Catch Me If You Can – Frank W. Abagnale

April 28, 2009 Reading Nook, Review 32

Yikes—can’t believe I’m a week and a half past the read-a-thon and still have a few reviews I need to get out. I try really hard not to procrastinate because I know if I get behind the chances of me getting caught up might be slim (this is what happened when I kept a written journal). Luckily I’m reading Middlemarch and will be for a few more weeks, so I’ve been able to take my sweet time. I have to admit that it was kind of nice with the blogosphere being so quiet last week, but I’m back at 100% (was dancing and singing in the car this morning…yes, I am one of those people), so now I just have to write my reviews and get caught up on bloghopping. Yippee!

Title: Catch Me If You Can
Author: Frank W. Abagnale
Published: 1980 Pages: 285
Genre: Memoir (NF)
Rating: 4/5

I’m sure many of you have seen the movie, Catch Me If You Can, but if not: Frank Abagnale left his tumultuous homelife at the age of 16. His parents had recently divorced and Frank found himself depressed and ready to move on. Over the next few years, he posed as various high-powered professionals—airline pilot, doctor, lawyer, teacher—without even a high school diploma. He began his criminal career by performing clever little capers, in the beginning at his father’s expense, but by the time he was caught he had led a full and adventurous, albiet short, criminal life:

“I was a millionaire twice over and a half again before I was twenty-one. I stole every nickel of it and blew the bulk of the bundle on fine threads, gourmet foods, luxious lodgings, fantastic foxes, fine wheels and other sensual goodies. I partied in every capital in Europe, basked on all the famous beaches and good-timed it in South America, the South Seas, the Orient and the more palatable portions of Africa” (4).

Simply put, this book was fascinating. I loved the movie, but the book goes into so much more depth as to how Frank pulled off his stunts and faked his way into some very lucrative positions. Many of the times he fell into the right place at the right time, but there is no doubt that he is an incredibly intelligent and resourceful man. I was constantly amazed at the detail he put into his cons and how well thought out his fraud crimes were. My husband read this book a year ago, so it was fun to say, “Hey Honey, remember…” and then quickly chat about whatever little tidbit I had just discovered. Great for holding my attention during the read-a-thon!

As for the writing, Stan Redding is the ghostwriter and I’m not sure what that entails or how heavy his hand was, but I was pleased with the detail and description in the book. The style was very easy to consume, but I did have a difficult time understanding sometimes the complicated nature of his schemes, especially when he was involved in complicated bank robberies. It is also amazing to me how trusting people were–or oftentimes just ignorant. Most of these events happened in the 1960s and I think with today’s technology many of these crimes could not have been committed with such ease.

I’d definitely recommend this book. It was fast and fun. The information was interesting and the writing was engaging. There certainly was never a dull moment during Frank’s short criminal career. I did have to wonder whether all of the stories were true, but I guess it can all be backed up in some fashion. The FBI was investigating Frank for years before they were finally able to nab him (and then he still escaped out of the bathroom in an airplane!). I’m telling you–this story will keep you on your toes!

Finished: April 18, 2009 (during read-a-thon)

So this reminds me–Non-Fiction Five challenge starts on Friday!! If you haven’t signed up yet, head over there. I’ll put up a Mr. Linky each month, but I don’t think I’ll keep them sticky. What do you think? This would be a great one for your list, especially for apprehensive non-fiction readers.

32 Responses to “Catch Me If You Can – Frank W. Abagnale”

  1. C.B. James

    I had a student who kind of lived this out a few years ago. He was 16 too and managed to travel the country as a well paid D.J. and sound system expert.

    I found out about it when a private detective should up at school to interview me. Turns out the former student had used me as a reference to get several D.J. gigs.

    So, I guess you can still get away with this sort of thing.

  2. Literary Feline

    I really liked the movie and hadn’t known it was also a book. It’s such a fascinating story–and as you said, hard to believe at times.

    Thanks for the great review, Trish. I’ll have to look for the book.

  3. Melody

    Yikes… after reading the other commentators’ replies, it seems like I’m the only one who haven’t read or watch this movie! Guess I need to look out this book!

