They grew more skilled as the years passed, devising ruses more intricate than the last, including staging scenes with props and sets, and scripting dialogue. Yet con men shared information only through what might be called oral tradition. Enter a professor of linguistics. Maurer first published this book, long out of print, in , when he could see the dynamics of this kind of crime rapidly changing and the world of the original con man fading He embraced that world and devoured its schemes, its nuances and its language. Businessmen traveled on ships and trains for days and stayed in strange cities for weeks at a time waiting for the deal to close, becoming marks the victims scooped up by ropers the scouts who brought victims in. As proof of their talent, con men sought out big game: the entrepreneurial veteran, the crafty wannabe and the successful risk taker.

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June 24, Issue Now reprinted after a shamefully long hiatus, The Big Con by David Maurer is, like its subjects, crowned with many hats. Its origins are in linguistics; it is nominally a work of criminology; it has blood ties to folklore; it falls within the scope of Americana; it serves up a parcel of social history; and of course it is a robust and spring-heeled piece of literature.

Swindling is a literary subject that must go back to Egyptian and Mesopotamian antecedents, certainly to Reynard the Fox by way of the Elizabethan coney-catchers and the Spanish picaresque. In American culture it looms as one of the major themes, along with self-invention and going on the lam, which are not unrelated.

Edgar Allan Poe put it conclusively: A crow thieves; a fox cheats; a weasel outwits; a man diddles. To diddle is his destiny. But not so:—he was made to diddle. This is his aim—his object—his end. David Maurer was a linguist, eventually professor emeritus of linguistics at the University of Louisville.

He was one of the editors of H. His correspondents included fellow language addicts such as S. Perelman, and an enormous number of denizens of the underworld, both behind bars and at large. Maurer, as this book will amply demonstrate, earned the intimate confidence of many vulnerable and closemouthed miscreants, people who would not have opened up to journalists. Choose a Print, Digital, or All Access subscription. If you are already a subscriber, please be sure you are logged in to your nybooks.

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The Big Con

Shelves: politics , , general-history , economics , american-history , nonfiction , religion-or-not , bad-things This a classic book was written shortly after the first golden age of the con artist in we currently live in the second golden age of that particular "art of the deal". Talks about some of the great long cons and some easy short cons like three-card monte. The elements that go into a con with ropers and shills and stores to pull off the long con while individuals by themselves can pull off smaller short cons. This is wrong on two counts honest people can be victimized by the conman and it blames the victim in that way. While many roped into a con are greedy or dishonest not everyone is.

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David W. Maurer

The author of the book: David W. 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. Quite simply, "freedom involving speech" Many of us wholeheartedly helped. Your own opinions to book Big Con - additional audience can determine in regards to a publication. This sort of assistance will make us all far more U. David W.


The Big Con: The Story of the Confidence Man



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