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Confessions of a Master Jewel Thief

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  838 ratings  ·  103 reviews
The extraordinarily captivating memoir of the remarkable jewel thief who robbed the rich and the famous while maintaining an outwardly conventional life—an astonishing and completely true story, the like of which has never before been told . . . or lived.

Bill Mason is arguably the greatest jewel thief who ever lived. During a thirty-year career he charmed his way into the
Paperback, 384 pages
Published April 12th 2005 by Villard (first published 2004)
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Robin Gay Yes, meat, potatoes, wine and candlelight. This is not story about a jewel thief as much as it is about an intelligent adrenaline junkie that loves…moreYes, meat, potatoes, wine and candlelight. This is not story about a jewel thief as much as it is about an intelligent adrenaline junkie that loves his wife and family. After reading about Bill Mason, I found myself wishing to aspire to his level of dedication to life, love and labor. However, if you are looking for information about the craft of burglary, this book has that , too.(less)

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Average rating 3.83  · 
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 ·  838 ratings  ·  103 reviews

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Sep 18, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I came across this book while weeding our non-fiction collection. Confessions of a Master Jewel Thief hadn’t circulated in a few years but I hated to relegate it our book sale so decided to take it home and give it a read. I have to admit, the title intrigued me. You’ve got to wonder why an honest, god-fearing woman, would be fascinated with a book about stealing other people’s valuables. The author explains this as our American Culture. Just look at a film like The Godfather. Weren’t you ...more
Jun 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of nonfiction
Recommended to Kirsti by: impulse buy
"Nothing works more in a thief's favor than people feeling secure. That's why places that are heavily alarmed and guarded can sometimes be the easiest targets. The single most important factor in security--more than locks, alarms, sensors or armed guards--is attitude. A building protected by nothing more than a cheap combination lock but inhabited by people who are alert and risk-aware is much safer than one with the world's most sophisticated alarm system whose tenants assume they're living in ...more
Feb 02, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A bit of disappointment. I read A Burglar's Guide to the City a couple of years ago, and that author references this book when talking about lines of sight and the easiest ways to break into spaces, and how that often has more to do with weak points in a building (and within people's imaginations) than it does any real skill, other than cold read and opportunism. Mason has an interesting skill set and one that is rarefied (perception, upper body strength, building & infrastructure ...more
Dec 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
Sometimes the most direct past isn't the easy path. This is the heart of this nonfiction novel. Bill Mason was one of the best and most successful master jewel thieves of all time. He stole from the likes of Phillis Diller, Truman Capote, and the mafia themselves. At some point his hobby became an obsession and eventually led to his downfall. Recommended tome by my brother, this book is a great easy read and the storytelling ability of the author is excellent.
May 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-club
True story. I loved this book. . .very entertaining. Bill Mason didn't need to steal for money. He had a good income and a happy family life. But, he was an adrenaline junky and he risked everything for his fix.
Jan 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
So fun and pretty well written, for a jewel thief.
Feb 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A great read about a jewel thief and the many famous people he robbed.
W.  Frazier
On the plus side this book is decently written and has a fluid and engaging format. It sets up the autobiographical narrative of jewel thief Bill Mason quite well. The stories are interesting and give some insight into criminal opportunities. However, in the diminished believability column, the timeline has a lot of gaps and conveniently supports the author’s breezy and self-centered factual mindset. The book tries to insert a fun element, but if you have ever personally been burglarized (I ...more
Feb 23, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very interesting book and I learned a few things about how to avoid being burglarized, but it never really explained to me how/why someone becomes such a hardened criminal. He is a bit of a braggart about his successful scores and his daring escapades--that was okay, but I never saw any real for his crimes other than lip service. He even acknowledged using his stash of stolen gems like a savings account when he needed money after he had left the life. I liked the book, but I didn't ...more
Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I have given this book 5 stars based on my impressions of it as a 15 year old reader. This was one of the first books of non fiction that I read at that age that were not required reading for school. I remember being impressed with the writing and how conversational it felt. I was amazed to find a non fiction book that was written in the style of the fiction books I read.
Richard Sampson
Aug 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone
Really great book and that's coming from someone who struggles to read biographies/autobiographies. Great sense of storytelling and not afraid of self-reflection and self-deprecation in turn.
Mar 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Exciting tales of true crime mixed with an interesting perspective on the flaws of the legal system.
Oct 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
Started off great, but too much of the book revolved around the surrounding legal trouble of the author.
Zoe Blake
Nov 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime-resources
One of the most amusing aspects of this book is the author's marvelously cavalier attitude. Contains fabulous details of all his crimes and capers. Loved it.
Stuart Hodge
May 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
frank and matter-of-fact but still fascinating account of a master jewel thief. kinda amazing how he got away with so much of it for so long
Jun 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The house next to my mother's was robbed. Then the spare house (not as glamorous as it seems; he inherited it from a recently deceased family member) of one of my friends was robbed. Then I interrupted a robbery at the house of my boss. This isn't over a large period of time; this took place in the same week. This all piqued my interest and sent me to Reddit - home of anecdotal evidence on the internet - to learn how to make a home a thief deterrent.

It was in sifting through a smash-and-grab AMA
Oct 20, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012, non-fiction
I really love heist movies. I'm pretty sure that's what drew me to this book in the first place, and in that respect, it didn't disappoint. The first half of the book describes a number of Mason's scores in delightful detail. Within the first few pages, he describes inching along a narrow ledge on the outside of a building to get the target patio, and you really do feel like you're hanging right there with him. The others are just as suspenseful and meticulously laid out. Good times.

