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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astounding!
Saw (and bought) the movie then had to find out what was true and what were Hollywood embellishments... so I quickly ordered the book.
I was absolutely amazed that the real story of Mr. Abagnale's "escapades" were even more cleaver and brazen than in the movie. To think that this kid was able to convince people that he was a pilot for a major airline, a...
Published on Nov. 10 2003 by Jeanine Rhea

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fast,Entertaining Read About a Slimeball
I had seen the movie before reading this book, so I knew the basic story. I was glad to see though,that Mr. Abagnale went right to the good stuff without trying to justify or explain himself. It was interesting that his first con was his father, charging thousands of dollars on a loaned gas card for phony repairs and pocketing the cash, and how seemingly quickly and...
Published on Jan. 4 2004 by Raymond


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astounding!, Nov. 10 2003
This review is from: Catch Me If You Can (Paperback)
Saw (and bought) the movie then had to find out what was true and what were Hollywood embellishments... so I quickly ordered the book.
I was absolutely amazed that the real story of Mr. Abagnale's "escapades" were even more cleaver and brazen than in the movie. To think that this kid was able to convince people that he was a pilot for a major airline, a pediatrician, a lawyer (who actually passed the BAR exam without ever taking even one course in law school!), and a college professor... not to mention the most prolific bum check artist that ever lived!!!
You can read many reviews here that condemn Mr. Abagnale's actions and feel that he glamorizes theft and deception. But even young Abagnale had a sense of morality, albeit a bit skewed. He would not allow himself to swindle the common man or take money from anyone who could not afford the hit.
Upon maturity (and after doing some hard time) he found that he could use his talents and knowledge to help educate and protect the very same companies and institutions from being defrauded by other would-be "Frank Abagnales". There is little doubt that his expertise in this area and his willingness to share his knowledge with them has saved these companies billions of dollars. So if you really think about it, the banks and corporations that he conned actually just paid into a scholarship fund for someone who, down the road, went to work for them! Alas, poor Pan Am paid the bulk of his tuition.
This is a brilliant, brilliant book...I simply could not put it down. It is very well written and extremely entertaining. It is simply incredible that this is not a work of fiction... everything can be verified. The best book I have read in years.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A true and daring story of a teanaged con man, March 9 2003
This review is from: Catch Me If You Can (Paperback)
I've seen the movie and read the book and I enjoyed both. The movie stars Leonardo DiCaprio as the con man of the title being pursued by Tom Hanks as the FBI agent. The book is a true story about a 16 year old New York runaway who leads the FBI and other law enforcement on a 5 year globe trotting escapade of bouncing check, forged payroll checks and life in the fast lane. The author impersonated a Pan American pilot, a pediatric doctor, and an attorney among others. He did this mostly as a teenager who dropped out of high school. Obviously he is not your average drop out, but an intelligent and scheming confidence man. He was more that just a two-bit paper hanger, as he developed techniques using the Federal Routing identification number that had not been used before. After being caught and imprisoned in France, Sweden and United States, Frank Abagnale used his expertise and talents to improve the check banking system, help catch other criminals, work with the FBI, and start his own secure documents corporation. In the back of the book is a question and answer section with the author where he reveals that the movie is 80% accurate. Obvious you can not put a book covering 5 years into a 2+hour movie so some events were altered, and of course some events in the book were omitted from the movie. I give this book my highest recommendation as a fun and enjoyable read. I myself enjoyed all that much more knowing that this is a true story, written by the actual perpetrator, of his exploits as mostly a teenager. Adults as well as teenagers will like this book. This is a an easy read and a fun book to read, I hope you enjoy it as much as me. I'm also planning to read the author's other book, "The Art of the Steal".
Older reades will see some similarities in the true book/movie, "The Great Imposter" which starred Tony Curtis.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Career of a Master Con., Dec 11 2002
By 
tvtv3 "tvtv3" (Sorento, IL United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Catch Me If You Can (Paperback)
CATCH ME IF YOU CAN is the autobiography of master con man, Frank Abagnale. By the time he was 20, he had traveled all over the world; stolen millions of dollars; passed himself off as a Pan Am pilot, a pediatrician, a lawyer, and a sociology professor. Abagnale invented modern fraud and now he works at defunking it.
