Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Catch Me If You Can by Frank Abagnale

I grabbed this as part of a mixup at work. A fellow had requested this book, came in to pick it up, and it turned out he wanted the movie. So I grabbed the book. I know I have seen the movie but I remember nothing about it outside of the fun theme song.

Having read the book, it's no wonder I don't remember the movie. I don't know how exactly you make a movie out of this without taking a lot of liberties. Abagnale was a con man but not a very interesting one. He was handsome, apparently looked a lot older than he actually was, and was able to dupe people, largely by producing fake documents. Most of his cons involved flying for free and writing bad checks with an occasional getting to play grown up here and there.

Writing bad checks and making fake checks was his primary con. Get rid of that and you have a guy who pretended to be a pilot so that he could travel for free ("deadheading"), taking advantage of airlines perks for flight personnel. Once he got busted for that, he pretended to have gone to law school to land a job as an attorney. He eventually passed the bar and practiced law briefly which says more about the profession, I think, than Abagnale. He also pretended to be a doctor but worked off hours and let residents handle any actual medical work.

He eventually got caught and spent some time in prison in a few countries. When he finally was turned over to the U.S., he negotiated a lighter sentence in exchange for helping government agencies fight against the same practices he had done.

I just couldn't appreciate his cleverness if there was any. Abagnale is very egotistical in the book. He repeatedly talks about how he would never hurt individuals, even as he often did. I didn't find him interesting at all. As I said, I don't remember enough about the movie to say anything about it but don't recommend the book at all.

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