The Art of Making Money: The Story of a Master Counterfeiter
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The Art of Making Money: The Story of a Master Counterfeiter

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  664 ratings  ·  116 reviews
The true story of a brilliant counterfeiter who "made" millions, outwitted the Secret Service, and was finally undone when he went in search of the one thing his forged money couldn't buy him: family.

Art Williams spent his boyhood in a comfortable middle-class existence in 1970s Chicago, but his idyll was shattered when, in short order, his father abandoned the family, his...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published June 11th 2009 by Gotham (first published 2009)
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Paul Childs
This was a fascinating book about a guy that grows up in an environment that was simply awful and how he eventually goes on to become one of the best counterfeiters in the United States. Seems his only real advantage was that he was smart. In every other way; parents, where he lived, friends, and schooling, he got a raw deal.

After growing up as nothing more than a petty criminal he learns the basics about counterfeiting from his mother's boyfriend and learns just enough to get him hooked.

The boo...more
On break at the library one day with the book I was reading at home, I started wandering through the new non-fiction section and found this book. The front cover caught my eye, and I sat down to read. The background story was slow-going, but once the author got into the meat of the story, I was hooked.

Here was a guy named Art (re-read the title of the book now - it's a play on words) who, by a strange twist of fate, ends up making counterfeit money. There was no doubt about the fact that Art wa...more
A surprisingly captivating tale that could have been dull or, worse, cynically served up to an audience expecting a cathartic "cops vs. robbers" story, The Art of Making Money is a well-fleshed out, carefully researched look into the life of Art Williams, Jr., a kid who got no break from the horrors of life on the South Side of Chicago in the '80s and '90s, and, through a 'lucky' discovery, learned the professional trade of counterfeiting from a career counterfeiter as a teenager. Taking the ski...more
So, so, so, SO good!!! Recommended to me by one of my favorite people, and one of the best book recommenders I know!! A very quick read, and a peek inside the mind of a master criminal. Maybe it's just the former banker in me, but I couldn't put this book down. HIGHLY recommend.
When I borrowed this from the library, I thought it would be more about the actual counterfeiting and less of a biography of the counterfeiter, but it was still okay. Luckily, I picked it up as an audio book, because the author gets VERY overly dramatic at times, and as an audio book, it's a bit easier to take, possibly because it sounds like the narrator of the old "Lone Ranger" or "Rocky & Bullwinkle" shows. On the written page, it would be MUCH harder to take.

There's really only one likab...more
Bound Miami SunPost September 30, 2009

Dough-Re-Me, Baby!

Jason Kersten Knows a Cat Who Really Makes Money

John Hood

You know, if the economy wasn’t so screwed up and a few less folks owed me loot, I would’ve have written up Jason Kersten’s The Art of Making Money (Gotham $26) way back at the beginning of June, when the book first hit shops. But I was so intrigued by the notion, and so in need of what the notion might deliver, that I figured I’d go ahead and t...more
I've decided that truth is far more interesting than fiction. The plot of this book is fascinating. An incredibly precocious boy abandoned by his father and raised in a horrid ghetto by a bipolar mother becomes the world's best counterfeiter.

The description of the process he used to outwit all the government's security systems and create a perfect bill read like a mystery novel. He loved the challenge and worked to perfect his craft. Even his personal life made him a very sympathetic character....more
An excellent book. As interesting as I'd expected the technical details to be (and they were), the human story of Arthur Willams, Jr.'s life were even more compelling. Jason Kersten does a tremendous job of placing all the elements of Art's life into context. Expecting to read about counterfeiting, I was mezmerized by this tale of a talented, but troubled, young man and his far-flung life of crime, of which counterfeiting was, in a way (at least, as portrayed by Kersten) the culmination of an al...more
Excellent book! As the title explains, it tells the tale of a master counterfeiter - it was very interesting to read how he perfected his art of counterfeiting. I learned a lot about US currency and the secret service. The counterfeiting story is combined with the individual's personal struggles - both of which stories were very interesting. It was a quick read, as the writer left me constantly wanting to know what would happen next.
I heard a discussion of this book on NPR and had to read it. It's interesting that we all live such parallel lives with such vastly different experiences. This book reads like a novel - the description of the counterfeiting process was fascinating - as well as the story of this dysfunctional family and the main characters struggle to be a "success." I was constantly reminding myself that this really happened.
Oct 01, 2009 Patrick rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Patrick by:
Shelves: non-fiction
What a great story. It would be a pretty good read if it were fiction, but the knowledge that it is real makes it really compelling - I literally could not put this down. The details of the technology and artistry of counterfeiting are fascinating, and the human reaction to the notes is just as compelling.
I took this to be a social study of Chicago in the 1970s, and less about counterfeiting and the counterfeiter. In that sense, it's a decent book.
What detracted me was the magazine-style writing. It's quick and sassy in a 10 page article, but it's grating in a 300-page book.
Jim Phillips
I like the writing style. Very engaging character driven storyline.
Jeff Grabowski
loved this book. having spent the first 30 years of my life living in chicago and cook country suburbs, i love kersten's attention to detail of naming off intersections, neighborhoods, specific locations, etc. i guess maybe i'm a bit nostalgic and home sick since i don't live there any more.

but even that connection aside, i still think it was written very well and was interesting.

my only comment is that kersten sensationalized a bit the nature of bridgeport. he commented several times that Brid...more
Carlos Mendoza
Back in 1987, I was working at Footlocker in a Houston mall, and I took a counterfeit $100 bill. I knew something was wrong with the bill--it just looked wrong, faded, and the paper definitely felt wrong. The guy passing it to me gave a nervous laugh as I scrutinized it and said "Yeah, it's a fake, hehe."

