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The Napoleon of Crime: The Life and Times of Adam Worth, Master Thief Paperback – Apr 5 2011
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"Fascinating...a brisk, lively, colorful biography of an amazing criminal."
--The New York Times
"Adam Worth, the greatest thief of the 19th century, could have furnished the basis of a great novel...Ben Macintyre has given him a biography that reads like one."
--Los Angeles Times Book Review
A New York Times Notable Book
About the Author
BEN MACINTYRE is a writer-at-large for The Times of London and the bestselling author of A Spy Among Friends, Double Cross, Operation Mincemeat, Agent Zigzag, The Napoleon of Crime, and Forgotten Fatherland, among other books. Macintyre has also written and presented BBC documentaries of the wartime espionage trilogy.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Thanks again Ben Macintyre!
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Adam Worth's career began during the American Civil War, when he faked his own death and deserted. Possessed of high intellignece and great charm, he was able to insinuate himself into the hearts and minds of many criminal associates, both male and female, and quickly became a leader in the underworld not only in the US but also in Europe. A one man Mafia, he had his fingers in many crooked pies while cultivating a persona that allowed him to be accepted as a gentleman in London, Paris, and New York.
This is also the story of William Pinkerton, the celebrated detective who worked for years to bring Worth down and became in some ways his friend and associate. And it is the story of Worth's greatest crime, the theft of the celebrated Gainsborough portrait of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. Worth stole the painting in 1876 and kept it with him the rest of his life, refusing to part with it even when offered clemency for his other crimes in exchange.
Adam Worth is the man upon whom Sir Arthur Conan Doyle based the character of Professor Moriarty, Sherlock Holmes' great enemy. The story of Worth's cunning and bravado, as well as that of Pinkerton and the other law enforcement officials who sought to capture him, is as captivating as any novel.
This time out he tells us about Master Thief Adam Worth, 'the Napoleon of Crime' who gave Sir Arthur Conan Doyle more than a little nudge of inspiration for his Sherlock Holmes's arch villain, Professor Moriartity. Worth, a transplanted American, also gave Scotland Yard a few headaches, and was always a primary person of interest for dang near every other police agency in the U.S., Europe and even a diamond heist in South Africa.
Better still, Macintyre gives us a good glimpse of the crime world of the Victorian era on both sides of the Atlantic, the efforts and reach of the Pinkerton Detective Agency, and the failings and flaws of the criminals themselves who show that while crime does pay their money management skills are few and far between.
This book is surprisingly entertaining and I can only echo the tone of the previous five star reviews. It is well worth a read.
Starting another of your books, Mack and looking forward to it!
Adam Worth himself was a classic "larger than life" character, rising from abject poverty as an antebellum eastern European immigrant, to elitist status in Victorian England, all through ill-gotten wealth, only to have the proverbial chickens come home to roost at long last. Worth's ingenious and daring crimes, his eccentric underworld associates, and, very notably, the equally larger-than-life Pinkertons, in all their storied glory are all presented herein. The book is well sourced, supporting its historical accuracy.
The author has a gift for weaving together history, biography, psychology, and humor in a manner that kept me fascinated from cover to cover.