Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Catch Me If You Can: The True Story of a Real Fake

Rate this book
Frank W. Abagnale, alias Frank Williams, Robert Conrad, Frank Adams and Robert Monjo, was one of the most daring con men, forgers, impostors and escape artists in history. In his brief but notorious career, Abagnale donned a pilot's uniform and co-piloted a Pan Am jet, masqueraded as the supervising resident of a hospital, practised law without a licence, passed himself off as a college sociology professor and cashed over $2.5 million in forged cheques, all before he was 21 years old.
Known by the police of 26 foreign countries and all 50 US states as 'The Skywayman', Abagnale lived a sumptuous life on the run - until the law finally caught up with him. Now recognised as America's leading authority on financial foul play, Abagnale is a charming rogue whose hilarious, stranger-than=fiction international escapes - including one from an aeroplane - make Catch Me if You Can an irresistible tale of deceit.

224 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1980

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Frank W. Abagnale

19 books246 followers
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 fraudster came when, after purchasing a car, he persuaded his father to lend him his Mobil card. With this card, he would purchase large quantities of car parts, such as tires, batteries, engines and fuel. The purchases were on paper only, the goods were never taken from the shelves. In an agreement with the gas station attendant, he would then immediately return the items for cash for less than the price at which they were purchased, the remainder being pocketed by the attendant. Not realizing that the card was in his father's name, he tricked his dad out of $3400, doing this to pay for dates, before the local Mobil branch sought his father out for questioning and expecting payment. Upon being confronted, Abagnale confessed to his father that "it's the girls that make me crazy", but escaped punishment for the incident. Later, his mother placed him for four months in a special Catholic Charities school for juvenile offenders.

In 1964, when he was 16, his parents divorced. The experience was so traumatic that he ran away during a court break. It was the last time he saw his father, though he renewed contact with his mother after seven years.

Living alone in New York City after running away, he became known as the "Big Nale", later shortened to just "Big". He decided to exploit his mature appearance and alter his driver's license to make it appear that he was ten years older to get a job. However Abagnale, posing as a high school dropout in his mid-twenties, quickly learned the more education one has, the more one is paid. Desperate to survive, he soon began working as a confidence trickster to earn money.

He has since become the founder of a secure-document corporation based in Washington DC. He lectures regularly worldwide and lives in the Midwest with his wife and three sons.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
21,204 (36%)
4 stars
22,394 (38%)
3 stars
10,797 (18%)
2 stars
2,369 (4%)
1 star
1,071 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,945 reviews
Profile Image for Crumb.
189 reviews526 followers
July 4, 2018
Fascinating and unbelievable

It amazes me that Frank Abagnale got away with all of his cons for as long as he did. He is a man of sharp wit and unduly intelligence. This is a story of white-collar crime and lies. Big, fat, whoppers. If you've seen the movie, Catch Me if You Can and have enjoyed it, you will definitely enjoy this one. This book is heavy on the entertainment and I have no problem with that. A very quick, easy read. Although this is non-fiction, it reads like a modern-day thriller. Absolutely recommended!

Profile Image for Heather.
393 reviews24 followers
November 20, 2008
"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 he was) a pilot, doctor and college professor, among others. Amazing.

This is a great book and a real inspiration for those who believe the mantra: what people don't know won't hurt them - and will probably help me.

Profile Image for Gary Taylor.
Author 4 books24 followers
March 10, 2009
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 have considered vital to this story. Stan allowed Frank to run wild and loose on the narrative of his exploits with almost no confirmation, so that technique left it hard to believe. A thorough job of dissecting Frank's psychology might have salvaged that issue. But I'm betting Frank was holding back, and Stan was just taking what he could get out of him. He still produced a book that would entice a the top movie director/actor combo of Scorcese/DiCaprio/Hanks to develop a feature film 20 years after the fact. But Stan and I were jouirnalists in Houston back in the 1970s, so I was expecting more from him. "Catch Me If You Can" was plenty of fun with a surface scrubbing of the main character's psychology that left me suspicious about how much of this true crime memoir actually was fiction.
Profile Image for Kay ☼.
1,965 reviews675 followers
March 16, 2021
It’s a scientific fact that the bumblebee can’t fly, either. But he does, and makes a lot of honey on the side. And that’s all I intended to be. A bumblebee in Pan Am’s honey hive.

