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Catch Me If You Can: The True Story Of A Real Fake

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  21,311 ratings  ·  1,205 reviews
I stole every nickel and blew it on fine threads, luxurious lodgings, fantastic foxes and other sensual goodies. I partied in every capital in Europe and basked on all the world's most famous beaches'. Frank W Abagnale, alias Frank Williams, Robert Conrad, Frank Adams and Ringo Monjo, was one of the most daring con men, forgers, imposters and escape artists in history. In...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published January 23rd 2003 by Mainstream Publishing (first published 1980)
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Heather
"What I learned from this book," Goodreads asks? That "con man" really does mean "confidence man": the more you act like you deserve something, the more likely you are to get it.

A precocious child who devised clever modes of personal gain, Frank A. grew into an even smarter man. He faked college degrees, professional affiliations, career histories - pretty much everything, including his name. Without any relevant schooling, throughout his life he "was" (meaning he successfuly convinced people h...more
Megan
This is honestly the best book I have read in a long time. It's one of the few that I couldn't put down and had to know what was going to happen next. I know I had already seen the movie, but the book was better. I was disappointed to find out that the movie was actually a watered-down version of the story, and that the events were shuffled around and sometimes completely made up to go along with the flow of the movie. The actual story is much harsher and emotional, and there is really no cat-an...more
Gary Taylor
Although I knew the ghostwriter, Stan Redding, as far back as the 1970s and in the 1980s when this shot to the top of the bestseller lists, I never sat down to read it until 2008. When I was done, I couldn't understand the fuss. I've had to chalk it up to the tenor of the times, in which any sort of true confession like Abagnale's would seem a revelation. In addition, I am sure the excitement of such an accomplished, child-prodigy con artist overshadowed the omission of some elements I would hav...more
Tom Germain
This is the true crime book that inspired the fun movie starring DiCaprio and Hanks. Truly amazing what Abagnale, a guy who never finished high school, got away with, such as impersonating an airline pilot, a lawyer and a teacher...and all at a very young age. Sometimes the veracity of his claims may be in doubt, as after all, he was a con man, but even if half of it happened as he describes it, it serves as a lesson in human relations, namely that you should never trust what your eyes or ears t...more
Nina
Entertaining, if somewhat lightweight. Two big things that hold me back from rating this higher: 1)The author's attitude towards women is stuck pretty firmly in the early 60s. Women, to him, are basically ornaments that are so dazzled by his looks and brilliance that they go along with his schemes unquestioningly. Even women who supposedly played major roles in his life and exploits (including one he nearly married and one who helped him escape from prison) seem to have no personalities of their...more
Eric_W
This memoir is by a man considered by many police agencies to be one of the cleverest con men they had ever pursued. By the age
of 17, he was successfully impersonating a PanAm pilot, deadheading around the country and using fake identification to cash NSF
checks. He was almost caught in New Orleans, but convinced the FBI and local police that his credentials were authentic -- he had, after all, managed to pull the wool over experienced airline pilots -- but he was pretty lucky, too, because the P...more
Christopher Roth
Quite a good page-turner. I love the detail about the bad-check-passing scam, which for me ranks this book alongside Maurer's pickpocket ethnography "Whiz Mob." However, I must say that the book has a feel of pathological lying about it. I have known people who are or aspired to be confidence men/women, and who get their kicks from impersonating people and lying about their backgrounds, and most of them are pathological liars and thus cannot be trusted even, perhaps especially, when they are des...more
Monte
This book was actually written about twenty years before the movie was made. Stephen Spielberg took the liberty in changing some of the details and made a movie out of it. According to Frank Abagnale, the movie is about 80% accurate. I don't like how he bragged about how gullible these people were when he was able to con them. I could see his inner struggles when it comes to his love life. He wanted to get married with certain women; and yet, he knew that no way can the marriage take place becau...more
Alex Dunn
Is it possible to be a pilot, a doctor, a professor, a lawyer, and a millionaire all before you are 21? Frank William Abagnale Jr. completed such feats as a teenager. Forging signatures, swindling checks, and charming every pretty bank teller were part of the normal routine For Abagnale. Mainly “Abagnale” was not his name though, as he had many pseudonyms and fake identities. All of Abagnale's stories and crimes are accounted for in his autobiography, Catch Me If You Can.
Abagnale's first con...more
Brandon
Feb 15, 2011 Brandon rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of true crime, folks who want to take down "the man".
Catch Me If You Can: The True Story of a Real Fake is all about how a 16 year old boy became the most daring con-man in US history. Over the course of 4 years, Frank had stolen millions of dollars and flown all over the world posing as a piolet for Pan-Am airlines. Oh, and did I mention he also posed as a doctor, lawyer and school teacher?

