It’s tempting to say that The Mark Inside reads like a historical novel, but really it’s more like a great heist film. Amy Reading entertains while explaining why all Americans—from Ben Franklin to Bernie Madoff—are part trickster and part sucker.
Scott A. Sandage, author of Born Losers
Part page-turning crime drama, part juicy tale of vengeance and obsession, part informative social history, and part intriguing epistemological rumination about literary truth, Amy Reading’s The Mark Inside is always great fun. From the first page Ms. Reading hooks the reader as shrewdly as any of the bunco men she writes about—only she makes good on this enticement, delivering narrative gold.
Howard Blum, best-selling author of The Floor of Heaven and American Lightning
An uproarious history of the con game in America.
Asbury Park Press
Reading is surely the only member of that Yale doctoral class who published one paragraph in which appear the words “red light district,” “whorehouses,” “fistful of checks,” “scheme,” “goddamn fool,” “tore the room apart,” and “brothel” (twice!). This is an achievement of some note, and someone should alert the alumni magazine immediately. And though Reading makes a show of citing swindler biographies and swindler autobiographies, this is, despite her valiant efforts, less a scholarly study than a ripping good read, a look at the near-noir of American life a century ago.
With pitch-perfect storytelling and stylish prose, Amy Reading weaves a gripping tale of a grand swindle and even grander act of revenge, a solo manhunt throughout North America that’s as hilarious as it is compelling. Rarely has history been this fun, fast-paced, and fulfilling. The Mark Inside is a book you won’t put down and a story you’ll never forget.
Karen Abbott, New York Times best-selling author of American Rose and Sin in the Second City
An astonishing story of one victim’s determined quest to bring down a ring of swindling confidence men. We have rigged fights, fake stock exchanges, gun battles, jailbreaks, a hardy Texan, an honest dentist and a righteous DA. Here’s early twentieth-century capitalism—a great humbug run by the ghost of a grinning P.T. Barnum.
Ann Fabian, author of Card Sharps and Bucket Shops
This account of con artists and obsessive revenge is replete with dramatic twists and turns. . . . [and] vibrant characterizations. . . . This narrative of vigilante justice flows like fiction, as con artistry is illuminated throughout, with resonance in today’s world of high-tech con artistry.