Wall Street Journal: Five Best Books on Con Men

In The Wall Street Journal on October 20, 2017, author and columnist Anne Applebaum lists the “five best books on con men.” Number one on her  list is The Way We Live Now (1875) by Anthony Trollope:

1. ’No one pretends to think that he is a gentleman. . . . But because he has learned the art of making money, we not only put up with him, but settle upon his carcass as so many birds of prey.” Thus does the upright Roger Carbury dismiss the notion of a marriage between his feckless cousin and the unimaginably wealthy daughter of Melmotte, the mountebank around whom this novel circulates. But no one listens to him: Larger than life, vaguely foreign, with horses, carriages, palatial residences and too much money to count, Melmotte is a man of the “City,” London’s financial markets, and thus a figure of envy and scorn among the harder-up members of the British aristocracy. He’s also one of the first truly modern fictional con men: An outsider who outsmarts the insiders, a “new man” who runs rings round the old elite. This is still the Victorian era so Melmotte ends badly, but not before demonstrating that much of the London establishment is just as hypocritical and false as himself.

(Read the full article.)

Posted on: October 25th, 2017 by Douglas Gerlach

Leave a Reply