I love the movie and the book is just as good. They are different with a lot more fakes in the book obviously. What's missing in the book is the FBI agent who Tom Hank portrayed, but not to worry there are plenty of law enforcement officials from various countries chasing Frank. Frank is very charismatic and I couldn't help cheering for him as he avoids getting captured.

I highly recommend the book if you enjoyed the movie. The ending is also different. The audio book, read by Barrett Whitener was a winner for me. 4.5⭐
Profile Image for Sophia Judice.
57 reviews11.9k followers
May 31, 2022
Just wanna mention a fun little story about Frank Abagnale. After he was caught by the Feds and began working for them undercover, he posed as a social worker in Houston, Texas. My mom’s family, who lived in Houston, fostered many kids, so Frank became aquatinted with them through his “social work”. He worked with my family for many years and was treated like a part of the family. Frank and his wife even got married in my grandparent’s backyard! After some time, Frank came clean to my grandparents about his past. They thought he was playing a weird joke, didn’t believe him. Then this book came out.

Frank was an important part of my mother’s childhood, and I’m grateful to him for all that he did for my family all those years ago. Reading Catch Me If You Can in high school was such a cool experience. I got to know the real story behind the man I had heard so much about all my life. Everyone should read🫶🏼
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
April 2, 2016
One of the New York cops who’d worked hardest to catch me read the report and snorted. “This head doctor’s gotta be kiddin‘ us,” he scoffed. “This phony rips off several hundred banks, hustles
half the hotels in the world for everything but the sheets, screws every airline in the skies, including most of their stewardesses, passes enough bad checks to paper the walls of the Pentagon, runs his own goddamned colleges and universities, makes half the cops in twenty countries look like dumbasses while he’s stealing over $2 million, and he has a low criminal threshold? What the hell would he have done if he’d had a high criminal threshold, looted Fort Knox?”

There is enchantment in a uniform, especially one that marks the wearer as a person of rare skills, courage or achievement.
A paratrooper’s wings tell of a special breed of soldier. A submariner’s dolphin denotes the
unusual sailor. A policeman’s blue symbolizes authority. A forest ranger’s raiment evokes wilderness lore. Even a doorman’s gaudy garb stirs vague thoughts of pomp and royalty.
I felt great in my Pan Am pilot’s uniform as I walked into La Guardia Airport. I obviously was
commanding respect and esteem. Men looked at me admiringly or enviously. Pretty women and girls smiled at me. Airport policemen nodded courteously. Pilots and stewardesses smiled, spoke to me or lifted a hand in greeting as they passed. Every man, woman and child who noticed me seemed warm and friendly.
It was heady stuff and I loved it. In fact, I became instantly addicted. During the next five years the uniform was my alter ego. I used it in the same manner a junkie shoots up on heroin. Whenever I felt lonely, depressed, rejected or doubtful of my own worth, I’d dress up in my pilot’s uniform and seek out a crowd. The uniform bought me respect and dignity. Without it on, at times, I felt useless and dejected. With it on, during such times, I felt like I was wearing Fortunatus’ cap and walking in
seven-league boots.

Profile Image for Tom Quinn.
545 reviews147 followers
March 16, 2019
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.

Charming and riotously entertaining, captivating and devilishly debonair. Crime has no business being this fun.

5 stars.
Profile Image for Megan.
16 reviews7 followers
May 16, 2008
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-and-mouse game with the detective. I mean yeah Abagnale did do stuff to piss off the police, and it was usually O'Reilly that was following him, but there wasn't that love hate relationship that there that really made the movie so great.

I was also disappointed in the fact that the book just kinda stopped. I loved how the movie showed Frank's experiences after being caught. I mean I guess he talked a little about that in the book, but it was more of an epilogue and part of the question and answer section with the author. The movie was able to show what it was like after his life of crime while I felt like the book was just like crime crime crime crime crime fun crime fun crime jail OVER.

So yeah.
Profile Image for Kathryn in FL.
716 reviews
October 30, 2021
Years ago, my mother discussed her impressions of the book, "The Great Imposter" by Michael Crichton. She was so enthused by the story, which was based on fact, I picked it up in my teens. It wasn't until this book, that I connected the dots. Crichton had written about Frank Abagnale Jr.

I found this read like fiction. Abagnale writes his story in delightful prose, that came across as very low-key and honest. I think that made him so convincing to his marks. He has a confidence that comes across as very authentic but not arrogant or prideful. I convinced a lot of my reading friends to pick it up and they were equally delighted. I have just watched the movie, for at least the third time and Leonardo DiCaprio portrays these impressions pretty accurately, although perhaps even more charming than even Frank. I mean c'mon, I would cash Leonardo's check wouldn't you?

