The Con Men - Hustling in New York City
Terry Williams, Trevor B. Milton
Publisher: Columbia University Press
This ethnography of NYC’s scammers presents “a revealing portrait of a critical but little known element of city life…timely, incisive, and poignant” (Elijah Anderson, author of Code of the Street). This vivid account of hustling in New York City explores the sociological reasons why con artists play their game and the psychological tricks they use to win it. Sociologists Terry Williams and Trevor B. Milton spent years with New York con artists to uncover their secrets. The result is an unprecedented view into how con games operate, whether in back alleys and side streets or in police precincts and Wall Street boiler rooms. Whether it's selling bootleg goods, playing the numbers, squatting rent-free, scamming tourists with bogus stories, selling knockoffs on Canal Street, or crafting Ponzi schemes, con artists use verbal persuasion, physical misdirection, and sheer charm to convince others to do what they want. Williams and Milton examine this act of performance art and find meaning in its methods. Through their sophisticated exploration of the personal experiences and influences that create a successful hustler, they build a portrait of unusual emotional and psychological depth. This engaging ethnography demonstrates how the city's unique urban and social architecture lends itself to the perfect con.