Wednesday, January 04, 2012


It's been quite a while since I've mentioned books that might interest you, so let's remedy that immediately.

First we have The Man in the Rockefeller Suit: The Astonishing Rise and Spectacular Fall of a Serial Imposter, which is one of the best studies of human nature I've read in years. Here's a description from the Amazon product page:
The story of Clark Rockefeller is a stranger-than-fiction twist on the classic American success story of the self-made man-because Clark Rockefeller was totally made up. The career con man who convincingly passed himself off as Rockefeller was born in a small village in Germany. At seventeen, obsessed with getting to America, he flew into the country on dubious student visa documents and his journey of deception began.

Over the next thirty years, boldly assuming a series of false identities, he moved up the social ladder through exclusive enclaves on both coasts-culminating in a stunning twelve-year marriage to a rising star businesswoman with a Harvard MBA who believed she'd wed a Rockefeller.

The imposter charmed his way into exclusive clubs and financial institutions-working on Wall Street, showing off an extraordinary art collection-until his marriage ended and he was arrested for kidnapping his daughter, which exposed his past of astounding deceptions as well as a connection to the bizarre disappearance of a California couple in the mid-1980s.

The story of The Man in the Rockefeller Suit is a probing and cinematic exploration of an audacious imposer-and a man determined to live the American dream by any means necessary.

What makes this story so fascinating is the willingness, even eagerness, of people to believe. Not just socialites, but employers, government officials--hell, everyone wanted to believe they were in the presence of a Rockefeller. And even before the Rockefeller con, there were others that were almost as impressive.

It's a strange, strange story, and told very well.

Next we have Fab: An Intimate Life of Paul McCartney. Yes, I know--George Harrison is, by far, my favorite Beatle--but I find that reading about Paul McCartney is far more interesting than listening to his solo music. This is an excellent read, filled with little tidbits (origins of many Beatles songs, for example) that I haven't seen elsewhere. This also isn't a whitewash--it's very frank about McCartney's shortcomings and limitations, as well as discussing his virtues. There is also a thorough discussion of his time with the Beatles, which is tremendously interesting, as well as his life after he left the band (including his marriage to Heather Mills, which will have you shaking your head in disbelief). All in all, an excellent read.

Another musical biography is When Giants Walked the Earth: A Biography of Led Zeppelin, which is an exhaustive look at Led Zeppelin. The product page describes this book as "unflinching", and that is a fair assessment. It's also quite fascinating, and I believe it qualifies as the definitive biography of the band. If you are interested in rock music, even if you have never been particularly interested in Led Zeppelin, then this is a must-read, and if you are already a fan of Led Zeppelin, just get it immediately.

Finally, there is Sex on the Moon: The Amazing Story Behind the Most Audacious Heist in History. It's by Ben Mezrich, who writes books that I describe as potato chips--extremely tasty and briefly filling.

It's the story of a NASA intern who decides to steal some moon rocks, and like all Mezrich books, it's a page turner. If you're tired of plowing through weightier tomes, consider this the perfect palate cleanser--light and refreshing.

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