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VINE VOICETOP 1000 REVIEWERon 16 July 2015
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. I thought that the author rather overdid this element of the book and maybe made more of it than there really is the evidence to substantiate but it is certainly a fascinating set of events.

This is an excellent social history of an era of criminality and corruption which hopefully is long gone. It is well written and very readable. The subject is fascinating and the author fills in the context well and tells the stories of minor characters to flesh out the main narrative. I enjoyed this a lot.
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on 13 May 2017
I love ben Macintyres books, the stories of WW2 espionage are my favourite, brilliantly researched and written. I was disappointed with the napoleon of crime, as it doesn't maintain your interest in the same way. The issue is that this criminal operated at the turn of the 20th century, and obviously didn't leave any detailed records of his crimes. While its been proven or inferred, the actual execution and planning of the crimes cannot be determined and the book left me underwhelmed. It quickly glossed over his most audacious crimes making them appear rather easy to perform. These were mostly referenced from newspaper articles from the times, and 2 autobiographies from criminals. I found the book a chore to get through, and would suggest his other works instead of this one.
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on 21 January 2018
An amazing tale from a fascinating era, Highlighting almost unbelievable but true events!
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on 21 January 2017
Rather disappointing and more about a painting than the individual. Not up to his usual high standards and certainly the least absorbing.
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on 11 May 2013
I'm quite hard to please in terms of books. This one by Ben Macintryre is a fantastic, fast-past biography of a man who was the inspiration for Sherlock Holmes's arch-nemesis Moriarty.

The fact that it's a true story and weaves in the history of the Pinkertons and the Duchess of Gainsborough adds to the intrigue. Adam Worth's story is truly fascinating. I couldn't put it down!
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on 7 March 2017
An entertaining and interesting look at a tryout exceptional Victorian criminal. The book itself felt like it was 60 pages too long, MacIntyre used lots of descriptive prose covering the Duchess of Devonshire and Victorian life.
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on 2 March 2017
Really enjoyed this book. Fascinating and well paced.
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on 24 November 2016
This was a present for friend, I am sure it was much appreciated
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on 31 January 2018
great book about character who inspired conan doyle's chief villain including some very interesting characters
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on 16 February 2015
very good read
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