And before this entry turns into another generic blog review, let me just say that I've just read this book, and it's pretty interesting. I enjoy the occasional foray into non-fiction, and even though this book is well over 60 years old, there are some really entertaining aspects about it.
Maurer was a linguist, looking at the way in which con men spoke. However, in order to explain the lingo, he had to explain the lifestyle - in short, this is the kind of book that really examines a unique subculture. So much so that even if you are not into crime movies/noir at all - you'll get a lot out of it.
And for those who may be curious, here's where you can locate examples of this book's influence in popular culture:
- One of the cons, notably "The Wire", made its way into the screenplay of The Sting;
- The writers of Mission: Impossible used it as a template for episodes in the show's first three seasons
- Most of the plots in the first two seasons of the BBC show Hustle take their cue from this book
- I'll even go so far as to say that the George Clooney Ocean's Eleven and the season three Mad Men series finale have aspects of this book integrated into their plots.
I'm even willing to write it.
It's a pretty breezy read - I managed to finish it in three days (via commutes to and from work), and was really enthralled