In 1919, Texas rancher J. Frank Norfleet lost everything he had in a stock market swindle. He did what many other marks did - he went home, borrowed more money from his family, and returned for another round of swindling.
Only after he lost that second fortune did he reclaim control of his story. Instead of crawling back home in shame, he vowed to hunt down the five men who had conned him. Armed with a revolver and a suitcase full of disguises, Norfleet crisscrossed the country from Texas to Florida to California to Colorado, posing as a country hick and allowing himself to be ensnared by confidence men again and again to gather evidence on his enemies. Within four years, Frank Norfleet had become nationally famous for his quest to out-con the con men.
Through Norfleet's ingenious reverse-swindle, Amy Reading reveals the mechanics behind the scenes of the big con - a piece of performance art targeted to the most vulnerable points of human nature. Reading shows how the big con has been woven throughout U.S. history. From the colonies to the railroads and the Chicago Board of Trade, America has always been a speculative enterprise, and bunco men and bankers alike have always understood that the common man was perfectly willing to engage in minor fraud to get a piece of the expanding stock market - a trait that made him infinitely gullible.
Amy Reading's fascinating account of con artistry in America and Frank Norfleet's wild caper invites you into the crooked history of a nation on the hustle, constantly feeding the hunger and the hope of the mark inside.
©2012 Amy Reading (P)2012 Random House Audio
"Most scholarship reads like a trip to the dentist. The Mark Inside reads like a trip to the track." (David Mamet, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Glengarry Glen Ross and House of Games
This is a very interesting story, but could have been dispatched in a long magazine article (e.g., New Yorker or Atlantic) rather than in a full-fledged book. If you are willing to tolerate wading through all these interesting facts, then the book could be to your liking. If you are, like me, sometimes impatient with extraneous material with little to do with the plot line, you may find it hard going.
The narrator was very good.
If you have ever been conned or have almost been conned like me, you will find this more than interesting. While I have been basically aware of the main ingredient of a con, that is to “promise you something you don’t deserve”. I was surprised by the inventiveness and dept of the story here told.
The author has done a great job of explaining the history of the con.
I'm a bear that likes honey, climbing trees, stealing picnic baskets and listening to audiobooks.
This book begins with a ton of promise, but then the author tries to have it both ways by asking us to suspend our disbelief while continuing to read the text as non-fiction.
I think that if she had waited until later in the text to ask us to make that suspension of disbelief, it might have been a more compelling read. Why not let us get caught up in the adventure?
Love his voice and his matter of fact delivery. Tough like the old west, and perfect for the story.
There's a great book in here somewhere, I am just wondering if the structure works against the story.
an interesting history of confidence men at the turn of the last century but especially interesting for what it says about police corruption back in the day...
This book is a lot of fun. The central character, a real man who got involved in some really outlandish and dangerous situations, is like someone from a movie. In fact if, like me, you love the movie The Sting, this is a must-listen. The narrator is especially well-cast, and makes even the duller moments engaging. But there aren't a lot of dull moments.
Occasionally I would think that some event presented as fact was just too outlandish to be true, that we only had the man's word for how it happened. To her credit, the author usually points this out, often with a funny or wry comment. Other times, against all probability, she provides additional evidence that some wild event really did happen, an independent witness or article.
If you've any interest in con artists or complicated true tales of vigilante justice, this is a perfect choice.
Because I selected this book for the subject matter and not for any terrific reviews that were written about it, I wasn't really expecting much. But this is a wonderful piece of work!
Ms. Reading is a superb researcher and a very gifted writer. I hope she's got something new in the works.
And the narration is among the best I've heard in 30 years of listened to narrated books of various kinds.
My preference for a good story is something totally unusual and not run of the mill stuff. Give me something I haven't heard before.
Loved it. It's amazing what happens to one's self made beliefs in life once it is punctured by thieves. One's core beliefs become anything but a mere shadow of their former selves in the pursuit of correcting the wrong. The years of dedication to finding these guys, right down to the very last guy, what the pursuit cost him and his family to find them all and what he had to learn along the way, especially that practically no man can be trusted - what an adventure.
At first, I thought this book to be average. But, like a good song it rambles about your brain until you get it. I felt a need to listen to various chapters again and then the excellence of this book sunk in. This book was really well written with great insight and a lot of very subltle tongue-in-cheek when it was called for. If you read about Ponzi thus book fits in very well.
smiled- quite often
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