A Night Mare At San Pablo Casino!!!! - Review of San Pablo ...

The List: 2019

The Lineup is out, bold denotes acts that ended up on the lineup
This is a list of acts that are potentially playing OSLs 2019. I intend to update this list via edit from now until the lineup drop. If you want to add someone to this list just comment below and I will modify the list and credit your handle next to the edit. If you want to find someone in particular quickly I suggest you use ctrl F.
POTENTIAL HEADLINERS
POTENTIAL UNDERCARD:
Playing eight tracked festivals
Playing six tracked festivals
Playing five tracked festivals
Playing four tracked festivals
Playing three tracked festivals
Playing two tracked festivals
Playing one tracked festival
Added by users, not currently playing any heavy crossover festivals so far
The following have appeared at OSLs once before but have not released new material since their first stint and are therefore less likely to appear in 2019 (To date only Beck and Vance Joy have returned WITHOUT new material, making the following acts much less likely)
The following is a list of bands that have played OSLs more than once and the gaps between return performances, considering only five acts have ever played OSLs three times, all acts in this section should be considered less likely than acts that have played OSLs once or never. Note that no act has ever returned quicker than a three year gap, Givers, Fantastic Negrito, and Big Boi were all makeup performances for prior year cancellations.
Headliners
Threepeaters
Three year gap
Four year gap
Five year gap
Six year gap
Seven year gap
Eight year gap
Ten year gap
The following are past lineup drop dates, all lineup drops from 2012 to 2018 have occurred on a Tuesday:
ACTS CONFIRMED PRIOR TO LINEUP DROP:
NAMES THAT ULTIMATELY ENDED UP ON THE LINEUP THAT WERE ON NEITHER LIST (26):
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My List Of True Crime Books That Are (Primarily) Not About Murder.

This is my third list for this sub. I hope you enjoy it.
ART THIEVES, FORGERS, SMUGGLERS.
The Art of the Steal by Christopher Mason. A true story about the auction houses Sotheby’s and Christie’s and how they conspired to cheat their clients out of millions of dollars.
The Billionaire’s Vinegar: The Mystery of the World’s Most Expensive Bottle of Wine by Benjamin Wallace. The most expensive bottle of wine and the conflicting reports about its history. This is a book that would enchant wine conessi… conues… lovers.
The Gardner Heist: The True Story of the World’s Largest Unsolved Art Theft by Ulrich Boser. Author Ulrich Boser looks at the unsolved art theft case of Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.
The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness, and Greed by John Vaillant. Grant Hadwin, a logger-turned-activist, fells a unique 165 feet Sitka spruce in an act of protest. John Vaillant takes the readers into the heart of North America’s last great forest to find out why he did that.
Hitler’s Art Thief: Hildebrand Gurlitt, the Nazis, and the Looting of Europe’s Treasures by Susan Ronald. Hildebrand Gurlitt was an art thief, or as he put it himself, an ‘official dealer’ for Hitler and Goebbels. But he stole from the Jews and Nazis alike. This book was published after his hoard was recently (2013) discovered which created an international furor.
The Irish Game: A True Story of Crime and Art by Matthew Hart. This book is about the art theft at Ireland’s Russborough House in 1986. The suspect, a gangster named Martin Cahill, played cat and mouse with police for years.
The Island of Lost Maps: A True Story of Cartographic Crime by Miles Harvey. When you think about stealing some valuable art, do maps come to your mind? Then this book is for you. Gilbert Joseph Bland Jr. stole numerous centuries-old maps from research libraries in US and Canada.
I Was Vermeer: The Rise and Fall of the Twentieth Century’s Greatest Forger by Frank Wynne. Han van Meegeren became so much adapt at forging Vermeer paintings that it is said that even professional experts would find it difficult to point out his works from the originals. He earned more than $50 million by selling his forgeries – and he even swindled the Nazis.
The Lizard King: The True Crimes and Passions of the World’s Greatest Reptile Smugglers by Bryan Christy. Reptile smuggling is a big “business”. The author, a federal agent, suspected a reptile business owner of being a major smuggler and he started investigating. It was not as simple as it sounds because at one point he was chased by a mother alligator and even bitten by a python.
