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The Napoleon of Crime: The Life and Times of Adam Worth, Master Thief Paperback – Apr 5 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; Reprint edition (April 5 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307886468
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307886460
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2.3 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 386 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #142,664 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"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.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Like all of the author's books - it was almost impossible to put this book down and I was sorry when I'd finished it! Although the author gives very detailed explanations about the subject matter, reading it on an iPad was helpful because many of the people and things mentioned in the book lead to further happy reading on the Internet. The relationship between Pinkerton and Worth was well presented and if anyone thinks that sort of relationship is strange or impossible I can tell you from experience that it happens.
Thanks again Ben Macintyre!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa13fd9b4) out of 5 stars 56 reviews
41 of 41 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0d6d0cc) out of 5 stars The Real Moriarty April 26 2011
By John D. Cofield - Published on
Format: Paperback
Ben Macintyre can always be counted on to tell a fascinating story, and he is in his element here with this history of the notorious 19th century criminal Adam Worth. If a novelist made up Adam Worth's story he or she would be criticized for having too vivid an imagination that conjured up too many implausible scenarios.

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.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0b9115c) out of 5 stars The Vaue of Worth Aug. 10 2011
By Writetrak - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ben MacIntyre is quickly becoming one of my favorites authors. His penchant for writing about real life interesting characters with great research and storytelling catapults him far ahead of the writing herd.
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!
29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa16d7f60) out of 5 stars The Prose Fails The Real-LIfe Events Sept. 17 2011
By Lungbarrow - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I had high hopes for this one, maybe too high. I can't put my finger on it exactly but for some reason this book was kind of a slog. This is unusual because I am an avid reader of historical non-fiction. I routinely read presidential biographies that covered less exciting subjects but flowed and electrified me. I think it all comes down to the prose and the pacing. The book is awkwardly constructed and does not flow well. It feels like a abridgment of a longer better book. This was an early effort by an author who has received great acclaim for his more recent books. This books shows authorial promise but lets down its subject matter.I suggest his more recent work if you haven't read it.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa131ca08) out of 5 stars Ben MacIntyre = The Napoleon of Storytellers Aug. 10 2012
By GirlScoutDad - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the 2nd Ben MacIntyre book I've read and I intend to continue reading the rest of his books. He has a knack for finding great stories, then telling them brilliantly, in a manner that is both fast-paced, yet also rich in historical detail. Oh, and he has a fine ironic, comic lens as well (as, for example, when he describes Adam Worth's manservant and hoodlum bodyguard, John "Junka" Phillips, as a man of such gargantuan proportions that "his mother had obviously mated with a grizzly bear").

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.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0dfad98) out of 5 stars GREAT AND A VERY ENTERTAINING BOOK Nov. 24 2013
By EMBLA - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
I read this book when it came out many in the late 1990'. The author stumbled up on this story in the Los Angeles library archives. I enjoyed it a lot. Adam Worth was a thief of no ordinary magnitude. His thievery spans over countries and continents and brings you into his fascinating life and the strange hunt of the Pinkertons brothers after him. I was completely mesmerized while reading this story. If you like "Devil in the White City" you will likely enjoy this book. I have always thought that this book was highly underestimated and has not gotten the attention it's worth. It's a time well spent reading this book.