I took it anyway, deciding it was probably real and had just been washed in somebody's jeans a few times, and gave the guy his change. The next day my manager got a call from the bank saying the...more
An interesting look at the life of a criminal. A young Art Williams was doing well in school and showed a great deal of promise. He then became a product of his circumstance and started doing criminal acts in his South Side Chicago neighborhood. He had a mentor that introduced him to the counterfeiting business...he was hooked. He was soon printing his own money and getting away with it by selling it to other criminals as well as using it himself. His upbringing is heart wrenching and it makes o...more
Tom Schulte
I was so interested in Episode 46: The Royal Scam: Kings of Counterfeit on CNBC about the counterfeiting of Art Williams Jr. on American Greed that I watched it twice. This book fills in all the details about Art Williams, Jr., dubbed the "king of counterfeit," making funny money and tragically abandoned twice by his duplicitous father. from this dysfunctional family came the felonious success of the non pareil "supernote".It was also interesting to read of the history and techniques of the Secr...more
The book focused primarily on telling master counterfeiter Art William's story, with background details included here and there to provide context. A thoroughly enjoyable read, it gave me insight into the criminal mind (the high-level one, that is) and a deeper understanding of American society. More often than not, there's nothing inherently terrible or greedy about certain kinds of criminals, but circumstances and the influence from those around them push them in the direction of crime. At the...more
David Ward
The Art of Making Money: The Story of a Master Counterfeiter by Jason Kersten (Gotham Books 2009)(Biography). This is the story of a counterfeiter who cracked the code on the new 1996 hundred dollar bill> It includes insights into how he passed the fake money for legitimate currency. My rating: 6/10, finished 2010.
John Wagner
As much about the life of a criminally inclined family as about counterfeiting. I could have used a little more technical information. For example the author never really gets into the difference between offset printing and engraved printing, but for most readers the story of the family is probably more interesting anyway.
Daniel (Attack of the Books!) Burton
I felt guilty reading this book. There's not much edifying about a book about a guy who counterfeits...except that the story has all the elements of a great Italian opera, minus the fat lady singing. There's crime, betrayal, family intrigue, the mafia, heists, love and romance, narrow escapes, and a constantly uncertain outcome. Oh, and lots of money...fake money and real. These guys spend it like it's going out of fashion, like they could just make more. Which I guess was the whole point, right...more
A light palate cleanser after Infinite Jest, I enjoyed this breezy narrative about a guy who grew up with really awful parents and had moments of happiness in between stretches of ambition and punishment. This reads like a light novel and is probably a good gift for your business-y relative since it (literally) involves money and the thrills of crime. You don't learn a lot about the history of counterfeiting but there is a reference early in the book to a history book and enough detail about eff...more
I read the original magazine article in Rolling Stone about this subject and was afraid that It would only be so much fluff. However the details provided were very interesting, so I am pleased I bought it.
The Story of Art Wilson and his crime riddled childhood amid a less than happy family situation. He came up on the mean streets of Chicago where he learned crime and and then was tutored by a master counterfiter in how to create bills and the rules of counterfiting that would keep you out of j...more
Dec 22, 2010 Clare rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Ellen, Laurel
Recommended to Clare by: BN shelf
Full of suspense. Fascinating.

I learned a lot about counterfeit, the history of, techniques & strategies of, etc. I learned a lot about the Secret Service.

It was very interesting to watch Art's life unfold, to see how he was molded by his situation and to watch the choices he made.

It's too bad for Art that he reached out to his no good father when I bet that his mother could've really used his help if he had reached out to her instead. The choices we make in our family lives are always so co...more
I always enjoy true stories about underworld crime, and this was my first about counterfeiting. It was surely an enjoyable read but I did have higher hopes. I wasn't quite expecting a true beginning-to-end biography, and I think there was some faults with the narrative. We were hardly introduced to our protagonist before hearing tales of his childhood. I would have mixed background with current exploits to create suspense - which this novel lacked.

Additionally, I kept waiting for the author to e...more
Sean Hopkins
The story of Art Williams - a serial counterfeiter, who learned the art of counterfeiting from an older man in his neighborhood when he was a teennager. When the U.S. released new currency in 1996 with enhanced security features, he devoted himself to developing the perfect counterfiet 100 dollar bill. He printed and spent millions of dollars of counterfeit bills and eventually he was arrested as a result of his father's sharing of Art's secret with others during a stay in Alaska. In the end, cr...more
I read this book a while ago when I was working a job I hated and was reading like crazy. In a way it is kind of a throw away book, in that my life would be no different, what so ever, if I had never read it in the first place. But it gets 4 out 5 stars because the entire time I was reading it, it showed me how a determined and talented person could methodically undue, and go around the security that the US Government had put in place to prevent counterfeiting. This guy made millions, in that he...more
Jeremy Kozdon
The book chronicles Art Williams who was (is?) a counterfeiter. The amazing thing is that it is true, or at least it is the story the counterfeiter tells. Very hard to tell what was his story as opposed to interviews from others. The basic story is a kid who had a crummy childhood ends up being one of the best counterfeiters our there. He is caught in the end because his crummy upbringing catches up to him.

It is a very readable book, but not a page turner. Though the author does leave out detail...more
Jason Weber
Sometimes the truth is more interesting than fiction. This book is a perfect example of that! On the cover of the book, it says named one of the best books of 2009, and I couldn't agree more. If you like true crime, or intrigued about counterfeiting check it out!
I read this aloud to Davy and we enjoyed the history of making and protecting currency, as well as the details of counterfeiting it. Art, a master counterfeiter, endured a painful childhood and went on to choose an adult life of colorful instability. I developed a great talent for on-the-spot rewording so Davy missed the strong language (he now believes counterfeiters say things like darn it! and no way!), the heavy drug and alcohol use, and a few other gems which were seamlessly axed along the...more
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