Fakes, Forgers and Thieves!

Are you curious about the psychology of people who try to get away with things?  One of the most intriguing categories of books we have tells the stories of people whose egos and obsessions drive them to attempts to trick experts, lie and steal, or outwit the Vegas casinos.  Only a few of them succeed.  If you enjoy psychological nonfiction (and a little fiction, too), take a look!

Caveat Emptor:  The Secret Life of an American Art Forger, by Ken Perenyi  caveatemptor
This book reads like a confessional conversation with a talented artist who slips into increasingly delusional behavior as he forges artworks and sells them as originals.  The FBI is on his trail, and his life and lies become increasingly complicated.  Sue recommends this book not for the writing, but as a study of self-deception.  (Cover image:  GoodReads)

Busting Vegas:  The MIT Whiz Kid Who Brought the Casinos To Their Knees, by Ben Mezrich
The novel “reveals how Semyon Dukach uses his mathematical skills to create a system that beat the casinos, earning him millions of dollars in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Aruba, London, and Monte Carlo.”  It’s a fascinating, weird, and true story.

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much, by Allison Bartlett
As someone who has spent thousands of hours prowling around used bookstores and antiquarian shops, I found the story of John Gilkey’s obsession a quirky and fascinating glimpse into the specialized world of booksellers.  What could motivate him, you ask?  This book is filled with odd characters, strange, furtive behaviors, and a galloping literary detective plot.  Hear from the author about her book:

The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak
Trying to make sense of the horrors of World War II, Death relates the story of Liesel–a young German girl whose book-stealing and story-telling talents help sustain her family and the Jewish man they are hiding, as well as their neighbors.

Headhunters, by Jo Nesbøheadhunters
“Roger Brown is a corporate headhunter, and he’s a master of his profession. But one career simply can’t support his luxurious lifestyle and his wife’s fledgling art gallery. At an art opening one night he meets Clas Greve, who is not only the perfect candidate for a major CEO job, but also, perhaps, the answer to his financial woes.” (text and cover image: GoodReads)

Provenance:  How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art, by Laney Salisbury
Provides an account of the art forgery scheme perpetrated by John Drewe and artist John Myatt in the late twentieth century, explaining how Drewe was able to establish provenance for the paintings done by Myatt, who did not realize initially that Drewe was passing his work off as real, and discussing the repercussions of the fraud on the art world.

My Life as a Fake, by Peter Carey
Sarah Wode-Douglass, the editor of a London poetry magazine, accompanies the famous and infamous John Slater on a trip to Malaysia, hoping to find out how he destroyed her parents’ marriage, but instead finds herself drawn into a dangerous mystery abroad.


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