The Con Men by Terry Williams
Hustling in New York City (Studies in Transgression)

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Bold and illuminating, the book is a reminder that no matter how poor or rich people may be, greed—and therefore the capacity to cheat others for our own gain—“is embedded in our social DNA.” A thoroughly researched academic study accessible to general readers.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

This vivid account of hustling in New York City explores the sociological reasons why con artists play their game and the psychological tricks they use to win it. Terry Williams and Trevor B. Milton, two prominent sociologists and ethnographers, spent years with New York con artists to uncover their secrets. The result is an unprecedented view into how con games operate, whether in back alleys and side streets or in police precincts and Wall Street boiler rooms.

Whether it's selling bootleg goods, playing the numbers, squatting rent-free, scamming tourists with bogus stories, selling knockoffs on Canal Street, or crafting Ponzi schemes, con artists use verbal persuasion, physical misdirection, and sheer charm to convince others to do what they want. Williams and Milton examine this act of performance art and find meaning in its methods to exact bounty from unsuspecting tourists and ordinary New Yorkers alike. Through their sophisticated exploration of the personal experiences and influences that create a successful hustler, they build a portrait of unusual emotional and psychological depth. Their work also offers a new take on structure and opportunity, showing how the city's unique urban and social architecture lends itself to the perfect con.

 

About Terry Williams

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Sociologist Terry Williams, Ph.D., coauthor of Growing Up Poor, is the joint recipient of a MacArthur foundation grant to study the culture of housing projects. The completion of The Cocaine Kids was accomplished during Williams’s appointment at the Conservation of Human Resources at Columbia University.
 
Published November 10, 2015 by Columbia University Press. 290 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, Crime. Non-fiction
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on Sep 01 2015

Bold and illuminating, the book is a reminder that no matter how poor or rich people may be, greed—and therefore the capacity to cheat others for our own gain—“is embedded in our social DNA.” A thoroughly researched academic study accessible to general readers.

Read Full Review of The Con Men: Hustling in New ... | See more reviews from Kirkus

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