The Autobiography of a Thief

The Autobiography of a Thief by Hutchins Hapgood

The Autobiography of a Thief by Hutchins Hapgood

I met the ex-pickpocket and burglar whose autobiography follows soon after his release from a third term in the penitentiary. For several weeks I was not particularly interested in him. He was full of a desire to publish in the newspapers an exposé of conditions obtaining in two of our state institutions, his motive seeming partly revenge and partly a very genuine feeling that he had come in contact with a systematic crime against humanity. But as I continued to see more of him, and learned much about his life, my interest grew; for I soon perceived that he not only had led a typical thief’s life, but was also a man of more than common natural intelligence, with a gift of vigorous expression… I therefore proposed to him to write an autobiography. He took up the idea with eagerness, and through the entire period of our work together, has shown an unwavering interest in the book and very decided acumen and common sense. The method employed in composing the volume was that, practically, of the interview. From the middle of March to the first of July we met nearly every afternoon, and many evenings, at a little German café on the East Side. There, I took voluminous notes, often asking questions, but taking down as literally as possible his story in his own words; to such a degree is this true, that the following narrative is an authentic account of his life, with occasional descriptions and character-sketches of his friends of the Under World. Even without my explicit assurance, the autobiography bears sufficient internal evidence of the fact that, essentially, it is a thief’s own story.

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The Fall River Tragedy

The Fall River Tragedy by Edwin H. Porter

The Fall River Tragedy by Edwin H. Porter

The story of how Lizzie Borden supposedly murdered her parents has passed into American folklore, partly thanks to the albeit inaccurate playground rhyme, “Lizzie Borden took an axe, and gave her mother 40 whacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave her father 41.” Here we have the ‘true’ story, as reported by the local police reporter who attended the trial and lived only streets away from the Borden home with his young wife. After the trial, Porter ‘disappeared’ and it was widely speculated he had either been murdered or bribed to disappear in order to suppress the book. His reappearance some time later put paid to the first theory. After his death at age 39 from tuberculosis, a new theory emerged, that he had been away for treatment while keeping his illness secret. Meanwhile, the trial itself was noteworthy for several reasons: it was one of the first to be followed by nationwide press, providing a template for today’s tabloid and cable coverage of major trials; it also had some distinguished personnel: one of the prosecutors, Frank Moody, later became the attorney general of the United States and was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Theodore Roosevelt; and Borden’s defense attorney, George Robinson, was the former governor of Massachusetts. The appearance of Professor Wood of Harvard University was an early use of an expert witness at trial.

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Savrola

Savrola by Winston Churchill

Savrola by Winston Churchill

Savrola: A Tale of the Revolution in Laurania is the only major fictional work of Sir Winston S. Churchill. The story describes events in the capital of Laurania, a fictional European state, as unrest against the dictatorial government of president Antonia Molara turns to violent revolution. – Summary by Wikipedia

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Martin Guerre

Martin Guerre by Alexandre Dumas

Martin Guerre by Alexandre Dumas

Martin Guerre was a French peasant that, during a long absence, was famously impersonated in the 16th century. Although the real Martin Guerre is suspected of no serious crimes, his imposter, Arnaud du Tilh, engaged in fraud and adultery while pursuing false claims to the Guerre inheritance. Dumas later incorporates this celebrated crime into his novel “The Two Dianas.”

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The Delafield Affair

The Delafield Affair by Florence Finch Kelly

The Delafield Affair by Florence Finch Kelly

New Mexico’s hot, dry winds are taking their toll: cattle suffer long treks to get food and water. But it is not just a hard time for them. Lucy Bancroft has sought a milder climate so she can recover from typhoid fever. She and her father stop to see Curt Conrad, a rancher, on their way to their new home. The two men discuss politics (some of it crooked) at the state level. they also talk about an easterner, a man named Delafield, who years earlier cheated Conrad’s father out of his considerable wealth. Curt has vowed to seek revenge on Delafield if he can ever find the crook. thus begins a harrowing tale of determined search and blossoming love in the hot, dry climate of New Mexico

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Wyllard’s Weird

Wyllard's Weird by M. E. Braddon

Wyllard's Weird by M. E. Braddon

A novel written in three volumes. In the golden age of steam, the London train wends its way across the Tamar into the strange and mystic land that is Cornwall, having left most of its length at Plymouth. A weary doctor gazes at the countryside, when the train grinds to a halt and his professional attention is demanded. A young woman. An apparent suicide. Who was she? What brought her to Cornwall? What drove her to kill herself? Or did she?

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The Yellow Dove

The Yellow Dove by George Gibbs

The Yellow Dove by George Gibbs

A World War 1 spy vs spy novel. Oh! And perhaps I should also mention, a bit of romance?
“I am sorry,” he said coolly, “awfully sorry. As you know, I would have had things different. You may still doubt me when I say that what I have done is the hardest task that I ever undertook in my life. But that is true. You were the only person in England who jeopardized my existence there. I had to take you away. I regret the necessity of having to use force. I shall do what I can here upon the Sylph to counteract the unpleasant impression of my brutality. I am not a bully and a woman-baiter. I am a spoke in the wheel of destiny which you had clogged. By all the rules of the game you should have died. Reasons which I need not mention made your death at my hands an impossibility. So I merely removed you to a place of safety. No harm shall come to you, I pledge my honor.”

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Nancy Brandon’s Mystery

Nancy Brandon's Mystery by Lilian C. Garis

Nancy Brandon's Mystery by Lilian C. Garis

Nancy spends the summer with a cousin she hardly knows who has a friend who seems to be a bad influence. Secrets, jealousy and bitterness fill their days until they learn how to believe in themselves and overcome their bitterness when the truth is revealed.

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A Prince of Swindlers

A Prince of Swindlers by Guy Boothby

A Prince of Swindlers by Guy Boothby

The year 18– was a momentous one in Great Britain. Not only did the nation receive most of the world’s royalty for months on end, but the well-to-do gentleman, Simon Carne spent much of the social season in London. On friendly terms with royalty, sponsored into society by Lord Amberly, formerly viceroy of India, Carne’s horse won the Derby and his Yacht the Queen’s Cup. But at the same time, a serious of notorious swindles, thefts and other crimes plagued London and the surrounding environs. The mysterious detective Klimo, did a thriving business by attempting to resolve the crimes. Little did Londoners suspect that Klimo and Carne were one and the same, and the notorious activity remained unsolved until a confession was obtained by Lord Amberly, from the man who became known as A Prince of Swindlers.

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Man in the Iron Mask (Essay)

Man in the Iron Mask (Essay) by Alexandre Dumas

Man in the Iron Mask (Essay) by Alexandre Dumas

n the late 1600s a man was doubly-imprisoned: his body in an iron cell and his face in an iron mask. Who the “man in the iron mask” was, why he was imprisoned, and how he was treated during imprisonment, remains a mystery that has captivated historians for centuries. Before Dumas penned the final volume of his D’Artagnan Romances, “The Man in the Iron Mask,” he wrote that “everything connected with the masked prisoner arouses the most vivid curiosity.” This essay is a comprehensive summary of theories regarding the masked prisoner’s identity and history from the 1770s to Dumas’ time (1840s).

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