A delightful read and a delightful movie, who could complain? Am I right?
Profile Image for Rachel (TheShadesofOrange).
2,090 reviews2,948 followers
December 20, 2022
4.0 stars
I love the movie and I equally love this memoir. Con artists is such a unique subgenre of true crime. My only concerm is that I have read that this memoir was embellished in publications. That's disappointing if it's true.
Profile Image for Theresa.
271 reviews17 followers
July 2, 2017
2.5/3 stars for the writing, but a full fledged 5 stars for his confidence and skill.

Frank Abagnale must be one of the smartest criminals I've ever read about. He's quick thinking, and he does his research. I really don't know how he got away with it for so long, and it's pretty amazing. I never have committed a crime and I hope I never have to, but I have to tip my hat to this guy.

Abagnale has successfully scammed everyone from airlines, hotels, and banks to local prisons, hookers, and the FBI. But this book really isn't all that special if you already saw the movie. That's right, the movie was better.

I loved Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks in the two roles and kept picturing them for the characters in the book. The book doesn't have anything more than the movie, and it isn't written very well either. If you already saw the movie, you can skip this one. If you didn't see the movie, just watch the movie. Wow, I never thought I would say that.

Yes, I loved reliving all the conning from the movie, but it just felt like I've heard it all before so I was uninterested. I've watched a lot of movies before reading the book they originated from, and I never felt this way before. I wanted to enjoy this book much more than I did, and I even stuck with it all the way through despite being overly disappointed.

Honestly, save yourself the time and just watch the movie. You'll be far more entertained.
Profile Image for David.
1,630 reviews105 followers
December 17, 2021
After seeing the movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks we had an opportunity to meet Frank Abagnale when he spoke at a function we attended. He is every bit as interesting to listen to in person as is reading about his personal story. He says in the book that the movie is about 80% accurate as some things, as is common in Hollywood, were left out or changed. He also explained (in person, not in the book) that after he started working with the FBI on improving security, he did eventually track down and reimburse almost all of his financial victims. But I felt that I got a much better understanding from reading the book than from the movie. It is sad that such a talented individual resorted to using his skills for illegal activities instead of applying them to a more productive purpose. There are many examples in society today such as hackers, con artists, etc. It does give us some facinating reading and movies. This was a quick, fun read that hooks you in early and then doesn't let go until the end. It reads like well written fiction.
Profile Image for Joy D.
1,897 reviews219 followers
October 2, 2020
This book is Frank W. Abagnale’s ghost-written memoir of his fraudulent activities from age 16 to 21 in the 1960s, primarily impersonating a pilot and cashing bad checks. It provides insights into how a con artist thinks. I have my reservations about believing the entire narrative without skepticism, as some of these episodes sound like “tall tales.” He offers no proof and there are no footnotes.

For me, this book is just ok. I would have enjoyed it more if it had not included so many demeaning references to women – it got tiresome. I am glad he turned his life around. I am also glad society has changed since the 1960s.
Profile Image for Carly.
839 reviews11 followers
October 31, 2009
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.)

When he was in his French jail cell...which was pretty gruesome, I admit, I didn't feel bad for him. Maybe I'm getting old, and crotchety, but he kept mentioning how much money he was stealing, and I kept thinking, who REALLY paid for that? Airline costs go up to cover it? Bank fees increase? Man, I'm an old fogey that I care about this stuff.

