Synopses & Reviews
From the New York Times bestselling author of Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes,
a compelling investigation into the minds, motives, and methods of con
artists—and the people who fall for their cons over and over again
While cheats and swindlers may be a dime a dozen, true conmen — the
Bernie Madoffs, the Jim Bakkers, the Lance Armstrongs — are elegant,
outsized personalities, artists of persuasion and exploiters of trust.
How do they do it? Why are they successful? And what keeps us falling
for it, over and over again? These are the questions that journalist and
psychologist Maria Konnikova tackles in her mesmerizing new book.
From multimillion-dollar Ponzi schemes to small-time frauds, Konnikova
pulls together a selection of fascinating stories to demonstrate what
all cons share in common, drawing on scientific, dramatic, and
psychological perspectives. Insightful and gripping, the book brings
readers into the world of the con, examining the relationship between
artist and victim. The Confidence Game asks not only why we
believe con artists, but also examines the very act of believing and how
our sense of truth can be manipulated by those around us.
Konnikova (Mastermind) opens a door to the fascinating world of truly brilliant con artists—not the quotidian hustlers but the Madoffs of the world. She asks whether they are psychopaths epic narcissists or just regular Joes with extraordinary confidence and a skill for telling a good story. Konnikova provides a fascinating glimpse into the lives of some of recent history’s smoothest talkers covering the setups and executions of some of their extraordinary scams. From consumer fraud and online scams to complex multiyear grifts and bald faced lies readers are reminded that these scams could happen to anyone and are far more common than is commonly realized—no one after all wants to admit to having been duped. As for why people fall for these cons Konnikova shows that it’s because humans want to believe great stories and don’t necessarily recognize the fine line between a legitimate story and an illegitimate one. Told with vigor and enthusiasm this study of the psychology of the con artist is riveting and cleverly told. Agent: Seth Fishman Gernert Company. (Jan.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
“I really love Maria Konnikova’s writing. In a world of pseudoscience—of
extreme polemical thought—her calm rationality is comforting and smart.
I appreciate and believe her.” Jon Ronson, author of So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed
“The story of the con artist may be unmatched for combining human
interest with insight into human nature, and star psychology writer
Maria Konnikova explains their wiles to us with her characteristic
clarity, flair, and depth.” Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of How the Mind Works and The Sense of Style.
“In The Confidence Game, Konnikova plumbs the psychology and chemistry
of why we all fall so readily for scams and cons — and why, thanks to the
“Lake Wobegon Effect” and other forces, having fallen once, we’re even
more susceptible the next time. It’s a startling and disconcerting read
that should make you think twice every time a friend of a friend
offers you the opportunity of a lifetime. But you won’t think twice.
You’ll still succumb, because that’s how we’re all wired. And here’s the
irony — the smarter you think you are, the more readily you’ll fall,
which is why New Yorkers are some of the easiest marks. (Clients of
Bernie Madoff, we’re talking about you.) If you liked Malcolm Gladwell’s
Blink, you’ll love this lucid and revelatory look into our oh-so-susceptible selves.” Erik Larson, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dead Wake and bestselling author of Devil in the White City
About the Author
Maria Konnikova’s articles have appeared online and in print in the New Yorker, the Atlantic, the New York Times, Slate, the New Republic, the Paris Review, the Wall Street Journal, Salon, the Boston Globe, the Observer, the Scientific American MIND, WIRED, and the Scientific American, among numerous other publications. Maria blogs regularly for the New Yorker and formerly wrote the “Literally Psyched” column for the Scientific American
and the popular psychology blog “Artful Choice” for Big Think. She
graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University, where she studied
psychology, creative writing, and government, and received her Ph.D. in
Psychology from Columbia University.