The Lost Chalice: The Epic Hunt for a Priceless Masterpiece by Vernon Silver. A 2500 year old cup made by the Greek master Euphronios which depicted the fall of Troy gets stolen and sold (along with 3 other such vessels). Then due to the questionable practice of some art dealers, no one can track down its last known owner.
The Lost Painting by Jonathan Harr. With nothing better to do, the author embarks on a journey to discover a Caravaggio painting which was lost to time two hundred years ago.
The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession by Allison Hoover Bartlett. John Charles Gilkey stole rare books not because he wanted to make profit as most thieves do, but because he loved books. I guess if you want to call yourself a book-reader but don’t actually want to say… read a book, you could just steal them and show them off to your friends. But who are we to question the wisdom of “booklovers”, right?
The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Beauty and Obsession by Susan Orlean. If you thought that stealing maps is a weird “job” to have, how about stealing a rare breed of flower? We all know about the Tulipomania that gripped Netherlands in the 1630s. But this is a modern tale, and the book is perhaps one of the most popular ones on this list.
Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World’s Stolen Treasures by Robert K. Wittman, John Shiffman. This book is about Robert K. Wittman, FBI’s founder of the Art Crime Team and his undercover missions around the world to rescue various pieces of stolen art.
Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art by Laney Salisbury. You could have a Jackson Pollock lying around in your basement, but if you can’t prove that the piece is real, you might as well use it as a table cloth (I might have exaggerated there a bit, but you get the point). John Myatt, a struggling artist, and John Drewe, a conman who knew the importance of Provenance in the art world, duped many people and museums by creating a fake paper trial that seemed to prove that the art was a real thing and not a forgery. So much so that the experts believe that there might still be some fake paintings created by Myatt displayed in prominent places as the real thing.
The Rescue Artist: A True Story of Art, Thieves, and the Hunt for a Missing Masterpiece by Edward Dolnick. Dolnick writes about the theft of Edvard Munch’s The Scream from the National Gallery in Oslo in 1994 and the subsequent investigation that took place to track it down.
Selling Hitler by Robert Harris In mid-eighties, Hitler’s diaries were “discovered” and many experts fell for the con. The backpeddling many did when it was revealed that the diaries were not real is really amusing to read about.
Shell Games: Rogues, Smugglers, and the Hunt for Nature’s Bounty by Craig Welch. This book is about the poaching of a larger-than-life clam – a Geoduck, to be precise, and the subsequent chase from the wildlife police to nab the poacher.
Stealing History: Tomb Raiders, Smugglers and the Looting of the Ancient World by Roger Atwood. This book provides a sweeping history of thefts of various priceless antiques.
Stealing the Mystic Lamb: The True Story of the World’s Most Coveted Masterpiece by Noah Charney. The twelve panel oil-painting of the Mystic Lamb is the most frequently stolen artwork in the world. It was stolen 13 times. One wonders whether they could have guarded it a little better after the first couple of times, you know. Anyway, this book describes the events of each theft.
Stolen World: A Tale of Reptiles, Smugglers, and Skulduggery by Jennie Erin Smith. Two reptile smugglers compete against each other to conquer the illegal trade for themselves. The funny thing is, the Zoos stood against them in the courts, but they had no problem buying rare fauna from the two smugglers, sometimes simultaneously.
Tangled Vines: Greed, Murder, Obsession, and an Arsonist in the Vineyards of California by Frances Dinkelspiel. A massive fire destroyed wines worth $250 million in a California warehouse, making it the largest destruction of wine in history. It was done by a conman named Mark Anderson, who rented storage space at the same warehouse. This book tells why he did that and also goes into the surprisingly bloody history of wine trade in California. (reads well with cranberry juice).
Vanished Smile: The Mysterious Theft of Mona Lisa by R. A. Scotti. On August 21, 1911, a man walked out of the Louvre with the Mona Lisa tucked inside his coat (should have painted it bigger, eh Vinci?). I am not going to spoil this book for anyone. Read it if you want to know whether Mona Lisa was recovered or was lost to time forever.
CARTELS, GANGS, UNDERWORLD.
American Desperado: My Life --- From Mafia Soldier to Cocaine Cowboy to Secret Government Asset by Jon Roberts, Evan Wright. Jon Roberts, who starred in documentary Cocaine Cowboys tells his story to the journalist Evan Wright in this book. Roberts smuggled drugs to Miami for the Medellin Cartel (which will feature many times in this category).