My recommendation: If you liked the book, leave it at that.
Profile Image for Tessa Nadir.
Author 3 books240 followers
March 1, 2022
"Alter ego-ul unui barbat nu este altceva decat imaginea sa preferata despre sine."
Romanul prezinta povestea reala a unuia dintre cei mai cautati falsificatori, pe numele sau Frank Abagnale - cunoscut si ca Frank Williams, Robert Conrad, Frank Adams sau Robert Monja. Acesta a fost cautat de politie in 27 de tari si de fortele de ordine din toate statele americane. Este genul de infractor tanar, inteligent, indraznet, cu norocul de partea sa, pe care n-ai cum sa nu-l simpatizezi. Memorabila ramane evadarea sa spectaculoasa de sub escorta FBI-ului din toaleta unui avion care aterizeaza.
Romanul debuteaza chiar cu momentul in care Frank Williams uziteaza de acte false si obtine un zbor gratuit spre Roma. El se da pilot al companiei aeriene Pan Am si este astfel asezat in cabina pilotilor pe scaunul de rezerva. La un moment dat acestia chiar ii dau controlul si il roaga sa piloteze. El nu mai facuse asta niciodata, insa cu ajutorul pilotului automat ii reuseste. Asta as numi eu combinatia ideala de 'cold-blood' si 'dumb-luck'.
Naratiunea se face la persoana intai si urmareste viata lui Frank Williams din copilarie, cand parintii lui divorteaza, apoi cu infaptuirea primei escrocherii, tepuindu-si tatal de 3400 de $, falsificarea actelor personale sau cecurile fara acoperire.
Fuge de acasa si mai apoi se da drept pilot, fabricandu-si singur legitimatia si licenta de zbor, iar cand lucrurile devin prea riscante se transforma in medic pediatru, trecand prin mai multe peripetii, ca mai apoi sa se dea drept avocat, falsificandu-si licenta in drept si surprinzator luand examenul de Barou.
Politia este pe urmele sale si trebuie sa dispara si de aici, dandu-se profesor de sociologie.
Urmeaza falsificarea de cecuri la modul profesionist peste hotare, in Europa.
Soseste momentul cand doreste sa se retraga din "activitate" si pleaca in Franta unde este arestat. Traieste niste luni de cosmar si groaza in inchisoare dar la transferul sau in America reuseste evadarea spectaculoasa din avion.
Romanul se termina cu o ultima lovitura data agentului O' Riley, cel care l-a urmarit pe tot parcursul cartii, pe care reuseste sa-l pacaleasca dandu-se la randul sau agent FBI.
Va recomand aceasta carte, mai ales pentru abilitatea extraordinara a lui Frank de a scapa, de a prinde ocazia favorabila, de a sti sa dispara cand lucrurile devin prea riscante, de a transforma ghinionul in noroc si de a actiona atunci cand acesta ii surade. Totusi, ne dam seama ca joaca cu focul si destinul este periculoasa iar cei mai buni sfarsesc uneori la inchisoare. Chiar si cele mai ingenioase inselatorii nu merg pana la nesfarsit. Realizam si faptul ca in ziua de azi toate aceste lucruri n-ar mai fi posibile. Este socanta buna credinta si credulitatea personajelor din carte in fata unei uniforme, unui cec, unei legitimatii sau a unor afirmatii spuse cu convingere.
Exista si o ecranizare "Catch me if you can" din 2002, ce-i are in rolurile principale pe supraevaluatii Leonardo di Caprio si Tom Hanks. Nu a fost insa suficient pentru a-i aduce primului mult ravnitul Oscar.
In incheiere recomand acest roman, este o lectura relaxanta, placuta si atasez cateva citate din care putem trage invataminte:
"Modestia nu este una dintre virtutile mele. Si chiar in acel moment, nici virtutea nu era una dintre calitatile mele."
"... dar asa sunt francezii, au tendinta de a exagera, supraevaluand totul, in cazul in care nu este vorba de femeile, vinul si arta lor."
"Ceea ce ma deranja cu adevarat era lipsa lor de stil. Am invatat inca de la o varsta frageda ca oriunde in lume esti apreciat daca ai clasa, stil."
"Frank, vei ajunge sa stii ca atunci cand esti sus se vor gasi cateva sute care sa te numeasca prieten. Cand ajungi jos, te poti numi norocos daca macar unul dintre ei iti cumpara o ceasca de cafea. Daca ar fi s-o iau de la capat, mi-as alege prietenii cu mai mare grija."
"Apoi am incercat sa-mi adorm constiinta cu binecunoscutele rationamente ale escrocului: daca oamenii erau suficient de prosti pentru a plati cecuri fara sa verifice, atunci chiar meritau sa fie trasi pe sfoara."
"Dar astfel am reusit sa invat un lucru, si anume ca o femeie poate fi incantatoare si daca isi pastreaza hainele pe ea."
Profile Image for Book Concierge.
2,768 reviews332 followers
January 4, 2018
Digital audio book narrated by Barrett Whitener.

Subtitle depends on the edition: The Amazing True Story of the Most Extraordinary Liar in the History of Fun and Profit! -or- The True Story Of a Real Fake.