This book was an excellent read. It was quick, entertaining, informative, and slightly fascinating. The author does seem like a chauvinistic pig at the beginning of the book, but keep in mind he was describing himself as he was: a sixteen year old boy who had no ethic and moral system to adhere.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book and have been recommending it to many of my friends. It's one of the most intriguing autobiographies I've read in years.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wits, Charm and Ego, Feb. 16 2004
This review is from: Catch Me If You Can (Paperback)
I'm conflicted. I saw the movie before reading this book. Having seen the movie, I find objectivity impossible.
Frank Abagnale tells of his adventures living the life of James Bond without the killing, using his wits and charm to get what he wants. It is romanticized, but plausible.
Do I advise you to read the book first so as to avoid the skew of injecting Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio? You know the successful movie. It is hard not to hear DiCaprio's voice while reading Frank's dialogue. Because the movie has such skilled actors and good editing, it comes across tightly and exciting.
Do I instead advise you to watch the movie first because it will be easier to imagine the details of check fraud production? The book is not well-edited, and suffers from mediocre writing, and any help moving it along will help.
The book is less fun than the movie. There is much more to absorb, more details to consider, and more of Abagnale in the story. His ego plays heavily into the text, and this gets old. His story does not end with this book, but additional chapters haven't been included.
How true is it all? Who can say? Some of it is verifiable, but Abagnale was, in many cases, the only one there. He fabricated so much of his existence, knowing when it is the truth and when it is storytelling is impossible. To enjoy the book, the reader must take the author at his word.
The parental drive Frank wants from Carl feels less evident, missing the sensitive looks and words as played in the movie by Hanks and DiCaprio.
In reading other 'how I lived as a criminal' books by cons like Jack 'Murph the Surf' Murphy, I have had to remember writing skill isn't why they are authors. It is proficiency in thievery, conning, or some other great misdeed. The movie fooled me into believing this book would be different. However, just like Murphy, Abagnale is a man whose life is redeemed. The book doesn't cover this.
There is something oddly heroic about a guy who has managed to fool a lot of people just by pretending. While applauding Abagnale's crimes are wrong, his ingenuity is amazing. He was good enough for the government to cut a deal with him. That's Tom Sawyer with more pluck and style. We wish were that smart and suave. This creates morality layers, but a book worth reading and thinking about.
Read "Catch Me If You Can," then see the movie.
Anthony Trendl
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fast,Entertaining Read About a Slimeball, Jan. 4 2004
I had seen the movie before reading this book, so I knew the basic story. I was glad to see though,that Mr. Abagnale went right to the good stuff without trying to justify or explain himself. It was interesting that his first con was his father, charging thousands of dollars on a loaned gas card for phony repairs and pocketing the cash, and how seemingly quickly and easily his father forgave him.
His cons were amazing in their audacity and intelligence. Frank has a very sharp mind, but it soon became apparent that his greatest asset was his charisma. Everyone instantly liked this handsome and personable young man and just wanted to believe his claims. Had he been twice as smart, but half as charming, I doubt he could have pulled off everything he did.
It was easy to enjoy reading about his ripping off of large companies(Pan-Am particularly),hotels and banks, but it became less fun when he began stealing directly from everyday people. Once,lurking around a bank where he had just opened an account, he noticed people often did not put their account number on their deposit slips. Being the enterprising young man that he was, he swiped a few dozen slips and wrote HIS account number in. He then replaced the slips. When he checked his account later, he had over forty thousand dollars in his balance. He made a withdrawal and got out of Dodge.
Another such incident took place in Boston. Amazingly, on the same day he more or less conned his way out of jail, hours before the FBI arrived for him, he decided to rob a bank. Not with a gun, but with a sack and a uniform. He bought a authentic security guard uniform from the supplier, obtained a holster and (fake) gun, went to the bank, put a sign over the night deposit reading; Out of Order,Please Leave Deposit with Officer, and stood in front of it with a sack. He got over sixty thousand dollars deposited in his bag.
This is the one that really got me. He said this money was in small bills, so it's not rich businessmen he's stealing from, it's people who need the money, for rent,food,gas, and their children. And here he is smiling in their faces, patting himself on the back for being clever.