At the Devil’s Table: The Untold Story of the Insider Who Brought Down the Cali Cartel by William C. Rempel. This is Narcos Season 3, basically. Remember the family guy who gets involved with the Cali Cartel and mops around for the whole season even though he had an unbelievably hot wife who was clearly out of his league? That character was based on Rempel. And if I must say so, the book is more compelling than that season of Narcos. Nothing can beat Agent Pena, though.
Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob by Dick Lehr, Gerard O’Neill. The story of James ‘Whitey’ Bulger – the head of the Irish Mob in Boston - who became an informant for the FBI and chaos ensued. Depp plays Whitey Bulger in the movie adaptation with a soggy tortilla glued to his face as make-up.
Blow: How a Small -Town Bay Made $100 Million with the Medellin Cocaine Cartel and Lost it All by Bruce Porter. Another book where Johnny Depp plays the main character in the movie adaptation. This book is about George Jung, who after meeting Carlos Lehder, started selling cocaine in the United States through Medellin Cartel.
Cocaine Diaries: A Venezuelan Prison Nightmare by Paul Keany, Jeff Farrell. Paul Keany was caught smuggling half-a-million euro worth of cocaine into Venezuela. He was sentenced to 8 years in prison. Now, prisons everywhere aren’t exactly fun places to be, but Los Teques where Keany was incarcerated was nothing short of hell on earth.
Confessions of a Yakuza by Junichi Saga. Junichi Saga was a doctor by profession. A patient, who was a former Yakuza, recounted his life story before him. Saga recorded the conversations, and broke doctor-patient confidentiality by writing this book.
Doctor Dealer: The Rise and Fall of an All-American Boy and His Multimillion-Dollar Cocaine Empire by Mark Bowden. A dentist named Larry Lavin builds the foundation for a cocaine empire in the United States.
Donnie Brasco by Joseph D. Pistone, Richard Woodley. Joseph D. Pistone, an FBI agent, goes undercover for six years to infiltrate the Mafia. Do watch the movie too, it is Depp’s last movie without weird make-up.
El Narco: Inside Mexico’s Criminal Insurgency by Ioan Grillo. Journalist Ioan Grillo has written, arguably, the definitive book on Mexican drug cartels. Why he is still alive is anybody’s guess.
Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets by Sudhir Venkatesh. Venkatesh, who was a sociology grad student at the time, infiltrated one of Chicago’s most notorious gangs. This is one of a kind type of book.
Gomorrah by Roberto Saviano. This book is about the Italian Crime Network called Camorra in Naples, Italy. Due to his intensive investigative journalism which exposed lot of insider information about the crime syndicate, author Saviano still has to live under constant police protection.
The Good Mothers: The True Story of the Women Who Took on the World’s Most Powerful Mafia by Alex Perry. This is a recent book, where the author Alex Perry looks inside the ruthless Calabrian Mafia of Italy and three women who want to save their own and their children’s lives. This is a fascinating and courageous look into an aspect of the Mafia which is often overlooked by most.
Hunting El Chapo: The Inside Story of the American Lawman Who Captured the World’s Most Wanted Drug-Lord by Andrew Hogan, Douglas Century. Remember when Joaquin Guzman was caught for the first time and then he escaped and then he was caught again for good? Yes? Then read this one. But this book only focuses on the operation that nabbed him for the first time. I must warn you though – the author, Andrew Hogan – is really really in love with himself and it seeps into his writing.
The Infiltrator: My Secret Life Inside the Dirty Banks Behind Pablo Escobar’s Medellin Cartel by Robert Mazur. Mazur went undercover and actually became a money launderer for Pablo Escobar. This book is more about how bankers actively helped to launder the drug money and how Mazur helped to bring them down.
Killing Pablo: The Hunt for the World’s Greatest Outlaw by Mark Bowden. This is the best book about tracking and eventually killing Pablo Escobar. And as Walter Jr. pointed out to Walter White, it focuses on the good guys, not the bad ones. Good companion book to Pablo Escobar: My Father written by Escobar’s son.
