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

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  1,386 ratings  ·  158 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
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published June 11th 2009 by Gotham
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really liked it Average rating 4.00  · 
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Paul Childs
Jul 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, biography
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
Jan 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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.
May 16, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
When I brought home this audiobook, my husband was excited that I was tapping into my entrepreneurial side. I laughed and said, that it wasn't about that kind of making money. It was about counterfeiting. He just said, "Oh."

This was a solid 4 stars for me. It was not boring at all. I loved the slight humor that was written into this. Art's story was fascinating. So why did I give this 3 stars and not 4? It was because of the audio performance. The reader did a good job, until he started butcheri
John Hood
Dec 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 10, 2012 rated it it was ok
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 likable p
Jul 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jan 10, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Nov 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
I like the writing style. Very engaging character driven storyline.
Michael Hames
Jul 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was a great book and very interesting look at the life of a counterfeiter, how he got started, how he went about defeating the security mechanisms of the US dollar bill and some of the things you wouldn’t even think about with respect to moving the counterfeit bills.

Highly recommended.
Jul 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
loved it , while you can't justify what he did , he was pretty successful and suffered a lot , made me appreciate my life more
Fab Mackojc
Jan 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
A neat story about the guy who managed to counterfeit the 1996 new $100 US note.
Carlos Mendoza
Aug 06, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 15, 2009 rated it liked it
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.
Dec 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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.
Sep 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
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.
Dec 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
could not put this down till after finished all of it.. epilogue is spooky
May 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
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 bipolar mother lost her wits, and Williams found himself living in one of Chicago's worst housing projects. He took to crime
Sean Hong
Jan 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Autobiography was very interesting due to the reality of the story told. The book follows the real life of Arthur Williams, who becomes one of the best counterfeiters known to be. The story takes place in Bridgeport, one of the worst neighborhoods in Chicago due to gang violence. One day, Arthur finds out the underground process of counterfeiting through his mother's boyfriend, and the rest is history. The story was interesting to me due to the fact that most of the story is based on reality ...more
May 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
Overall I enjoyed reading the book. I think counterfeiting & the Secret Service are interesting topics to explore. This book goes in depth into the life of Art Williams, Jr. An exploration of what drew him to crime that leads to a page turning book.

HOWEVER - I really had trouble with the writing. Every chapter seemed to end with - "And everything seemed to be going great...or so he thought!" Dun dun dun. A lot of melodramatic lines & voiceover type narration were added; which seemed incongruous
Henry Fosdike
Jun 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Counterfeiters, con artists, heists… There is just something about these worlds that draw me in. This particular tale concerns a man who was drawn into a life of crime by his somewhat irregular and unfortunate upbringing, taken under the wing of a counterfeiter and from there set out on his own to truly master forging the US dollar. The tale concerns his exploits primarily during the late nineties when the US had added watermarks and paper that could be tested by a simple brush of a pen. It’s hu ...more
Conrad Mason
Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Such a good read with so many twists and turns. Loved the history behind the main character Art as it really helped to give some insight into why people turn to a criminal life. The book is much more than just about how Art counterfeited millions of dollars, it is also about his personal and criminal relationships. I didnt think this book would include the mafia and many other underworld characters.

This book was in some parts similar to the story of Frank Abignail in the book (and movie) Catch m
Sue-Lynn Voigt
Feb 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: ccc-book-club
This was a good book and a fast read. Although you know where the ending is going, the ride was fascinating. I learned much about counterfeiting and Secret Service history I did not know. This story, which I believe started out as a Rolling Stine article, gives the full picture of Art's life. It does not gloss of the bad and ugly parts. You also know the good is not going to last long. I would recommend this to anyone. The story is a spiral of dysfunction, but it is honest in its presentation an ...more
Steve Perrie
Jan 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Amazing story. The profile of the man and the details of his craft were well displayed. It held my attention cover to cover. I would have preferred if it had been written, or ghost written, in first person rather than in the style of a news article, with quoted interruptions from side characters. But that's a very minor pick in an incredible book.
Feb 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was so so good. I love that it read like a magazine article, but a long one that I couldnt put down. I love that it's a true story, and Kerston answered all of my questions beginning to end; I had nothing to wonder after turning the final page. Jason Kerston will definitely grace my tbr pile and I only hope he keeps writing!
Dec 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
There's something about good crime novels and stories about master criminals that always make you sympathize with the criminal in someway and root for them. This is one of those stories. Kersten managed to capture Art Williams Jr.'s life quite beautifully from the emotions to the artistic expertise. A fascinating read.
Ronnie Cramer
Feb 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Since it's been almost ten years since this book came out, I decided to read it again. There was a lot I'd forgotten (like how the first quarter is devoted to the subject's crappy childhood), so for the most part I got to enjoy it all over again. It's sad and fascinating on several levels.
Linda Sullivan
Mar 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Interesting read about a criminal and his struggle to perfect the perfect $100 bill. If he hadn't been abandoned, poor, & raised in a bad neighborhood, he could have accomplished most anything with his brains & tenacity. ...more
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