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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What can Titanic Thompson teach you?
I'm not sure where to start with this review - there was so much about this book I liked.

I'd never heard of Titanic Thompson before - and as with all men of legend, it's hard to separate fact from fiction and tell man from myth. Over the years, stories get told and retold, grow and take on a life of their own. Certainly though, this all adds to the mystique of...
Published on 20 Jan 2011 by The Truth

versus
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars tall tales cut short
America at the turn of the 20th century was almost still in its infancy in coming to terms with its identity on the back of the lawlessness of the wild west and a new industrial and mechanical age. Telecommunication was limited but the age of the motor car was almost upon it. The scene was set for a new age of roving hustlers and con men whose black listing being...
Published on 26 Jan 2011 by mfl


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What can Titanic Thompson teach you?, 20 Jan 2011
By 
The Truth "How it is" (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'm not sure where to start with this review - there was so much about this book I liked.

I'd never heard of Titanic Thompson before - and as with all men of legend, it's hard to separate fact from fiction and tell man from myth. Over the years, stories get told and retold, grow and take on a life of their own. Certainly though, this all adds to the mystique of the man known as Titanic; a name he earned after a wager in a pool hall: ''I don't rightly know what it is [his name], but it ought to be Titanic - he sinks everybody...''

I loved Kevin Cook's writing style. I really enjoyed it, and the way the storytelling was approached was perfect for the subject and seemed to match Titanic's bold confidence and swagger step for step. It captures the spirit of the time and is littered with great turns of phrase - meaning what could have easily tumbled into a bland acount of dates, facts and figures, soon became a vivid account of a grifter's escapades, brought to life by Kevin's sterling storytelling. I'm sure poetic licence was taken quite liberally to bring scenes alive - but the book is all the better for it.

Titanic was clearly a man of great talent. He had a savant like gift for numbers matched only by charisma, charm and balls of brass - the essential tools of any good confidence man. He was ruthless, yet generous; knew people better than they knew themselves just from watching them - the way they thought, worked, moved and acted. He was bold and fearless, as well as diligent, and hardworking. And it's also clear that the man was devilishly clever...

So what lessons, if any, can you take away from such a great man? Hmmm, is great the right word - perhaps exceptional is better suited... Well, however you describe him, there are lots in fact. But perhaps the most important lessons to be taken from these pages are that of hard work, practice, persistence and perseverance. It took him years to perfect the skills needed to become such a successful con artist and achieve the 'seemingly' impossible (such as tossing hotel room keys into door locks. A trick that earned him many free nights in all the best hotels of the time) . The man himself tells us: ''If a things hard to do, most folks are too lazy to do it... That puts me one up on 'em."

By the end of the book you'll have learnt a lot about all sorts of history, cheats, games and scams, and read tales about all sorts of colourful characters that fell for the man's charms and hustles; Al Capone, Howard Hughes, Harry Houdini, Arnold Rothstein and Minnesota Fats; who said of him: ''Titanic was like a magician. He had the hands of an artist."

By the end of his life Titanic had won and lost millions, had married 5 women and murdered 5 men; though he'd tell you: ''They'd all agree they had it coming...''
I could go on and on telling you about the games he played, the rackets he ran, and the scrapes he avoided. But I don't want to spoil the fun. In the end I think it best you find them all out for yourself. Let's just say this gun-slinging, card-sharking, fast-living American became known as 'The man who will bet on anything', and in the true spirit of Titanic himself, I bet you this: once you start reading this book, you won't be able to put it down.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great read, 7 Mar 2011
I first read about this book in the sunday papers, and decided to buy it, it's everything i expected, a great read.

I would certainly recommend it
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The life & times of the worlds greatest grifter, 20 Jan 2011
By 
The Truth "How it is" (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
I'm not sure where to start with this review - there's so much I could say and so much about this book I liked.

I'd never heard of Titanic Thompson before - and as with all men of legend, it's hard to separate fact from fiction and tell man from myth. Over the years, stories get told and retold, grow and take on a life of their own. Certainly though, this all adds to the mystique of the man known as Titanic; a name he earned after a wager in a pool hall: ''I don't rightly know what it is [his name], but it ought to be Titanic - he sinks everybody...''

