Thrilling thieves Liars, cheats, and cons who changed history

Brianna DuMont

Book - 2018

"Follow the trail of twelve trouble-makers to learn what really made the Mona Lisa the most iconic painting in the world, meet the most powerful pirate from history (it's probably not who you're expecting), and watch empires rise and fall with the theft of a simple tea plant. Turns out our world owes a lot to those who dabble on the dark side. If you're not scared of crooks and criminals, take a peek at this new side of history" -- Dust jacket.

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  • Venetians
  • Francisco Pizarro
  • Queen Elizabeth I of England
  • Catherine the Great
  • Napoleon Bonaparte
  • Madame Cheng
  • Robert Fortune
  • Robert Smalls
  • William Tweed
  • Thomas Edison
  • Vincenzo Peruggia
  • Klaus Fuchs.
Review by Booklist Reviews

Just as she did in Fantastic Fugitives (2016), DuMont offers another exciting look at criminals—this time, thieves—throughout history. Beginning with the Venetians, she continues chronologically with 11 individuals, including Chinese pirate Madame Cheng, Thomas Edison, and spy Klaus Fuchs. In a conversational style, emphasized by over-the-top humor, each profile relates the time period, the thief's conquest, and the thievery's impact on history. For instance, when Vincenzo Peruggia stole the Mona Lisa from the Louvre in 1911, the painting was only a "B-list celebrity." Its incredible return years later made it the star it is today—and, of course, influenced art museum security around the world. (Its first thief, Napoleon, is also featured in the book.) The term thief is used loosely with other individuals, such as Englishman Robert Fortune, who "stole" the tea trade from China in the 1800s and gave it to British-controlled India. And helping to steal the show in this rousing read are funny cartoons, period photos, reproductions, and interesting sidebars. Even reluctant nonfiction readers will become history buffs. Grades 4-8. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 5–8—The latest installment in the series is a well-organized collection of minibiographies of historical figures who stole their way into history books, from Elizabeth I and Thomas Edison to Robert Gardner and Madame Cheng. Overall, the text is easy to read. Even students who dislike history will find DuMont's style engaging rather than dry. Chapters are not lengthy and do not go into great detail, but they manage to explain exactly why a specific person fits into the theme. In many instances, the content offers opportunities for discussion about whether or not the term thief, liar, con, or cheat really applies to a subject, such as Robert Smalls, who escaped slavery by stealing a Confederate ship to get himself, his family, and others who were enslaved to freedom. Terminology specific to the era or further elaborations on the vocabulary is highlighted in text boxes alongside paragraphs. The author also includes her sources for students who may wish to do more in-depth reading. VERDICT A solid purchase for collections where nonfiction anthologies, like Georgia Bragg's How They Croaked, are popular.—Paige Garrison, The Davis Academy, Sandy Springs, GA Copyright 2018 School Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Dramatic portraits of some of history's most clever anti-heroes reveals how such famous notables as Elizabeth I, Napoleon and Thomas Edison used guile, deceit, trickery and even theft to acquire wealth and power, changing history along the way. Simultaneous eBook.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Profiles twelve inconsiderately daring characters who have taken what was not theirs, including Francisco Pizarro, Queen Elizabeth I, Catherine the Great, and Thomas Edison.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Caution: don’t look for the good guys in here.What do Mother Theresa, Honest Abe, and Mahatma Gandhi have in common? They’re all too good for this book, that’s what.Sure, you’ll find some familiar faces like Queen Elizabeth I and Thomas Edison in here, but you’ll learn that behind their angelic smiles were cunning con artists who stole their way to gold and greatness. Follow the trail of twelve troublemakers to learn what really made the Mona Lisa the most iconic painting in the world, meet the most powerful pirate from history (it’s probably not who you’re expecting), and watch empires rise and fall with the theft of a simple tea plant. Turns out our world owes a lot to those who dabble on the dark side.If you’re not scared of crooks and criminals, take a peek at this new side of history . . .

Review by Publisher Summary 4

The Changed History series is back with a look at some of the most infamous figures from our past.

Review by Publisher Summary 5

Caution: don't look for the good guys in here.What do Mother Theresa, Honest Abe, and Mahatma Gandhi have in common? They're all too good for this book, that's what.Sure, you'll find some familiar faces like Queen Elizabeth I and Thomas Edison in here, but you'll learn that behind their angelic smiles were cunning con artists who stole their way to gold and greatness. Follow the trail of twelve troublemakers to learn what really made the Mona Lisa the most iconic painting in the world, meet the most powerful pirate from history (it's probably not who you're expecting), and watch empires rise and fall with the theft of a simple tea plant. Turns out our world owes a lot to those who dabble on the dark side.If you're not scared of crooks and criminals, take a peek at this new side of history . . .