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

4.7 out of 5 stars 71 customer reviews

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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.
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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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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Union Square Press (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 (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #977,569 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book describes a heist that probably brought the thieves more than $100 million dollars in cash, diamonds and other valuables. Two years were spend planning the theft and the description of this time makes for slow reading. Things speed up as the job is successfully pulled off through a combination of skill, luck and poor security. Much more exciting is the effort to identify and capture the criminals. One curious thing about the story is the authors' willingness to accept the criminals on their own terms as working at a job as any other. No doubt there were less than admirable people who had there safe deposit boxes emptied; but most of the victims were honest people trying to protect there cash and treasured possessions. This point is driven home by one of the few uplifting episodes in the book. The thieves could not take all of their loot, so the vault floor was left littered with valuables. When the victims were asked to identiy their possessions, only two items were claimed by more than one person and some things went unclaimed. The police investigation was vigorous and four thieves went too jail, but none served more than six years and the loot was not recovered. The theft need not have occurred. Technological defences must be supplemented by alert people and technology must be updated. The people here were complacent and a locksmith had warned that the safe deposit boxes had a flaw and should be upgraded. Unfortunately, only the few that required replacement were upgraded. When the thieves used their special "tool" on one of these safe deposits boxes, it broke.
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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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