I loved Kevin Cook's writing style. I really enjoyed it, and the way the storytelling was approached was perfect for the subject and seemed to match Titanic's bold confidence and swagger step for step. It captures the spirit of the time and is littered with great turns of phrase - meaning what could have easily tumbled into a bland acount of dates, facts and figures, soon became a vivid account of a grifter's escapades, brought to life by Kevin's sterling storytelling. I'm sure poetic licence was taken quite liberally to bring scenes alive - but the book is all the better for it.

Titanic was clearly a man of great talent. He had a savant like gift for numbers matched only by charisma, charm and balls of brass - the essential tools of any good confidence man. He was ruthless, yet generous; knew people better than they knew themselves just from watching them - the way they thought, worked, moved and acted. He was bold and fearless, as well as diligent, and hardworking. And it's also clear that the man was devilishly clever...

So what lessons, if any, can you take away from such a great man? Hmmm, is great the right word - perhaps exceptional is better suited... Well, however you describe him, there are lots in fact. But perhaps the most important lessons to be taken from these pages are that of hard work, practice, persistence and perseverance. It took him years to perfect the skills needed to become such a successful con artist and achieve the 'seemingly' impossible (such as tossing hotel room keys into door locks. A trick that earned him many free nights in all the best hotels of the time) . The man himself tells us: ''If a things hard to do, most folks are too lazy to do it... That puts me one up on 'em."

By the end of the book you'll have learnt a lot about all sorts of history, cheats, games and scams, and read tales about all sorts of colourful characters that fell for the man's charms and hustles; Al Capone, Howard Hughes, Harry Houdini, Arnold Rothstein and Minnesota Fats; who said of him: ''Titanic was like a magician. He had the hands of an artist."

In his lifetime Titanic won and lost millions, married 5 women and murdered 5 men; though he'd tell you: ''They'd all agree they had it coming...'' and I could go on and on telling you about the games he played, the rackets he ran, and the scrapes he avoided. But I don't want to spoil the fun. In the end I think it best you find them all out for yourself. But I will tell you this: this gun-slinging, card-sharking, fast-living American became known as 'The man who will bet on anything' and in the true spirit of Titanic himself, I bet you - once you start reading this book, you won't be able to put it down.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Who?, 26 July 2011
By 
M. D. Harris (Leicester, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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A fascinating and entertaining book about someone you've probably never heard of - a gambler, pool shark, ambidextrous pro-level golfer, ladies man, hustler and killer. Some of the stories border on the unbelievable, but an internet search backed the book up (and the internet is never wrong...). Once I'd finished the book I lent it to my Dad, who read in a matter of days and would not stop talking about it for weeks - a rare occurrence. Definitely worth your time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book, 2 Mar 2011
By 
Mr. L. A. Okeefe "scutterluke" (Birmingham England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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Recently I have been watching the excellent Boardwalk empire and I have found that I have become really interested in several of the main characters. One of whom I wanted to find out more about so I ordered, Rothstein The Life, Times, and Murder of the Criminal Genius Who Fixed the 1919 World Series by David Pietusza. Amazon recommended Titanic Thompson by Kevin Cook. I'm glad that I took the suggestion because this book is brilliant a great tale about a true individual who would bet on anything and everything, and win (or cheat so that he won). Titanic rubbed shoulders with some of greats of the twenties and thirties Al Capone, Howards Hughes, Harry Houdini and Arnold Rothstein to name but a few. The stories of the cons, and gambles Thompson makes and takes are brilliant, I found I could not put the book down. My only two slight criticism are hat the book just isn't long enough, and towards the final third of the book it becomes very golf heavy, I understand that the author is a golf writer and that is what drove him to write the book in the first place but I would have liked a bit more on the early cons and a bit less on the game of golf. That said it is still one of the most enjoyable biographies I have ever read, a definite recommend.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sharp, 30 Jan 2011
By 
Charles Vasey (London, England) - See all my reviews
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Titanic Thompson's career in card-sharpery, hustling and risk taking and the positive light in which it is regarded seems very American. One wonders if Britain in the 1860s (an equivalent era) had as many rascals, or whether this was just a perfect storm; a country full of wealth, with the means to travel it faster than news of one's ruses could spread. In some ways hustlers were, as the author notes, the new outlaws in a nation which no longer had a frontier. Nowadays I can see old Titanic doing well as a day trader. Although much of his life fits the American dream its end encompasses much of the American nightmare as he loses his skills, spends his loot and looks into what might be an even better hustle - healthcare. The list of suckers rooked is long indeed, but behind it is a man with a great deal of spirit, lots of cunning, and more relationship issues than two episodes of Emmerdale.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I wish I had his life, 20 Jan 2011
He really did live a fascinating life. He was a legendary gambler, brilliant Golfer, married five very young wives and killed five men in self defence.