This did catch up to him,however. He eventually was caught in Montpellier,France. He had pulled numerous scams in France and the rest of Europe(all over Earth,actually) and thought to retire. I doubt his retirement would have lasted,but he is caught when one of the innumerable stewardesses he had dallied with recognized him and turned him in.
The penal system in France at that time seems to have been incomprehensibly barbaric. It was so unbelievable that I did some research on the subject to confirm it. I won't go into it here, but Frank spent a very unpleasant six months jailed in France. He was then transferred to the country club prisons of Sweden. The contrast was mind-numbing as to how two countries had such a radically different approach to incarceration. Anyway, this consideration was wasted on Frank. After his term in Sweden he was due to go to Italy, where the prisons were just as bad as in France,if not worse. The Swedish officials asked the American Embassy to revoke his passport,so he could be deported to the US instead.
This led to perhaps his most daring escape. When the plane hit the runway, Frank was in the restroom, pulling out the toilet and shimmying out the bottom of the plane. He ran off the tarmac unnoticed and used the twenty American dollars a kind female Swedish officer had given him for snacks to take a cab out of there.
Once caught in France though, Frank's luck had seemingly run out. He was recaptured,but escaped again. Very cleverly, but he just couldn't evade the authorities forever.
This is where the book ends,rather abruptly. A epilogue where it tells how he was eventually caught for good, served five years in an American penitentiary, and was let out with the understanding that he would henceforth use his powers for good would have been appreciated.
In closing, this book was highly entertaining and you can probably finish it in one day. Don't believe everything you read though. Because I wouldn't doubt that Frank is still pulling a scam of some sort. I hope he didn't make any money off the movie or new editions of this book, but he probably did. Crime can still pay for Frank Abagnale.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Frank W. Abagnale: One Captivating Story From Page One!, Nov. 26 2003
By 
Michael Gordon "Michael Gordon" (Los Angeles, Ca) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Catch Me If You Can (Paperback)
When you start reading Frank W. Abagnale's thrilling autobiography, it is hard to believe the events actually happened. But indeed they did. Typically, an autobiography will contain many slow narratives that are rather dull.
Abagnale is anything but dull. Born with an IQ clearly higher than the average man, he always was focused on getting around the rules--first, with his dad's credit card. It is clear that the beginning stages of his life of crime started when he was able to successfully get away with small infractions such as these. Later, Abagnale would resort to check fraud, and due to the lax restrictions on checks, get away with it. An ample lesson to banks and security experts: always try to think of every possible scenario because someone will exploit the situation.
The fact that he was able to get onto airlines, without paying, and sit in the cockpit is a sign that there have been many loopholes in our national airline security for quite some time. Now, Abagnale is no terrorist, but as the book explains, this still does not excuse the airlines for allowing mistakes of this sort to go through. It shows the incompetence of our bureacracies and that little has been done since this book has come off the press.
Even more ironic, and perhaps most damning to professors in our "higher learning" institutions, is that he was able to be a professor and gain wide recognition from the students. This is an indication that our professors really don't have any special expertise and merely read and paraprase what they are told. This is a damaging book to all those in authority--it a sign that one single individual, with a mission, is able to exploit the weakneseses out of our collective incompetence and stupidity. Yet, of course there is a consequence for the individual who engangse in these acts.
The French apparently have lousy prison systems, a surprise considering their typical weak image. Perhaps that is just hypocritical of our "friends" the French. But, I knew that Sweden's prison system had to be pretty much like a hotel. Look at the country: considering that Sweden is one large welfare state, it made sense that it would extend to the prison suite, too.
There was a lot of thought placed into this book. When reading it, you can almost feel the FBI agents running to finally catch Abagnale. . . and when they do, it's quite ironic how they let him get away--yet again.
I am glad, however, that Abagnale is a productive member of our society and is providing security information to private companies and the federal government. It takes a person who had lived such a life to help us solve today's incredible crimes.