The second
May 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I picked this book up at the used bookstore that went out of business in July. Near the end of their run, they had a bag sale ~ you were handed a paper grocery bag when you entered the bookstore and everything you managed to fit into the bag was only $5. Their stock was pretty well picked over by that time, but no way was I leaving without a full bag. This book caught my eye and I snatched it up, but because I have run out of shelf space in my apartment, it's been sitting on top of the bag ever ...more
Jun 25, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okay, confession. I always wanted to be a jewel thief. Well, as a kid. You know most kids of my generation wanted to be astronauts or firemen or cops or president of the untied states of arugula, but I wanted to be Alexander Mundy. He was a jewel and art thief, the original "White Collar" character, long before Neil Caffrey (Matt Bomer) was ever born. Played by Robert Wagner he was suave, sophisticated, cool, and a thief. Well, truthfully, I wanted to be his father, Alistair Mundy, played by ...more
G.R. Williamsom
Jul 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bill Mason's story as a master "night man" thief is a fascinating read. The man had an uncanny ability to track and analyze his targets - rich celebrities. He was truly a self taught burglar, knocking off his first score when was a newlywed.

Over the years, he planned and executed jewel robberies from numerous celebrities, all the while maintaining an image of a successful family man.

He details his methods, his acquired skills, his major scores, and his mis-fires. At the same time, he introduces
Larry Hostetler
Feb 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
It wasn't too long into the book I realized I had already read it, but since it was the only book I took with me on the trip I decided to re-read it. I found it engaging, a quick read, and this time more than the first time through I found myself noticing the quirks of nature (or nurture - still debated) that created the character who would live such a double life. Is it addiction or something else?

Upon my return home I gave it to my wife to read (a mental health professional) thinking it might
Amy Chamberlain
Nov 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Fun read. I especially liked his re-telling of the incredible robberies he pulled off. He was meticulous and careful and planned for months, which is how he got away with his crimes for so long. There's a lesson there, kids! Whether you choose a life or crime or not, planning and hard work will get you what you want!

It went off the rails for me a bit during the last half, where he focuses more on his ongoing, and increasingly nasty, battles with law enforcement. He says he's reformed, but he
Dec 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed the true story of Bill Mason. He gives us a tell-all behind his career as a criminal and all the characters he comes across. He also shows us the thought process he goes through and his obsession of the properly planned and executed heist. It isn't until later he truly realizes that his family is the biggest treasure he has and how he took them for granted. Bill Mason gives us a real entertaining book in Confessions of a Master Jewel Thief without coming across as cocky or ...more
Nov 09, 2011 rated it liked it
It took me a while to finish this one, mainly because I kept getting distracted by other books. This is an interesting tale of an actual "cat burglar." I liked the book because Bill Mason (the thief) related not only his "jobs" but also his every day life that surrounded his occasional heists. He explored his motivation for stealing without trying to excuse his actions. He also shared his jobs that never came to fruition. (It was particularly interesting that he tried to rob Bob Hope and ...more
This guy had some nerve. Some of the people he stole from were pretty unexpected, and the amount that he stole, and the ways that he would find to steal jewels...the man knew his craft. Thieving isn't glorified here, though. You really see what happens when you keep going down that path. But before it gets there, it's pretty interesting to see the different work-arounds that people can come up with. If there's one thing that I can appreciate, it's creativity.
It's only a book about thievery, so I
Erin Phelps
Nov 18, 2007 rated it really liked it
Jewel thievery is one of my personal interests - I think it stems from The Great Muppet Caper, actually - and I think that if I someday have to turn to a life of crime, this is the route I'd take - it's so sophisticated and you get to wear all black (plus gloves) and its rarely violent and there's all those gadgets. SO, that is what drew me to this book. The first half is all about how Bill Mason got drawn into stealing jewelery and how he lived a normal life, mostly. This was very interesting. ...more
Caren Lamblin
Oct 27, 2012 marked it as to-read
I stumbled on this book completely by chance in a used book shop and was intrigued by the back cover alone... When I walked out with it under my arm a half hour later I was almost 20 pages in without realizing I had been so engrossed.

Unfortunately I had to move before I finished it and it wound up in the wrong box packed away for far too long. I have thought about it often in the intervening years and often think this book is partly to blame for my fascination with the show "White Collar" on
Jul 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was a fascinating book about a master jewel thief and the methods he used to break in and steal jewelry from rich people. He robbed Robert Goulet, Armand Hammer, Phyliss Diller twice, Bob Hope, Truman Capote, Marqaux Hemingway, and Johnny Weissmuller. Just to say I think he was a criminal for sure. But what was amazing to me was how complacent even rich people are thinking their high powered guarded buildings cannot be roobed and a lot of them left thier patio door unlocked and left jewelry ...more
I give parts of this book 2.5 stars. IT seemed to d....r....a.....g along in the middle. Frankly-there are a lot of flashbacks and flashforwards (anyone remember the movie Funny Farm when she reads his book and talks about that?) well parts of this book reminded me of that. Honestly I got a bit confused at certain parts and it was pretty irritating.

The story however-his history of being a great jewel thief-saved this book from a 1star review. I don't want to give spoilers but loved the part
Josh Smith
Jun 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was captivating. I found the first 25% of the book to be much more exciting than the rest. It's a memoir in every sense of the word. It details his relationships and struggles as he committed his crimes. Much of the focus of this book was about his friends and family. The reasons he hopped into the lifestyle and the reasons he stayed. If your interest is in a book that just centers around theft then you may enjoy this. IF you're more interested in getting a complete picture of the lifestyle ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Just About Everything Wrong with This Book 4 28 Jul 17, 2013 12:10PM  

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