Maurer, David The Big Con

ISBN 13: 9780099409991

The Big Con

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9780099409991: The Big Con

'Of all the gifters, the confidence man is the aristocrat, ' wrote David Maurer, a proposition he definitively proved in The Big Con. A professor of linguistics who specialised in underworld argot, Maurer won the trust of hundreds of swindlers. They let him in on not simply their language, but their folkwrys and the astonishingly complex and elaborate schemes whereby unsuspecting marks, hooked by their own greed and dishonesty were 'taken off' - i. e. , cheated - of thousands upon thousands of dollars. The products of amazing ingenuity, crack timing and attention to every last detail, these 'big cons', as thoroughly scripted and rehearsed as any Hollywood production, richly deserve Maurer's description as 'the most effective swindling device which man has ever invented. ' The Big Con is a treasure trove of American lingo (the write, the rag, the pay-off, ropers, shills, the cold poke and the convincer) and indeliable characters (Yellow Kid Weil, Barney the Patch, the Seldom-Seen Kid, Limehouse Chappie and Larry the Lug). First published in 1940, The Big Con makes compelling reading whilst being the most authentic and utterly authoritative study on the con artist and his game.

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Review:

"To study the lingo of the con is inevitably to study the con itself", writes Luc Sante in his foreword to this classic work of urban anthropology, originally published in 1940. "A term such as cackle-bladder or shut-out cannot be properly described without giving a full account of its use, and such an account cannot be illustrated by stick figures". Thus The Big Con is filled with richly detailed anecdotes populated by characters with names like Devil's Island Eddie, the Honey Grove Kid, the Hashhouse Kid, and Limehouse Chappie ("distinguished British con man working both sides of the Atlantic and the steamship lines between, all with equal ease"). David Maurer spent years talking to con men about their profession, learning about each and every step of the three big cons (the wire, the rag, and the payoff). From putting the mark up to putting in the fix, Maurer guides readers through the fleecing--pretty soon you'll be forgetting the book's scientific value and reading for sheer entertainment. (A cackle-bladder, by the way, is a fake murder used to scare the victim off after his money's been taken. As for the shut-out, well, that you'll have to learn on your own.)-- Ron Hogan

From the Back Cover:

Once upon a time, they could be found in every hotel lobby, on every cruise liner, in every Pullman car. They were looking for the rich, the greedy and the vain.

They were the master criminals and the greatest actors of their age. They played their lines to perfection, enlisting hundreds of extras to lull their marks: their sets were elaborately constructed betting shops or dealing rooms, their plot the subtle mechanics of the wire, the pay-off and the rag. They fleeced their victims of millions with audacious sleights of hand.

This is the story of that aristocracy of crime: of the great con men such as Charley Gondorff, the Yellow Kid Weil, Limehouse Chappie, the High Ass Kid, Slobbering Bob and Fred the Florist.

The Big Con is the classic account of the method of the con man and the con trick and its unique language. It brings back the lost epoch of the first part of this century; its danger, glamour and twisted morality.

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MAURER,D W.
Published by Transworld Unknown (2000)
ISBN 10: 0099409992 ISBN 13: 9780099409991
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David W. Maurer
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