Ben MacIntyre = The Napoleon of Storytellers
This is the 2nd Ben MacIntyre book I’ve read and I intend to continue reading the rest of his books. He has a knack for finding great stories, then telling them brilliantly, in a manner that is both fast-paced, yet also rich in historical detail. Oh, and he has a fine ironic, comic lens as well (as, for example, when he describes Adam Worth’s manservant and hoodlum bodyguard, John “Junka” Phillips, as a man of such gargantuan proportions that “his mother had obviously mated with a grizzly bear”).
Adam Worth himself was a classic “larger than life” character, rising from abject poverty as an antebellum eastern European immigrant, to elitist status in Victorian England, all through ill-gotten wealth, only to have the proverbial chickens come home to roost at long last. Worth’s ingenious and daring crimes, his eccentric underworld associates, and, very notably, the equally larger-than-life Pinkertons, in all their storied glory are all presented herein. The book is well sourced, supporting its historical accuracy.
The author has a gift for weaving together history, biography, psychology, and humor in a manner that kept me fascinated from cover to cover.