The Big Con: The Story of the Confidence Man

The Big Con:

The Story of the Confidence Man

by David W. Maurer

Introduction by Luc Sante

Anchor Books, 320 pp., $12.95 (paper)

Ever feel like quitting that nine-to-five and opening "The Big Store?" Actually, you'd be better off not doing so unless you have at least 30 or 40 similarly minded friends. The Big Con is Maurer's 1940 study of the world of the con, its lingo, and its denizens. The book suggests more than a few Damon Runyon prototypes, and you will recognize familiar elements from The Grifters. What makes this definitive study so fascinating is that it describes how people allow themselves to be conned, how they let their vanities and obsessions make them easy pickins for the likes of the Waco kid. This book is not only a vital study of a colorful demimonde but a psychological text as well. As you read the accounts of successful cons, it's hard to believe that anyone could be gullible enough to fall for such antics. But your disdain for the easily led is exactly what a good con connives to use against you. Be warned.

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The Big Con: The Story of the Confidence Man, David W. Maurer, Luc Sante

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