Catch Me If You Can

Catch Me If You Can

Downloadable Audiobook - 2001
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Frank W. Abagnale's, alias Frank Williams, Robert Conrad, Frank Adams, and Robert Monjo, was one of the most daring con-men, forgers, imposters, and escape artists in history. In his brief but notorious criminal career, Abagnale donned a pilot's uniform and copiloted a Pan Am jet, masqueraded as the supervising resident of a hospital, practiced law without a license, passed himself off as a college sociology professor, and cashed over $2.5 million in forged checks, all before he was twenty-one. Known by the police of twenty-six foreign countries and all fifty states as "The Skywayman," Abagnale lived a sumptuous life on the lam, until the law caught up with him. Now recognized as the nation's leading authority on financial foul play, Abagnale is a charming rogue whose hilarious, stranger-than-fiction international escapades and ingenious escapes, including one from an airplane, make Catch me if you can an irresistible tale of deceit.
Publisher: [Ashland, Or.] : Blackstone Audiobooks, 2001
ISBN: 9780786136322
0786136324
Branch Call Number: DOWNLOADABLE AUDIOBOOK
Characteristics: digital,stereo
Additional Contributors: Whitener, Barrett 1960-
Redding, Stan
Notes: Unabridged
Title from: Title details screen
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GCPL_Angela Jul 01, 2017

Chose this on a whim to listen to on my commute, and enjoyed it.

As a master con-artist, Frank Abagnale should probably be considered as the consummate "unreliable narrator." That said, I found myself rooting for him nonetheless, all the while remaining aware that he is crafting the story to his advantage -- and some events do not ring true; one escape in particular was almost certainly impossible. Unfortunately, coming as it does near the end of the book, it rather leaves a bad taste in the mouth -- was the whole story a con? We understand, of course, that much of it MUST be true, as there is ample evidence to back it up -- but how much else is embellished? How much is downright fiction? Only Frank Abagnale knows. He has bested us -- again!

I will say (or maybe, warn) that the chapter regarding Frank's prison term in France is an extremely jarring shift in tone. The reader (or listener, in my case) has been enjoying a freewheeling caper of international delights, and to go from that to the abject misery and difficult-to-stomach descriptions of this chapter is a buzz kill of the highest order. I actually turned off the recording on several occasions during this chapter and switched to some peppy music to keep from getting too bogged down. Frank's time in Perpignan, if described accurately, makes Edmond Dantès time at Château d'If look like a stay at the Ritz Carlton in comparison.

This audio version ends abruptly. Frank escapes from the police yet again, and that's it. I had to go to Amazon to read the Afterword, which I see is included in the newer versions of the book. It provides a bit of closure that was sorely lacking from the audio, but even still, there are not a lot of answers here. What reflections does Frank have on his life of crime? How has he grown or redeemed himself in his adulthood -- or has he? We get some small sense of why Frank started down this path -- clearly he was a brilliant youth who was, more than anything, bored, egotistical, and looking for a challenge. But who is he now? What lessons did he learn? You won't find those answers here. Yes, the print version has a brief "Q&A" with Abagnale at the end of the book, but the answers are cursory and not particularly illuminating.

Take this book for what it is (aside from the quite horrifying chapter on French prison): an amusing, mostly(?)-true, somewhat-fantastic frolic of cons and capers. Don't go in expecting much more than that, and you'll come away mostly pleased.

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