Not only was he caught (several times before finally being put away) but he was later employed by the US government to help catch those trying to do what he d...more
Brad
First, this new edition leaves off the Epilogue. This happened when when the movie came out. Geez--what's so difficult about including 7 more pages? Get the 1980 edition, Grosset & Dunlap, publishers for the last seven pages that explains what happens next in his life, ISBN 0448165384. Or see if your library has it, Call No. HV6760.A18 A33.

Like others, I found this book to be great entertainment. He's a criminal, yet, you laugh out loud at how he pulled some of his cons off and shake your he...more
Carly
The first 200 or so pages--I was SO into. Then, the repetitiveness about how smart he is, how young he was, how he managed to rip of countless people, etc, etc..just got old.

It was a really different feeling than I had from the movie. In the movie, I felt bad for poor Leonardo DiCaprio, and didn't want him to get caught. In the book, I couldn't wait for him to get caught. (And was a little peeved that he ended the book when he escaped--leaving it to the ghost writer to clarify in the afterword....more
Adam Wilson
Catch Me If You Can is an excellent novel. For me, the fact that it’s a non-fiction tale made it all the more engaging. It’s easy to read countless fiction books and, when things are getting interesting or horrifying, you can say “it’s all make-believe.” With this book, you must remind yourself that this really happened. Abagnale really pulled this stuff off at such a young age.
The plot seems to be one that most people are familiar with so I won’t go into it much, but I will say that it is one o...more
Nicole Edwards
Seriously loved this. I like a good memoir anyway, but Frank Abagnale, Jr. is the James Bond of American criminals. Everything he did was so original, creative, interesting, ballsy and often quite funny. I laughed aloud a few times. And I'm glad that after all the crazy caper stories the book delved into how bad prison and "paying his debt to society was"; People who read this book don't get any ideas about living an exciting jet-setting life of crime because once he was caught and convicted he...more
Elena
I found this book exhausting to read. It is unbelievable the schemes this kid pulled off and it just seemed like it was a never-ending quest! Oh to have that kind of energy and aplomb! The movie doesn't even come close to what Frank has done in his 4-year career as a con artist, however, I do like the movie better, because, in my opinion, it has a better ending. You get closure. The book ends too abruptly for my taste.
Manda
I loved the film, but nearly gave up on the book several times. Abagnale is keen to be cool - using slang that I don't understand, he is also lavisious about women, which I found irritating to read, and he is really annoyingly chuffed with himself for fooling so many people, without much of a concience. He brags that he made it a rule not to con money from individuals, but conning money from a big organisation just means that you hit a lot more individuals, because big organisations are owned by...more
bazra bat
This book hypnotized me. Couldn't stop reading until the end. From my opinion this is the example how the book must be written. Very accurately written, right in a doze. Some books are too concerned in lengthening the story, adding some unnecessary information and selling by more price. But this book really short, and There is nothing too sufficient or lack of information. This how the story and the book must be written.

I actually saw the movie earlier. And to tell the truth I was actually liked...more
Carol Apple
I read this because up until recently I had never heard of this famous criminal and it sounded like it might be an interesting story. I thought I might pick up some information about human nature and the way the world works. I was right. It was a funny and engaging story and I think I did gain a some new insights to human nature and the way the world works - or at least the way the world worked in the 1960s. There are plenty of scam artists at work in the present, but many of Frank Abagnale's sc...more
Tima
Basic Summary: Watch the movie, you'll get the gist.

This book claims to be an autobiography written by Frank Abagnale Jr, a first-hand account of his wild, sexy, preposterously daring days posing [most significantly] as a Pan Am pilot during the 70's. [But also as a sociology professor, a pediatrician and a lawyer]. While on a Wikipedia binge regarding the subject, I came across a quote from Abagnale who said he only spoke to the author a total of 4 times during the book's conception. And that...more
Carlie
what a great book. i enjoyed the movie, which i saw previously, but the book was a different form of entertainment. obviously, the movie is quite dynamic, and had to enhance some characters for interesting-ness sake. but what i enjoyed about the book is that frank's narration of his own events are just that, narration. he tells what happened, without too much of the look-at-how-freaking-awesome-i-am egotistical attitude.
this man is brilliant. he says many times, or eludes to it, how a finely gr...more
PurplyCookie
I really enjoyed the movie, but I did not believe any of it. For how could a 16 year old pull off all these scams posing successfully as an airline pilot, lawyer, doctor, and FBI agent? To my amazement, almost nothing in the movie was dramatized. Frank Abagnale did it all. And, this even includes the acrobatic escape from a commercial plane as it lands. The book depicts a far richer story than the movie since the movie skipped over interesting jobs, including a stint as a college sociology teach...more
Karisa
I listened to this book on CD, and it was crazy. It’s the true story of the con artist Frank Abagnale, written by himself. The back of the book says: “In his brief but notorious criminal career, Abagnale donned a pilot's uniform and copiloted a Pan Am jet, masqueraded as the supervising resident of a hospital, practiced law without a license, passed himself off as a college sociology professor, and cashed over $2.5 million in forged checks, all before he was twenty-one.” It’s really hard to beli...more
Anya
I was impressed with the cons that Abagnale pulled off, especially the ones where he conned people into believing that he was a pilot, doctor, and lawyer without having even graduated high school. I can't imagine the balls you'd need to pull that kind of stuff off.

