Marks, Ropers and Insidemen

The Big ConRight now, I’m halfway through reading “The Big Con,” originally published in 1940, and a major source of inspiration for movies like “The Sting” and, reportedly, the playwright, screenwriter and director David Mamet. The book’s author, David Maurer, was a linguist, but his investigation of the lingo of con men led him to write this engrossing account of marks, ropers, insidemen and the bizarro reality of the big confidence games. It reads like part historical account, part how-to manual,and part hard-boiled fiction.