Frank Abagnale began his career as a forger, check-kiter and con-man when he was just sixteen years old. His first victim was his own father. By the time he was twenty-one he had passed himself off as a pilot, a pediatrician, a lawyer, and a professor of sociology, and he had cashed over $2.5 million in forged checks. He was known by the police forces of every state in the U.S. as well as those in more than twenty foreign countries. He was arrested more than once, and even served some time in European prisons, but more often he charmed his way out of the situation, or pulled off a daring escape.

Why did he do this? He blamed it on “the ladies.” He was enamored of women, and he wanted to show them a good time.

It’s a fascinating memoir of his years of crime, full of daring escapades, humorous situations, and outlandish lies. Abagnale’s audacity is matched only by his charm. He was eventually captured, and did serve time, but he went on to become a world-renowned authority on counterfeiting and document security, working with the FBI’s Financial Crimes Unit.

Barrett Whitener does a fine job narrating the audio book. Great pacing and Abagnale’s charming personality shines through.

Profile Image for Tom Germain.
9 reviews2 followers
February 6, 2011
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 tell you! Also, it's amazing what a man will do just to bed women, which is what Abagnale says motivated him to lie, cheat and steal. I finished this book in two days, but I had never read anything that had so many expressions I wasn't familiar with or words that were used in an unexpected context (for example, he writes "abroad", but doesn't mean "in a foreign land"), as well as some curious inaccuracies (for ex, a "glide scope" isn't a light, as he claims), but that's the refreshing aspect of this book, as it feels authentic, as if Abagnale himself was speaking, sort of like Holden Caulfield in Catcher in the Rye!
5,289 reviews106 followers
September 9, 2020
3 Stars. Yes, it's a true story but it's dated in these days of cyber security, passwords, and video surveillance. The very personification of a rascal, Abagnale was a daring con-man who papered many a city with phony cheques. He had many an alias too, Frank Williams, Robert Conrad, Frank Adams, etc. with such fake occupations as pilot, pediatrician, lawyer and professor. It was a different time, 1963 to 1969 when he was 15 to 21 years old - long before most of the laxness and loopholes he exploited at banks, hotels, casinos and corporations like Pan Am Airlines, were closed. His audacity got him out of several scrapes; in one case he pretended to be an undercover inspector and persuaded his prison authorities to let him walk out the front door! In another, he used information he acquired as a "pilot" on the internal design of airplanes to avoid US police by escaping through a plane's toilet. My view? He was more lucky than good and it ran out in France, Sweden, Canada and the US. He eventually grew-up to become an advisor to governments and corporations on security matters. Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks starred in the 2002 movie! (May 2019)
Profile Image for Nina Ely.
49 reviews1 follower
April 25, 2013
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 own. To be fair, none of the men do, either (the author, a notorious con man, is unsurprisingly narcissistic) but the condescending "pretty girls" talk got wearing after awhile. And 2)It's pretty obvious there's a lot of exaggeration going on. This guy was passing bad checks, he wasn't James Bond. I believe he was bold and a lot of people gave him a pass because they thought he was an airline pilot, but it can't all have been glamour and no one gets hurt. The author makes a few glancing references to people who might have been fired for passing his checks, but I'd have liked a little more self-awareness that he was basically a common thief.

Otherwise, a nice nostalgia trip.
Profile Image for Sergio.
87 reviews
November 8, 2016
Few have ever really been fooled more than once in their lifetime. And Frank took advantage of that. He saw what the world was offering and cut his way to the top. Wow, prison life in Europe and still wanting more after that; he got what he wanted? He was a good freeloader. How long does it take to dismantle a plane? Frank knew that to get close to the cockpit, knowledge of any engine was thrown out the window. Thus making it an advantage for a common commuter to glide on the rails of the untrained eye.
Profile Image for Lauren Stoolfire.
3,568 reviews259 followers
November 30, 2019
Unbelievable! I had no idea until very recently that one of my favorite movies is based on a true story. While the book is incredible, I think I actually prefer seeing Leonardo DiCaprio and Steven Spielberg bringing Frank Abagnale's life to the big screen - and yes, for the most part the movie is quite historically accurate considering some of the changes made.

Profile Image for Lau .
650 reviews127 followers
September 25, 2019
«–Podrías estafar a tu propio padre, Frank. 
Ya lo hice.»

