The Sting Man is the amazing inside story of Mel Weinberg, one of the most fascinating fast-buck operators to ever live, and the incredible scandals he masterminded. Hustling his way from the streets of the Bronx to hawking bogus businesses around the world, Weinberg netted millions and famously dreamed up Abscam - the infamous FBI-run sting operation of the late 1970s that would bag seven congressmen and one U.S. senator.
I bought this book because I love Mr. Ballerini's work, not realizing that the book itself is nothing more than a recital of the many scams worked by the villain/protagonist of the piece, Mel Weinberg. Weinberg was a psychopath who hustled millions of dollars from all kinds of people, from individuals just looking for loans to large corporations wanting a variety of services that Mr. Weinberg promised he could do for them. All of these people were cheated by Weinberg. There is no plot to the book at all. It is just a recitation of the cons worked by Weinberg. He pretended to own European banks which could lend money at below-market rates. He flew on corporate jets because he had conned the corporations. He hit small victims and big victims. He hit inventors who wanted financing for their inventions. The only time I laughed was when Mr. Ballerini mentioned an inventor who wanted to patent "a giant magnet which could be used to pick up skyscrapers and move them from one city to another. This, however, is small pickings. I cared absolutely nothing about Mr. Weinberg: there is nothing sympathetic or likable about him. I still love Mr. Ballerini's work, but, you know, silk purse and sow's ear, however that goes. Don't waste your money or your time. Spend some time on a book with interesting, sympathetic characters and a great narrator like Mr. Ballerini. There are so many great books available that I won't even mention them, except for plugging just a few of my absolute favorites: Polar Star, by Martin Cruz Smith, read by the late, incomparable Frank Muller. The Ice Limit, by those two guys, Preston and Childs, read by Scott Brick. The Testament, by John Grisham and read by Mr. Muller. Shantaram, whose author and narrator I have forgotten, forgive me, but this is a tour of India which will captivate and charm you. Et alia. Thanks for your attention.
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