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The Napoleon of Crime: The Life and Times of Adam Worth, the Real Moriarty Paperback – 5 Jan 2012

4.1 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: HarperPress; New Ed edition (5 Jan. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006550622
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006550624
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.8 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 91,439 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

‘A good deal more thrilling than most thrillers’
Ruth Rendell, Daily Telegraph

‘A most remarkable and entertaining biography. It is a highly charged thriller, a moving love affair, a dramatic history of the Victorian criminal underworld, a noble tragedy’
Alexander Waugh, Independent on Sunday

‘A well-researched and lively account…Macintyre has an appetite for fact, assiduity and wit’ Asa Briggs, The Times

‘This is a delicious mingling of through research, lyrical storytelling and empathetic crime reporting…a stylish, original, and picturesque story that reads better than the vast bulk of crime books currently in print’ Michael Coren, Literary Review

From the Back Cover

''He is the Napoleon of Crime, Watson. He is the organizer of half that is evil and nearly all that is undetected in this great city. He is a genius, a philosopher, an abstract thinker…''

Adam Worth was the greatest master-criminal of Victorian times. Abjuring violence and gathering the trappings of respectability, he became the ringleader of the largest criminal network in the world and the model for Conan Doyle's evil genius, Professor Moriarty.

Starting out as a professional deserter during the American Civil War, Adam Worth soon made a name for himself in the notorious Bowery district of Manhattan. Embarking on a campaign of bank robbery, forgery and fraud, he moved among the upper classes, emulated them, and robbed them blind. His most audacious coup – the theft of the world's most valuable painting.

'The Napoleon of Crime' is a true account of the Victorian underworld that rivals the most imaginative fiction.

"A well-researched and lively account…Macintyre has an appetite for fact, assiduity, and wit.'
ASA BRIGGS, 'The Times'

"This is a delicious mingling of thorough research, lyrical storytelling and empathetic crime reporting…a stylish, original and picturesque story that reads better that the vast bulk of crime books currently in print."
MICHAEL COREN, 'Literary Review'

"A most remarkable and entertaining biography. It is a highly charged thriller, a moving love affair, a dramatic history of the Victorian criminal underworld, a noble tragedy."
ALEXANDER WAUGH, 'Independent on Sunday'

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
If I am anything to go by, Ben MacIntyre's publishers are on to a good thing in releasing a paperback of this book on the back of the terrific Operation Mincemeat; the first thing I did after finishing that book was to dig out this one, which has been languishing on my reading list for rather too long (in fact since 1997 - how did that happen?!).
And make no mistake about it, those who do read this have a treat in store.
The story is simply fantastic - the story of the man who inspired Conan Doyle to create Moriarty, and who was one of the pioneers of the inventive heist (eg the one in the Red Headed League"); the story of the gentleman crook with a strong moral code and a heart (relatively speaking) of gold; and the story of the two women he loved - the merry Irish Kitty who was his mistress but abandoned him to become a New York society millionairess, and the portrait of Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire, which bore a more than passing resemblence to the lovely Kitty, and who (which?) the great thief stole and kept until his death was in sight.
A friend felt the book was a little "thin". I think I disagree, but I slightly see where he is coming from. It is certainly not short of incident or interest; the story rackets along like a funfair ride, at a great pace, full of events and excitement, and wonderful characters. But one would certainly like to know more about many of the incidents and characters, and the charge of "thin-ness" may have force there. Of course there have to be limits, and too much about the "gang" would unbalance the book; but I did feel that there was a bigger, even better book which could have been written.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Brilliant book. I bought on the back of having read Agent Zig Zag & then Operation Mincemeat.

It rattles along at a fair pace, diverts off into some very interesting areas (& then back to the main topic).

If you are looking for an intelligent holiday read (I had problems in putting it down, which causes problems when you have work to go to in the morning)highly reccomended.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I like the author, but in this instance he wasn't able to really give any great insights into this Master criminal. It may be that because Adam Worth kept his own counsel that he was so successful, but it meant that the information about him mostly came from the FBI files. As a result they only knew about his failures or partial failures as a criminal, and the reader is left with far more questions than answers.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book.

I had previously read 'Agent Zig Zag' by the same author, and found it well-researched and entertaining, and my experience was similar with this book.

The author is able to turn other sources, some of them no doubt quite detailed and dull, into a really fascinating account. In addition, he adds depth and colour, whilst being careful to clearly identify events where there are conflicting views and opinions. He deftly avoids only trusting the accounts that will give the best 'story', and feels worthy of trust as a result, whilst providing an entertaining read which is never dry.

An entertaining and enlightening read.
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Format: Hardcover
An amazing book which would be difficult to believe if it were not a true story.Adam Worth was a man of high intelligence,who used his abilities to further his life in crime. Living in a time of "PC plods",made his chosen career much easier.
Surely I see a film coming!
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By Anne TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 16 July 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am not at all fond of books where the author seems to admire criminal activity and try to make a hero out of the criminal and I am very pleased that this was avoided in this very readable biography of Adam Worth. Worth was a gang leader and bank robber in teh late nineteenth century. He was American and started his career by defrauding the military in the American Civil War. He moved from America to Europe where he became very rich and lived the high life with great enjoyment only to end his "career" in penury. The author doesn't glorify Worth or his exploits and he tells his tale and that of many of his associates showing both the high and the low points.

Worth is not an admirable character, although we can see that he might have been much worse but it is difficult to understand at times why he rose to the top of his "trade". The author describes his exploits but fails to help us understand what exactly it was that Worth did that made him more successful in crime than his compatriots - other than think big. We maybe needed more details of how he planned his crimes and carried them out. The same applies to the Pinkerton men who pursued and tracked him down - how exactly did they do this and why couldn't others do the same ? More detail would have enhanced the book but I still thought that the narrative was clear and informative and written in such a way that it kept me hooked.

Worth's most publicised crime was the theft of the portrait of the Duchess of Devonshire which he stole and then kept hold of for many years. He appeared to have an attraction for the painting which is difficult to grasp.
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