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The Irresistible Con: The Bizarre Life of a Fraudulent Genius [Paperback]

Francis Wheen
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 April 2004
His names were crazy enough - Baron Hajdu, Carl Rodgers, Mr Carl, Michael Karoly. And his jobs - receptionist, hypnotherapist, businessman, rentier, journalist and sex worker. But he was always careful to cover his tracks, so no-one suspected a thing when in 1971 a curious new figure appeared on the London academic scene. Her name was Charlotte Bach, and she was a broad-shouldered mammoth of a woman, with a deep voice and a heavy Central European accent. She was a former lecturer at the University of Budapest, and had a new theory of sex and evolution which was soon being heralded as one of the greatest intellectual advances of the 20th century.

Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Short Books Ltd (1 April 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1904095747
  • ISBN-13: 978-1904095743
  • Product Dimensions: 19.9 x 13.3 x 1.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,083,488 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good fun 30 Nov 2010
Not greatly detailed, but a fascinating and enjoyable read nonetheless telling the tale of the extraordinary Charlotte Bach - and the people s/he fooled.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic life 1 Jun 2013
By Eleanor TOP 500 REVIEWER
I picked this book up on a whim and read it in nearly one sitting. Wheen sets the scene by describing how in the seventies a woman called Charlotte Bach persuaded Colin Wilson, among others, that she had formulated a theory of human evolutionary development which would rival the thinking of Darwin and Einstein and put her in the running for a Nobel prize. Personally, her ideas sound completely bonkers but her writings (typed all in capitals on hundreds of pages of orange paper) and lectures captivated many. It was only after her death that Bach's secret was revealed and prompted the recipient of her papers to investigate her past.

After this intriguing first chapter, Wheen starts with Bach's childhood as a boy in Hungary. From there we follow Karoly Hajdu (as he was then) through several changes of name, profession, and identity. To say more would spoil the many revelations dotted throughout the book but Wheen paints a colourful picture of what sounds like a rather unpleasant person. The reader is also sent back in time to post-war England, the Rachmanism of fifties London, and the intellectual milieu of seventies Hampstead. An added highlight is the glorious full-page colour photos of Hajdu experimenting with various female identities against the backdrop of a typical sixties flat.

NB: this book was first published in hardback with the title Who Was Dr. Charlotte Bach?
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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Pointless 29 Jan 2009
I usually like Francis Wheen - Mumbo Jumbo and the Marx biography. This is the story of a fraudulant trans-sexual and nothing more. Even the lies aren't very interesting.
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