The Big Con: The Story of Confidence Men
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This book has 1 recommendation
Ryan Holiday (Founder/Brass Check)It probably seems weird to recommend books on pickup artists, pick pockets and con men (nor am I necessarily equating the three groups) but it fits. Though I would accept that most of what these guys do is tactical rather than strategic–they are still quite excellent at identifying opportunities and weaving such flawless, enveloping plans that the marks often have no idea that anything is actually occurring. A favorite con example is the one where the con man sets up a fake boxing match that he agrees to “fix” with his mark. Taking the marks money, he then fakes the fake boxing match so that it appears that one boxers kills the other in the ring. He and the mark then flee the scene in opposite direction to avoid the police–the mark thinking he got away with murder, when really he was robbed. The Game is about seduction, literally, but the other two books are about seduction in their own way as well. These books are all classics and will help you, no matter what you do.
The classic 1940 study of con men and con games that Luc Sante in Salon called “a bonanza of wild but credible stories, told concisely with deadpan humor, as sly and rich in atmosphere as anything this side of Mark Twain.”
“Of all the grifters, the confidence man is the aristocrat,” wrote David Maurer, a proposition he definitely proved in The Big Con, one of the most colorful, well-researched, and entertaining works of criminology ever written. A professor of linguistics who specialized in underworld argot, Maurer won the trust of hundreds of swindlers, who let him in on not simply their language but their folkways and the astonishingly complex and elaborate schemes whereby unsuspecting marks, hooked by their own greed and dishonesty, were “taken off” – i.e. cheated—of thousands upon thousands of dollars.
The Big Con is a treasure trove of American lingo (the write, the rag, the payoff, ropers, shills, the cold poke, the convincer, to put on the send) and indelible characters (Yellow Kid Weil, Barney the Patch, the Seldom Seen Kid, Limehouse Chappie, Larry the Lug). It served as the source for the Oscar-winning film The Sting.
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