    Thanks for the review, Trish!

  4. Trish

    *Bermuda – Hope you enjoy!

    *CB – What a crazy story!! Wonder what ever happened to the kid. Although 2.5 million 45 years ago seems like it might be a little more difficult to get away with due to the computer systems?

    *Lit Feline – I didn’t realize it was a book either until I was browsing around the True Crime section. It’s a fun book, very interesting!

    *Melody – Well you have to at least see the movie! Leo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks. Very fun/good movie. The book goes into a lot more detail than the movie (of course).

  5. Nicole (Linus's Blanket)

    I saw the movie, and while I found it enjoyable, I didn’t love it. I suspect that it’s because it didn’t have all the details that you mentioned the book having. Sounds like a great read.

    I remember seeing an interview with Frank Abagnale Jr and he said that it would actually be easier to pull cons today, if you can believe it. I just don’t have that kind of nerve or vision!

  6. Clover

    I really like the film and I sort of figured the book would be more detailed, I just never got around to reading the book and then it fell off my radar until your review. I really feel like reading it now, so thanks for the review..

  7. Nicola

    Cool! I absolutely love the movie and I knew it was based on a true story but I didn’t know there was a book! How did I not know that?! Thanks for the review!

  8. Vivienne

    Absolutely loved this film, so I am over the moon to find out that it is also a book. Going on my TBR list as we speak!

  9. Trish

    *S. Krishna – Hope you enjoy!

    *Bellezza – It was a really lucky find–just stumbled upon it at the used bookstore!

    *Nicole – The book definitely goes into a lot more detail of how he actually pulled everything off. Interesting about it being easier today–I would have thought the exact opposite!

    *Kim – Usually I can’t read a book after watching the movie, but this one was just fine–maybe because of all the detail. Hope you like it!

    *Michelle – The book is pretty easy to read–wouldn’t take you more than a lazy weekend (or read-a-thon!), but I loved learning about the methods Frank used.

    *Nicola – LOL! I had no idea there was a book either until I just happened upon it. It was even published in 1980! :) I think you’d enjoy this one.

    *Scrap girl – I hope you like it! The movie stayed pretty true to the book, but there is so much more to the story, of course! Enjoy.

  10. Paxton

    Great review!

    I read this book around the time the movie came out (I can’t remember if I read it before or after I saw the movie). LOVED it, except for the ending. Compared to the movie, the book just…ENDS. It doesn’t show him working for the FBI or anything like that. I was disappointed at the abrupt ending because I loved everything that came before it. Otherwise the story is fascinating.

    I would also recommend this book — despite the ending.

    Again, great review.

    FYI…I’m a longtime lurker on your blog. Love it.

    Pax Holley
    http://paxholley.net

  11. Heather J.

    I’ve been looking at this one for a while. The movie was fascinating for sure! Glad to hear the book was just as good – I’ll have to put it back on my PaperbackSwap list.

  12. libritouches

    Eep! That sounds utterly fascinating! I’ve never heard of either the movie or the book, but I’ll definitely be looking into the latter!

    Mmm… That feeling of having to catch up is a nasty one, isn’t it? I’m glad to hear you’re recovered from the Read-a-thon, though!

  13. carolsnotebook

    I had forgotten about this book. I watched the movie and really liked it, but I just never got around to the book. One more to add to the never-ending list.

  14. Nymeth

    I actually haven’t watched the movie, so I didn’t know what it was about. And I didn’t know there was a book. It does sound completely fascinating. And yikes, I had forgotten to sign up for the non-fiction five! I’ll be a few days late, but you can count me in for sure. I’d add this book to my list, but there’s so much non-fiction I’m excited to read that I’m having trouble limiting myself to five. This has never happened to me before. I should write a post about it, actually. And I’m rambling, aren’t I? :P

  15. Laura

    Oh no, Trish, you are SSSSOOOO far behind! :) Were you picturing Leo the entire time you were reading the book, or were you able to imagine a different person entirely (not that picturing Leo would be a bad thing!)

