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King Con: The Bizarre Adventures of the Jazz Age's Greatest Impostor
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King Con: The Bizarre Adventures of the Jazz Age's Greatest Impostor (Hardback)

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BiographyBiography: generalBiography: historical, political & militaryBiographyTrue storiesTrue crimePhilosophy, Psychology & Social SciencesPopular beliefs & controversial knowledgeHoaxes & deceptions Publisher: Penguin Putnam Inc Publication Date: 03/08/2018 ISBN-13: 9780451495815  Details: Type: Hardback Format: Books
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More books by Paul Willetts

Customer Reviews

For me, Paul Willetts is non-fiction in reverse. Typically, on the rare occasions that find me dipping into works of non-fiction, it’s strictly because of an abiding interest in the subject matter. Books about Robert Mitchum, books about Japanese Snow Monkeys, books about whatever obsessions could stand a bit more obsessing over. With the works of Paul Willetts, though, it’s the other way round -- a complete and total unfamiliarity with the subject matter on my part, but a deep love of his writing, coupled with his considerable merits as a researcher and his overly-keen eye for fascinating subjects. In that sense, he completes a Holy Triad of contemporary UK non-fiction authors sharing space on my shelves alongside Max Décharné and Keiron Pim. With King Con, Willetts introduces the reader to Chief White Elk -- Indian chief, fund raiser, political campaigner, a towering hero of both college football and of The Great War, first class Olympic runner, owner of oil fields, a renowned doctor, and a film star who shared the screen alongside Valentino, Chaplin, and a young John Wayne. Except for the fact that he was none of these things. In reality, he was Edgar Laplante -- a drifter, a grifter, a masterfully manipulative white man, a consummate and pathological liar, a swindler, a sweet-talker, a fraud and a huckster extraordinaire, and undoubtedly one of the greatest con men to ever run a racket. King Con traces our Edgar’s route throughout North America, to England, and from there to France, Brussels and Italy, where he was feted and heralded by the ruling fascist party in a staggering rise to embezzled riches totaling nearly $60 million USD in today’s currency, all the while overindulging in every dark excess offered throughout the Jazz Age. Naiveté and stupidity are not, as some would have it, newer additions to basic human evolution, just as identity theft is not a byproduct of the Digital Age. Paul Willetts’ greatest gift as a writer has always been his ability to transcend the form, and to write non-fiction that reads and engages like novels of the highest order, and always with his own voice shining throughout. Exhaustively researched and painted with all the creativity and light and shading of a master artist, all of his works reward the reader, and King Con is no exception.

- 15/08/2018
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“King Con” by Paul Willetts a masterpiece. The author did an extraordinary job in narrating events and bringing to life the paper trail. I don’t find blood and gore in movies horrific, but the indifference of the perpetrator towards victims is frightening to me. I read a book once about teenage killers and one of them was asked about why he tortured animals. His reply was that animals are “something insignificant.” That is terrifying to me. I can be callous too but not cruel. The con artist in Paul Willetts’ biography just went from one victim to the next. He wasn’t violent but he destroyed lives nevertheless. Completely remorseless. Quite self-destructive too. I guess it's just the thrill of taking risks and certainly that kept me turning the pages. Incarceration is the only option here and even then I hate to house him next to other inmates.

- 11/05/2018
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