Qué decepción me llevé con este libro. Creí que iba a ser como la película, o incluso algo similar a la serie White Collar, pero la realidad fue otra y lo que encontré no me gustó.
Esta es una novela de crímenes reales, supuestamente basada en la vida de un estafador. El problema es que terminé por no creerle el 90% de lo que contaba. Sobre el otro 10%, espero de verdad que no sea cierto, porque sino Frank Abagnale ya se ganó una cálida parcelita en el infierno.
Estuve tan asqueada con este tipo que me negué a hacer la reseña durante dos semanas.

En realidad al principio me gustaba mucho, me parecía que estaba redactado de forma ingeniosa y hasta carismática. Me reía internamente porque estaba disfrutando más de lo que debería de las anécdotas de los crímenes, y en general él me resultaba simpático. Eso pronto cambiaría.

Al principio del libro hay un texto en el que nos resumen toda la historia. Y cuando digo toda, me refiero a toda. No habrá sorpresas a lo largo de la narración, porque ya desde la página uno sabemos que Frank se va a estafar a su propio padre (ahí ya no me simpatizó tanto), va a hacerse pasar por piloto de Pan Am, por médico, a comprometerse con una chica a la que también tiene engañada, a ir preso y luego de escaparse, acabar ayudando a la policía a capturar estafadores. Ya está, no habrá nada nuevo aparte de eso.

Él es básicamente un mujeriego, su motor son las mujeres (con las que es asquerosamente condescendiente y despectivo) y quiere conseguir dinero para poder frecuentarlas. Se auto descibre –o lo describe Stan Redding en realidad– como un hombre muy atractivo que aparenta más edad de la que tiene. Empieza desde muy chico con sus estafas haciéndose pasar por piloto de Pan Am, y su maravillosa apariencia hace que tenga un éxito arrasador con las mujeres.
No les voy a mentir, me dio curiosidad y fui a Google. Esperaba encontrar a alguien del aspecto del protagonista de White Collar, o con un cierto parecido a Di Caprio ya que lo representó en la película, pero me encontré con que en realidad Frank. W. Abagnale Jr se veía así:

Y entonces empecé a leer con bastante más escepticismo.
Que me disculpe, pero yo no le creo que haya tenido ese éxito que cuenta, ni que haya pasado por las sábanas de tantas mujeres hermosas (de quienes deja muy claro que ve como cuerpos o como posibilidades de alojamiento y nada más), o que haya tenido ese trío con las azafatas.

Igual eso sería lo de menos, aunque lo despectivo que es con las mujeres no me hizo gracia. Se refiere a ellas con términos muy, em, zoológicos, y por regla general asume que ninguna tiene neuronas.
Pero el verdadero problema para mí vino cuando se hizo pasar por médico. Porque no se conformó sólo con pasearse por el hospital y que le llamen Doctor (él siempre está buscando tener cargos de importancia donde la gente lo admire) sino que se hizo pasar por médico pediatra, y durante muchos meses dio el visto bueno a la salud de bebés recién nacidos sin tener ni idea de lo que hacía.
No fue hasta que uno se le puso azul que decidió que tenía que cambiar de estafa. ¿En serio?

Luego vuelve a hacerse pasar por piloto y a seguir narrándonos lo mismo. Viaja, frecuenta mujeres hermosas, cambia cheques falsos. A esta altura ya no le creía ni la mitad de lo que decía.
Se vuelve repetitivo y jactancioso bastante pronto. Una y otra y otra vez básicamente cuenta lo mismo. No hay lo que se dice un verdadero argumento acá, salvo pequeñas estafitas intercaladas cada taaaanto, de las que habla poco y que la mitad parece mentira. El resto es basicamente él viajando de una ciudad a otra vestido de piloto y cobrando cheques de Pan Am. Y no lo describe con mucho más detalle del que acabo de dar.

Además pronto se empieza a notar que también embaucó gente inocente, gente que es muy probable que haya perdido el empleo o tenido serios problemas para conservarlo.
Cuenta también un encuentro con unos agentes del FBI que sospechaban de él, con uno de los diálogos más mentirosos e improbables que he leido. Sería antinatural y mal escrito hasta como diálogo de ficción:

«"El agente del FBI sonrió y me dio su tarjeta.
–Llámeme– dijo –Especialmente si tiene una amiga hermosa.»