  16. Kim L

    I had almost forgotten that the movie was based on a real life story. Interesting! I would totally love reading about this guy… clearly he is a very smart person. To think of how many people he fooled at such a young age… incredible!

  17. Jeanette

    I remember thinking I should read the book when I saw the movie but never got around to it I guess. You’ve got me wanting to track down the book again.

  18. Trish

    *Paxton – I think my edition might have had some little extras in it because it did talk about Frank working for banks and then later the FBI. You’ll have to scour the library to see if you can find a copy with the afterward. Don’t be a lurker!! Glad you commented. :)

    *Heather – Our used bookstore always has extra copies–maybe try there. Hope you get a chance to read it…such a fascinating story.

    *Libritouches – Catching up stinks, especially as I’m about to go out of town, but I’ll get there. :) The book IS really interesting and the movie is very entertaining. You should check out one or the other.

    *Carol – The book is pretty quick reading, so it won’t take you too much time, but I know all about the never-ending list! :)

    *Nymeth – It is a really fun movie! Not sure what kind of films you like, but I think this one has pretty wide appeal. And no worries about the NFF–there’s plenty of time! :) and I’ll take the rambling any day. This coming from one rambler to another!! :P

    *Laura – Leo is ewwww. :) Haha! Actually, he was pretty good looking in Blood Diamond but otherwise he’s too tall and lanky. No meat on those bones. Brad Pitt on the other hand!! But yes, I was picturing both him and Tom Hanks.

    *Sam – hope you get to it–it adds a lot of background story that you don’t get with the movie.

    *Kim – I think when I saw the movie I didn’t realize it was a true story! I believe he was only 20-21 when he got caught and things he did! It is incredible.

    *Jeanette – I didn’t realize it was a book until recently but I’m glad I picked it up. Very very interesting! Hope you can find it.

  19. Heather J.

    Trish – I just learned about some cool book events in Dallas! Email me and I’ll send you the details. :)
    SharingMyStory
    yahoo
    com

  20. Michelle

    I noticed that there is another Michelle around. Maybe I should go back to being michellekae? Anyway, I loved this movie. I would really love to read it. I saw this on sale at my local library used section. Maybe I should go back and pick it up. Didn’t look like too long of a book….

  21. Terri B.

    Oh my … I am sooo behind in my reviewing. I’ll probably just get done the ones for challenges and publishers/authors. Sigh.

  22. Debi

    I’m not sure I’d have ever thought of reading this book, but after your awesome review, Trish, I think I will be checking the library for it! Honestly sounds like one I’d really enjoy. Thanks. :)

  23. Thoughts of Joy

    I loved the movie. I would really like to read the book, but I have soooo many other books that I don’t know anything about and would love to explore, so I think I have decided not to read it. :( Do you know what I mean?

  24. Darlene

    I haven’t seen the movie or read the book but it certainly sounds good. I have to agree with Joy, there’s just so many good books to read out there that there is no way of ever keeping up.

  25. Trish

    *Heather – I apologize for getting back to you so late, but thanks for the email! I’ll definitely check out the events.

    *Michelle – There is another Michelle, but having a picture helps distinguish. There’s another Trish and sometimes I’ve thought about making my name “Trish!!!” :P The book is under 300 pages and a pretty quick read—very interesting!

    *Terri B – LOL—I still have some reviews from the read-a-thon that I haven’t finished! I fear that with summer things will fall further behind from being outside more often.

    *Rachel – I used to be petrified of non-fiction, but I find I really enjoy many types of non-fiction now. This would be a great one for the challenge!

    *Debi – I didn’t even realize it was a book until Scott and I happened onto it by accident. He was interested, so of course I had to pick it up! I hope you like it—such a fascinating story.

    *Joy – You’re funny, but I know exactly what you mean. This one was really interesting and added a lot of background to what you see in the movie, but in many ways the movie is good enough. There never is enough time!

    *Dar – Well you have to at least watch the movie! Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks—can’t go wrong. Yup, too many good books out there.

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