Michael Gordon
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Something is Fishy!, Nov. 21 2003
"Catch Me If You Can" is a surprisingly depressing tale. Due to the relative popularity of the movie, many know the plot: A young high school dropout, Frank Abagnale, far "older", wiser and street smart than his years impersonates a pilot of the dearly departed Pan American Airways. An expert, self -taught identity forger and con man par excellence he uses his fake Pan Am ID as a base to cash millions of dollars in phony checks. He goes on to impersonate a phony pediatrician, fake college professor and pseudo lawyer. I may have left a phony profession out. Whatever it was, Mr. Abegnale is a fraud. If he were a happy go lucky fellow or at least an average but desperate nice guy, a reader could route for or identify with him. But since almost no one has his absurdly high level of cunning and conning, what is there to identify with? He came across as a miserable, unhappy guy, always one step ahead of the law. In the interests of never revealing an ending, all this reviewer can report is that Abegnale is fingered in France by a former flight attendant. Does he repay his debt to several societies around the world? Read "CMIYC" and find out but not on this recommendation. Some guys are just too slick and too quick and too cool for their own good. The main character of "CMIYC" is one of them.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cunning, but oh so clever!, Oct. 11 2003
This review is from: Catch Me If You Can (Paperback)
By now everyone has at least seen the DreamWorks picture or heard of Frank Abagnale, the real fake, but a person would be really missing out if they stopped there. I had seen the movie a few months ago and although it was great (I'm a sucker for charming con men), the book blows it out of the water!
Catch Me if You Can is a captivating book. I honestly could not put it down and ended up losing sleep a few nights ago because I did not want to stop reading it! I know that most people preface their positive reviews of this book with anti-crime speeches, but to tell you the truth, this story made me secretly WANT to be a con artist! Frank Abagnale, Frank Williams (whoever he was that week) was so clever, calm & collected-how can you not want to emulate that persona!
I'm not saying that I'm going to ditch my current identity and live my life on the run, but I am saying that this book is so well written and the story is told so vividly, it was a pleasure to lose myself for a few hours while reading it. I recommend it to anyone who revels in reading about crafty and incredibly bright people.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dissapointing for such an amazing life, June 4 2003
By 
J. Ezrati (California) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Catch Me If You Can (Paperback)
In most cases of book turned movie, the book far outweighs the level of excellence than the movie. In this case, however, the book pales in comparison to the movie. This can be attributed to many things. The most glaringly obvious reason is Mr. Abagnale's sex addiction. While a biography should illustrate what the subjects attitude and personality is, this book went as far as to mention women and sex every other page. By the third page I understood Mr. Abagnale's love and enjoyment of women and by the fourth I was already sick of it. This blantant redundancy certainly detracted from the book as it would in any book. The other issue I had with the book is his unapologetic disregard for authority, laws, and the human race. We are supposed to praise this guy and talk about how great he is? How is that possible when he put so many lives in danger and stole millions of dollars that could have been put to social programs and other venues. I had a tough time cheering for him on the sidelines simply because I do not agree with his mindset. Another problem is that by the 120th page, the book just gets boring. I had a tough time caring at all midway through the book. While it does pick up towards the end. The middle of the book just seems to be the same thing only in a different place. I may be acting overly critical, but someone needs to be since all the other reviews have deemed Mr. Abaganale a hero. Not quite, but he certainly did live an amazing and eventful life. It's not a bad read, just not a great one, which is what I expected.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A real escapade -- but not all my questions were answered, Oct. 26 2003
By 
Victoria A. Grossack (Switzerland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Catch Me If You Can (Paperback)
After seeing the movie, I bought and quickly read the book. I had to discover what parts of the movie were true, and which were made up. And so I discovered what other things the little stinker had done!
Of course you gotta admire him: walking into Pan AM and stealing envelopes -- herding fake stewardesses around Europe -- pretending to be a security guard and thus taking in all that cash -- one clever idea after another. The book is great fun, because it goes far beyond the movie in explaining how he set up the various scams.
What I had hoped to learn, though, but was disappointed not to see, were the answer to a few questions: How does a man like this decide NOT to continue with the scams? The realization that he was hurting people was part of it, but I would have liked to have seen more. And how does a man who was going to bed with so many broads, suddenly change his ways to become a steady husband (assuming he has)? How on earth does he get some woman to trust him?
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Catch Me If You Can
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