However, I found it really difficult to sympathize with Abagnale, which I was not expecting because I love a good con. But this man even swindled his own father, felt entitled to everything, blamed the ones being conned for being too g...more
Shahine Ardeshir
Like most of you would, I picked up this book because I had seen and thoroughly enjoyed the movie. Refreshingly, though, the book is anything but a carbon copy of the script, and in fact, takes off in a very different direction. The biggest difference is that the film built and accommodated many characters - Frank, his parents, the FBI, girlfriends. The book focuses solely on Frank, with little mention of anyone else.

In a sense, this is great: There are chapters and chapters simply dedicated to...more
Sara Scott
Catch me if you can is about Frank W. Abagnale, an 18 year old impostor. Abagnale is known as one of the worlds best impostor out there. Frank started his career at 18 with committing bank fraud. Along with bank fraud, Abagnale would impose as a Pan Am Airline pilot, a doctor, a U.S. Bureau of Prisons agent, and a lawyer. After being commuted into prison and escaping twice before the age of 21, Frank served 5 years in the US prison, 6 months in the horrible French prison, and 1 year in Sweden tr...more
Jason Jb
This was a fun read. Certainly no great piece of literature, but entertaining nonetheless.

Frank Abagnale describes his life as con-man in the 1960's, going into great detail how he masterminded his outlandish schemes and swindles. He begins with a brief description of his family life and then jumps right into the cons. He doesn't seem to hold back on anything and is very concise when describing how he got away with his various crimes.

It is an intriguing look into a by-gone era that many still f...more
Teresa
An astonishing and entertaining account of the escapades of a teenaged con-man. Given the nature of Frank's crimes, he is hardly a hero. However, in many ways he is an inspirational figure. I have observed that a lot of what seperates the highly successful from the mediorcre people is that HS people have the confidence in themselves to "go for it". Frank has this, albeit within a criminal framework. Obviously a highly intelligent man, he is now using his knowledge of fraud to educate banks and...more
John Wiswell
It’s proper to enter this book dubiously. Frank Abagnale was a con-man that swindled over two million dollars from people, so why wouldn’t he dupe you? His ghostwriter, Stan Redding, would want a juicy story. There’s plenty of ego and reason to deceive. Further, Abagnale publicly disclaimed, “I was interviewed by the co-writer only about four times. I believe he did a great job of telling the story, but he also over dramatized and exaggerated some of the story. That was his style and what the ed...more
Jonathan
Jan 23, 2012 Jonathan rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone, especially fans of the movie.
Recommended to Jonathan by: Steven Spielberg
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tony
I'm not a Leo DiCaprio fan, and I never got around to seeing this movie, but last Friday night there was absolutely nothing on television that I wanted to watch. I have hundreds of DVDs that I haven't seen yet, but I like to come downstairs to the family room in the evening armed with the newspapers, mail, and magazines, and I actually prefer a show that I don't have to pay much attention to and use the commercial time to prepare dinner, drinks, etc.

So... I watched the movie and enjoyed it so mu...more
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Anyone read the book, and see the movie, and see the musical play? 16 39 Jan 24, 2014 08:23AM  
Mrs. Meyer Bell 6: Con Man 5 10 May 16, 2013 07:33PM  
Goodreads Librari...: Issue with the book Catch Me If You Can 2 25 Mar 05, 2013 12:42PM  
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Born and raised in the Westchester County city of Bronxville, New York, Abagnale attended Iona Preparatory School, an all boys Catholic high school which is run by the Irish Christian Brothers. He was the third of four children (two brothers and one sister) born to a French mother, Paula Abagnale, and an American father, Frank William Abagnale, Sr.

One of the early signs of his future as a fraudste...more
More about Frank W. Abagnale...
The Art of the Steal: How to Protect Yourself and Your Business from Fraud, America's #1 Crime Stealing Your Life: The Ultimate Identity Theft Prevention Plan Catch Me If You Can: The Film and the Filmmakers The Art of the Steal Real U Guide to Identity Theft

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“What bothered me most was their lack of style. I learned early that class is universally admired. Almost any fault, sin or crime is considered more leniently if there's a touch of class involved.” 29 likes
“When you're up there hundreds of people will claim you as a friend. When you're down, you're lucky if one will buy you a cup of coffee.” 18 likes
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