Marching Powder: A True Story of Friendship, Cocaine, and South America’s Strangest Jail by Rusty Young. The author stays inside San Pedro jail for months with a drug smuggler to chronicle his tale. This is one of the most popular books written on cocaine smuggling.
McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld by Misha Glenny. This is a thorough investigation into organized crime worldwide which accounts for 1/5th of total GDP of the world. This book would please readers who are into extensively researched true-crime history books, not so much a casual reader (inb4 - I just read 5 pages of McMafia and wow… just wow).
Mr. Blue: Memoirs of a Renegade by Edward Bunker. Edward Bunker had had an eventful life. Incarceration for two and a half decades, being on FBI’s most wanted list, and being a crime novelist. This is his autobiography.
Mr. Nice by Howard Marks. Howard Marks started dealing dope in small quantities while he was studying at Oxford – as you do – and then eventually graduated to dealing it in tons (what the hell was he studying there? Oh, philosophy). This is his fascinating story.
Narcoland: The Mexican Drug Lords and Their Godfathers by Anabel Hernandez. Yet another book that resulted in the author getting death threats. This proves the old cliché true that the pen is mightier than the sword; until the sword comes down and cuts your neck. That’s why the author has to live under constant protection.
Narconomics: How to Run a Drug Cartel by Tom Wainwright. Any aspiring drug lords should read this instruction manual. Just kidding. Wainwright goes deep into the functioning of various drug cartels and at the end also comes up with a plan to defeat them.
News of a Kidnapping by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Little known author tries his hand at true-crime. Pablo Escobar kidnapped 10 journalists when he was on the run from the authorities. This book revolves around that event.
The Night it Rained Guns: Unravelling the Purulia Arms Drop Conspiracy by Chandan Nandy. On a December night in 1995, someone airdropped three weapons-laden wooden pallets over Purulia, West Bengal. Who did it and why? This book tells the story about one of India’s greatest ever security breaches.
No Angel: My Undercover Journey to the Inner Circle of the Hells Angels by Jay Dobyns, Nils Johnson-Shelton. Dobyns was the first federal agent to infiltrate the inner circle of the notorious biker gang. This is his story.
Pablo Escobar: My Father by Juan Pablo Escobar. Juan Pablo is an architect and lives and practices his trade in Argentina. Even though Pablo was his father, Juan does not try to justify his actions even a little bit. This is one of the best books written on Pablo Escobar.
The Snakehead: An Epic Tale of the Chinatown Underworld and the American Dream by Patrick Radden Keefe. Sister Ping, leader of the Chinese underworld in the US, earned $40 million a year smuggling people from China. Told from the viewpoints of gangsters, investigators, and poor immigrants alike, this book provides a unique window into the world of human smuggling.
Scores: How I Opened the Hottest Strip Club in New York City, Was Extorted out of Millions by the Gambino Family, and Became One of the Most Successful Mafia Informants in FBI History by Michael D. Blutrich. I am disappointed that they went with FBI instead of Federal Bureau of Investigation in the title. Should have made it longer. Scores: How I Opened the Hottest Strip Club in New York City on the 34th Street Just Opposite the Starbucks, Was Extorted out of 4.54 Millions and 55 Cents Plus Taxes by the Gambino Family, and Became One of the Most Successful Mafia Informants in Federal Bureau of Investigation History by Michael Dostoyevsky Blutrich
Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan by Jake Adelstein. The author, working as a reporter in Japan, writes about the seedy underbelly of crime in the country.
The Untouchables by Eliot Ness, Oscar Fraley. Where’s Nitty? He’s in the car. Great movie. How Eliot Ness and his team started the downward spiral in criminal career of Al Capone. A somewhat embellished account was also written in the book, but nonetheless, it is a gripping tale.
Veerappan: Chasing the Brigand by K. Vijay Kumar. Koose Muniswamy Veerappan was the last big outlaw of India. A sandalwood smuggler who lived in the forest to evade the police, Veerappan killed hundreds of policemen and civilians. K. Vijay Kumar, the officer who led the task force that ultimately brought down the brigand, is the author of this book.
Wiseguy: Life in a Mafia Family by Nicholas Pileggi. I’m funny how, I mean funny like I’m a clown, I amuse you? Goodfellas is perhaps the best Mafia movie ever made, so read it in his own words why Pileggi might fold under questioning.