Por este entonces Frank Abagnale parece un Gary Stu al que la vida se le acomoda alrededor para que las cosas le salgan bien. O se encontró a todos los idiotas del mundo, las personas más confiadas y los empleados más ineficientes (porque él sinceramente no destaca por su inteligencia o estrategia), o acá miente a boca de jarro. También se contradice con unas cuantas cosas.
Todo es demasiado fácil por momentos. Siempre hay alguien cerca que JUSTO tiene una profesión que a él le sirve para su último problema. Todo huele a mentira, nadie revisa, nadie consulta.
Le gusta que la gente lo elogie cuando está con uno de sus "alteregos" y sin ellos se siente un trapo. El tipo es patético pero se cree un dios.

Llegando un punto estaba deseando que lo lleven preso. No podía esperar a que lo metieran en la cárcel.
Cuando ese glorioso momento finalmente llegó, para mí no fue otra cosa sino otra sarta de mentiras. La forma en que cuenta que lo tuvieron en la cárcel, disculpenme, me parece otra gigantesca exageración.
Además a esta altura intentaron que parezca una victima, cuando él hizo una trastada tras otra siendo muy consciente de lo que hacía.
El escape y el final vuelven a ser amenos como el principio, pero a esta altura ya era muy tarde.

Dice wikipedia que no se comprobaron las estafas que cuenta, también dice que Abagnale dijo que el escritor fantasma adornó mucho las historias. ¡No me digas!
También me dio la impresión de que trató de hacer algo similar al estilo de El guardián entre el centeno, novela que curiosamente empecé a leer a la vez que ésta. Si esa fue la intención, fracasó estrepitosamente.

La estafa, acá, es el libro.

Reseña de Libros junto al mar
Profile Image for Manisha.
514 reviews87 followers
October 30, 2017
Stop the presses! I'm about to state something I've never stated before.


Frank Abagnale is a genius. Really, he is. He is such a genius, that he does genius things with his genius brain.

Look, I have nothing against authors saying how intelligent their characters are (let's forget that Frank is real, for a bit). However, I do have an issue with the author constantly saying that same fact over and over, as if the very content of the book doesn't already show how intelligent the character is.

Unlike in the movie (I know, how dare I compare these two?), Frank is not a sympathetic character. This works against him, because I did want him to get caught.

And finally, the writing wasn't mature enough. The content was entertaining, but the writing felt out of place, as if it was written by a young boy who has lived a man's life. I understand that the book was in the first person's POV, and that the author was probably going for a young voice to make the character relatable. However, because the narration had the sense of being told by an older man, this felt wrong.

All in all, it could have been better.
Profile Image for Giselle.
1,057 reviews907 followers
April 5, 2016
True story of Frank Abangale's con artist ways. Really enjoyed it! Though the movie with Leo was great too, I loved knowing how the real Frank came to be.
Profile Image for Emily Ross.
1,085 reviews23 followers
December 24, 2017
This was the real life story of Frank Abagnale Jr. one of America's best con men. Having successfully passed as a pilot, a doctor, a lawyer and a lecturer in order to pass forged cheques. It seems rather incredible reading about it, that this was able to happen, but he seems to have helped to have improved security and anti-forgery since his release from prison.

I found the book quite difficult to read and it kinda just ends? It was very abrupt, and I think it would have been better if there had been a proper epilogue rather than a Q&A with Abagnale. I also think I struggled with the book because I was expecting it to be more like the musical or the film, and it really wasn't.
Profile Image for Nat.
103 reviews1 follower
August 17, 2014
I understand now why the movie was based from the FBI Agent's POV. This Abagnale guy is an obnoxious, self-centered, sexist, smug pig and I felt in need of a shower just reading his thoughts. The story itself is interesting and saves the book. Barely.
Profile Image for Patricija || book.duo.
534 reviews366 followers
September 26, 2020

Žiūrint filmus ir serialus, skaitant knygas ar tiesiog sekant viešą diskursą (ypač visokias televizijos laidas) šita tema, dažnai tenka susidurti su nusikaltimų idealizavimais. O aš tik labai stengdamasi, bet ir tai sunkiai galiu suprasti norą klausytis pezalų apie tai, kad nusikaltėlis, nepaisant to, kad darė baisius dalykus, iš esmės buvo geeeras žmuogus. Ir kačiukus mylėjo, ir mamą gerbė, ir šiaip tik aplinkybės šūdinai sukrito. Nieko panašaus šioje knygoje nėra ir ačiū Dievui. Dėliodamas savo gyvenimo pasiekimus vieną šalią kito, piešdamas arogantiško sukčiaus (tačiau vis tiek tik sukčiaus) portretą Frankas nesiima savęs teisinti nei tėvų skyrybomis, nei kitais skausmingais gyvenimo įvykiais. Tiesa, yra keli Robino Hudo tipo nukrypimai (iš paprasto žmuogaus aš niekada nevogiau!!!!), bet apart to – smagus, neidealizuotas, tobulai mano skaitymo bloką pramušęs pramoginis skaitaliukas.

