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Criminal exploits, secret agent intrigue, and clever -disguises fill the pages of Francois Eugene Vidocq’s memoirs. A legendary figure in history, Vidocq is known as the first detective and an inspiration to great writers such as Honore de Balzac, Victor Hugo and Edgar Allen Poe. As a player in the criminal underworld, Vidocq is a master of disguises and an accomplished th ...more
Paperback, 433 pages
Published May 1st 2003 by Nabat Books
(first published 1828)
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Dec 20, 2016 Gary Inbinder rated it really liked it · review of another edition
“It takes a thief to catch a thief.” The adage applies to Eugene François Vidocq (1775-1857), the reformed French criminal who became a police spy, head of the Sûreté (plainclothes criminal investigation division of the Paris Prefecture of Police) and later, private investigator. A controversial figure, he is generally recognized as a pioneer of modern police procedure, forensics and a system for maintaining records on known criminals, including detailed physical descriptions, aliases, disguises ...more
Nov 12, 2007 Judah T. rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Lovers of true crime or early detective fiction
Compared to "You Can't Win". . . not nearly as engrossing. Where Jack Black recounts his exploits with a good dose of self effacement and folksy charm, Vidocq loves to toot his own horn. It just got kind of boring after a little while. I finished it anyway because I am O.C.D..
Like meeting one of those people who has a seemingly endless trove of amazing stories, at first you're enthralled, but after a while, you're kind of ready for the guy to shut up. That being said, this book is a great window into the criminal classes of France at the turn of the 19th century. And what's really fascinating is speculating on the motives for the way Vidocq presents himself. I'm not sure how much of the style is standard braggadaccio of the era, how much of it is an indictment of the ...more
Equal parts fascinating and long-in-the-tooth. Vidocq recounts his life of crime that transforms into his becoming one of the most celebrated and feared members of the Paris Police force in the early 1800s. No doubt that Vidocq can tell a tale, but the one problem with the book is that it reads more like a series of anecdotes and episodes, rather than a memoir with a conventional arc. Vidocq is a transformed man by the end, but you never really feel that transformation. It happens as a matter of ...more
Die Memoiren von Eugène Francois Vidocq wurden 1820 herausgegeben. Die deutsche Fassung beruht auf einer Übersetzung aus dem Jahr 1920. Der weit überwiegende Teil des Buches folgt dem immer selben Muster: Verbrechen - Verhaftung - Ausbruch - Verbrechen... Das macht das Buch ziemlich langatmig. Interessanter wird es letztlich erst mit der Rückkehr Vidocqs in die Gesellschaft, zunächst als Polizeispitzel, dann als Chef der Sicherheitspolizei. Die bei Autobiographien fast zwangsläufig vorhandenen Ü ...more
Aug 19, 2008 Spiros rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: those who enjoy accounts of megalomania
This abridged memoir of the man who was the true founder of detective fiction starts as an interminable series of clever escapes, followed by dunderheaded blunders which lead our hero right back into stir, repeated over and over again. Only when Vidocq finds his vocation as a police agent, or rat fink, if you prefer, does the narrative gain any momentum. Curiously, it is only when he is throwing thousands(!) of them into jail that Vidocq expresses any sympathy for the thieves and brigands he is ...more
This guy was a stage-actor,circus clown,disguise master,thief,con artist,lock pick master,lover,who became one of Paris' most celebrated and controversial police chiefs.He was the inspiration for Victor Hugo's Valjean and in his life he really did believe in rehabilitation of criminals and in economic opportunities for those like himself who were largely reactives to a crumbling and corrupt society.
The autobiography of Vidocq, one of France's most famous criminals and Inspectors, is an entertaining collection of criminal tales (mainly his own prison breaks and his entrapment and double crossing of other thieves) from the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Unfortunately, Vidocq is no Voltaire, and it's repetitiveness makes it a bit tough to get through.
Important and historic memoir from the master crook and detective. Vidocq was a pioneer in law enforcement. Although derivative at times due to the author's ego and questionable narrative, the book is a fascinating glimpse into the world of crime and Napoleonic-Second Empire France.
Eugène François Vidocq (French pronunciation: [øʒɛn fʁɑswa viˈdɔk) was a French criminal and criminalist whose life story inspired several writers, including Victor Hugo and Honoré de Balzac. A former crook who subsequently became the founder and first director of the crime-fighting Sûreté Nationale as well as the head of the first known private detective agency, he is today considered by historia ...moreMore about Eugène François Vidocq...