues," he writes. In fact, he did it all for his overactive libido--he needed money and status to woo the girls. He also loved a challenge and the ego boost that came with playing important men. What's not disclosed in this highly engaging tale is that Abagnale was released from prison after five years on the condition that he help the government write fraud-prevention programs. So, if you're planning to pick up some tips from this highly detailed manifesto on paperhanging, be warned: this master has already foiled you. --Lesley Reed
"A book that captivates from first page to last."
-West Coast Review of Books
"Whatever the reader may think of his crimes, the reader will wind up chortling with and cheering along the criminal."
"Zingingly told... richly detailed and winning as the devil."
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This warning on the the copyright page of Catch Me if You Can should serve as a warning that this is actually a work of fiction, not "The True Story of a Real Fake." This is a case where the book isn't any better rooted in reality than the movie. Like the Little House books, it's a riveting read--but shouldn't be marketed as non-fiction or biography. Among the duplicities in the book:
- "When Mom finally divorced my father, I elected to live with Dad." In numerous recorded speeches, Frank says that he ran away the instant he found out his parents were getting divorced. Literally, the last time his father saw him was running out of Family Court.
- "Ten minutes before the pilot was to make his landing approach, I rose and strolled back to one of the lavatories and locked myself inside." In his speeches, Frank blames the 'toilet' scene on the movie scriptwriters, claiming he actually escaped through the galley.
- He never mentions (although the movie does) that he went directly from prison to working for the FBI (which he has continued to do to this day). All the stuff about him not being able to get a job due to his criminal record was apparently put in the book to conceal that he was an FBI undercover agent during his early years in the FBI, continuing to impersonate and con people, but this time with the government's aid and approval.
I found the movie very enjoyable, and decided to buy the book (c1980). I wanted to read the true story upon which the film was based. (On the cover of my copy of the book are the words "The true story of a real fake.") Having seen the interview I just described, I was shocked to read the following on page 8: "When Mom finally divorced my father, I elected to live with Dad. Mom wasn't too keen on my decision, but I felt Dad needed one of us, that he shouldn't have to live alone, and I persuaded her." Abagnale goes on to describe experiences related to living with (and conning) his father after the divorce.
While the book is very interesting, this glaring contradiction leaves me uncertain as to what is true about Abagnale's story and what is made up.
Most recent customer reviews
So interesting his life and amazing all the scheme’s he came up with ...
Highly recommended read