Labiausiai džiuginęs knygos aspektas, apart to, kad ji skaitosi greitai, lengvai ir linksmai, yra tai, jog pasakotojas nė akimirkai neužsimiršta, kad nebuvo nei pilotu, nei gydytoju, nei teisininku. Frankas geru savęs nelaiko ir tai – malonus, net šiek tiek netikėtas jo sąmoningumas. Kad ir ką pasakotų, autorius vis pabrėžia, jog yra ne kas kitas, o tiesiog sukčius, vagis ir machinatorius. Jis gilinasi į savo savivertės problemas, į paranoją, į kaklą alsuojančią baimę, ant kulnų lipančią paniką, o nors toli gražu nėra elgsenos ekspertas, gana įdomiai perteikia savo pojūčius, dar kartą įrodydamas, kad gyvenimas, nors ir linksmas, pilnas sekso, pinigų ir prabangos, tuo pat metu buvo liūdnas, vienišas, persmelktas gėda, permerktas šaltu prakaitu ir vienkartiniais santykiais, neparemtais niekuo, kas buvo tikra. Įdomiausia tai, kad net jų nežinodamas, Frankas pagrindžia seniausias kriminologijos teorijas apie delinkventus – ypač jaunus, dar tik besiformuojančius. Jis kalba apie azartą, bet leidžia suprasti ir tai, kad nuėjus netinkamu keliu kelias atgal atrodo dar labiau gąsdinantis, nei kad stūmimasis į priekį – padėtis be išeities. Bet nei leidžiasi į filosofinius išvedžiojimus, nei bando pasirodyti geresniu nei yra – jis seksistas, jis vagis, jis tiesiog ne toks žmogus, kurio kelyje norėtum pasipainioti – kad ir kas bebūtum.

Ir nors turiu pripažinti, kad filmas, matytas kelias dešimtis kartų vaikystėje ir paauglystėje, yra kur kas labiau džiuginantis nei knyga, bent jau pramoginiu, veikėjų plėtojimo ir tiesiog kokybiniu aspektu, jis idealizuoja Franko gyvenimą šiek tiek labiau, nei kad knyga. Smagu ir tai, kad net mintinai mokėdama kiekvieną Leonardo ir Tomo žingsnį legendinėse 2002-ųjų metų gaudynėse, knygoje radau ne tik itin sąmoningą autoriaus požiūrį į savo veiksmus, bet ir smulkmenų, kurios filmo kūrėjų liko praleistos ar pakeistos.
September 5, 2019
Well that was very entertaining! I’m not sure I believe half of it, but if even half is true it’s still quite a tale. It was fun to go along for the ride, however exaggerated.

If you’re not familiar with the story, in the 1960s Frank Abignale Jr went on a crime spree of amazing creativity and daring. He posed as an airline pilot, a doctor, a lawyer, and a college professor; all the while passing fraudulent checks and racking up a small fortune. Even more amazing, he pulled all this off while he was still a teenager.

The "real" Frank Abagnale as portrayed in this book was quite arrogant and a bit unlikeable. The book has a photo of him as an older man and he reminds me a bit of Henry Winkler, which is funny because young Frank has a Fonzie-like affect on women: he snaps his finger and they come running. But overall this was a quick and enjoyable read. I can’t wait to rewatch the movie now.
Profile Image for Kris - My Novelesque Life.
4,642 reviews190 followers
June 8, 2020

Before I went to see the movie by the same name, I saw a 48 Hours or maybe Dateline....or maybe even, 20/20 (true crime TV series) episode on this case. It really intrigued me. This young conman was able to dupe so many people, and elude the law for so many years. He was able to become a pilot and a doctor! I bought my copy from work (book store) and read it really quickly. I really liked this book. I just ate it up in one sitting. It was a fun read, and for once I was rooting for the "bad guy". It is funny and most unbelievable story you will hear. I am not sure how much of it is real, or Frank being Frank "the great conman," but as a story it is great! (Side note: I enjoyed the movie as well).
Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,945 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.