Many of the stories really are fascinating and the ways in which he won many of his "proposition" bets was incredible. If I wasn't so lazy I might try to use some of them down the pub to win a bit of money.
Despite being functionally illiterate he had a superb grasp of probabilities and memory for numbers and he even consulted with a professor of mathematics. Despite this he still managed to lose vast sums of money betting on the horses.

The bright and breezy writing style of the author suits the subject matter very well.
Occasionally it did seem like there was one anecdote after another and I would have liked more analysis and for him to have expanded on some of the events and also heard more from the people that didn't like him. Sometimes I felt the book went a bit easy on him when he abandoned yet another wife.

Some of the marketing slightly oversells his meetings with celebrities from the entertainment industry. Most of the famous people in the book are gamblers, golfers and gangsters.
I was amazed to learn about how good he was at Golf and how he had played with and beaten many legendary figures of the game. Despite its reputation nowadays for probity and strict rules, it was a huge gambling game and players could win more in side bets than for winning major tournaments.

There is an interesting bit at the end in his note on sources where the author comments on how accurate all the stories are. He claims that he believes the vast majority of the stories in the book are accurate and when he isn't certain he says so. Titanic Thompson was quite a well know character and had many articles written about him and many well know characters included stories about him in their own autobiographies.

I now have the urge on meeting people to immediately offer them a bet.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Titanic Thompson, 31 Dec 2010
By 
Spider Monkey (UK) - See all my reviews
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The biography of Titanic Thompson recounts a life that is so outlandish you almost couldn't make it up.

A gambler and hustler who started out in the early twentieth century, Titanic travelled America playing poker, gambling on golf games and placing bets on anything he could think of. He married 5 times and murdered 5 men and lived a life so interesting it could quite easily be made into a film.

The stories of his early exploits as a child reminded me of Tom Sawyer, where he hustles people and uses their own greed against them. His later life show him making bets of such audacity that although highly unscrupulous, you can't help but be impressed with his ingenuity and bare-faced cheek. Using sleight of hand, card marking and other scams with various accomplices Titanic made vast sums of money from things like games of poker, betting on golf games and how many melons may be in a lorry he sees drive past, to tossing a (secretly weighted) bottle cap over a block in distance.

This book portrays Titanic as a ruthless gambler and yet at the same time gentlemanly and generous and it's a wonder he hasn't been heard of more often. Other reviewers on Amazon have noted this book has an almost tabloid quality to the writing and whilst I agree it doesn't have a great deal of depth and skims over some details (like his brief time in jail), the writing style allows you to fly through this in no time and you get caught up in the chicanery and hustling on offer.

Overall, this made for a entertaining and easy to read romp through the life of a quirky, cunning and fascinating character. Worth taking a punt on and giving it a read.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book!, 20 Dec 2012
By 
M. Hosker (Lancashire, England) - See all my reviews
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Well, I'm sure it would have been but I left it unread in a bedroom drawer at that hotel inside Orlando airport. If you found it there can I have it back please?
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5.0 out of 5 stars Arrived on time, quality and bargain, 24 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Titanic Thompson: The Man Who Bet on Everything (Paperback)
As described will use again. Brand new and at a fraction of the price of other sites will buy again and recommend.
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Titanic Thompson: The Man Who Bet on Everything
Titanic Thompson: The Man Who Bet on Everything by Kevin Cook (Paperback - 5 Jan 2012)
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