Zero Zero Zero by Roberto Saviano, Virginia Jewiss. This Saviano guy must have a death wish. But as a handsome list-writer once eloquently said, “If bitten already by a King Cobra, what difference it makes if you French kiss a Black Mamba?” Since the publication of his book on the Italian crime syndicate, Saviano has to live under constant police protection. So to make sure they don’t slack off, he wrote a book on Cocaine Cartel, this time acquiring lots of admirers in Latin America.
CONMEN, IMPOSTORS.
The Art of Making Money: The Story of a Master Counterfeiter by Jason Kersten. The Art of making money is to make other people work for you; not the other way round. But more scrupulous method of making money would be to counterfeit it. Art Williams did exactly that.
Catch Me If You Can: The True Story of a Real Fake by Frank W. Abagnale. Maybe the most popular book on this list, Abagnale Jr.’s book is not to be missed even if you have watched the movie starring the actor who had sex with a bear (no, not Tormund).
Charlatan: America’s Most Dangerous Huckster, the Man Who Pursued Him, and the Age of Flimflam by Pope Brock. One “Dr.” John R. Brinkley, set-up a medical practice to surgically insert goat glands in human testicles to restore their fading sex drive. I am not joking, this happened.
Conman: A Master Swindler’s Own Story by J. R. Weil, W. T. Brannon. Known as “Yellow Kid” Weil was a master conman, who duped public of more than $8 million 100 years ago. He’s called by many as the greatest conman of all time (second to the companies that charge service fees on the internet, of course).
Eyeing the Flash: The Making of a Carnival Con Artist by Peter Fenton. Fenton was a math student until he turned into a carnival con artist. How many bananas he stole from the monkeys? How many bales of potatoes from the elephants? Read this book to find out.
Inconvenient People: Lunacy, Liberty and the Mad-Doctors in Victorian England by Sarah Wise. If you have any annoying friends who romanticize the Victorian era and say that they would have liked to live there, tell them to read this book and get back to you after that.
The Man in the Rockefeller Suit: The Astonishing Rise and Spectacular Fall of a Serial Impostor by Mark Seal. This is the true story of one of the greatest impostors of all time. The man could have impersonated a chihuahua if he wanted to.
The Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower by James Francis Johnson. Viktor Lustig sold the Eiffel Tower not once, but twice. I still have the relevant papers that my great grandfather left us. I’m going to shift it to Nauru or Detroit.
The Mark Inside: A Perfect Swindle, a Cunning Revenge, and a Small History of the Big Con by Amy Reading. This is a revenge story of a man who sets out to con the conmen who conned him twice. Unfortunately, the book could have been written better, but it is still worth having a look at.
Playing Dead: A Journey Through the World of Death Fraud by Elizabeth Greenwood. I once tried playing dead in a meeting when asked about the progress on my project. But there are people who fake their death for lesser gains, such as insurance fraud and debt fraud. Author Elizabeth Greenwood journeys into the dark world of death fraud to find out more.
Ponzi’s Scheme: The True Story of a Financial Legend by Mitchell Zuckoff. Charles Ponzi was so successful in duping people that we have immortalized his name by terming such swindles after him. At one point, he was raking in $2 millions a week. How many weeks would it take you to earn 2 million dollars at your current income? (sorry, that got heavy fast. It hurt me too).
A Rum Affair: A True Story of Botanical Fraud by Karl Sabbagh. One botanist claimed that some species of plants on the islands south of Scotland survived the last Ice Age. Another botanist doubted him. This might not sound like a big fraud if you are not into plants, but believe me when I say that the 2 botanists who just read this threw their phones away in disgust and disbelief.
Starvation Heights: A True Story of Murder and Malice in the Woods of the Pacific Northwest by Gregg Olsen. A quack doctor named Linda Hazard developed a technique called “fasting treatment”. The story focuses on two sisters who fell for the quack’s assurances that they would be cured of all the diseases - real or imagined. This book is quite infuriating to read. Hazard was a despicable human being.
Swindled: From Poison Sweets to Counterfeit Coffee – The Dark History of the Food Cheats by Bee Wilson. Wilson looks from ancient Rome to current times for food frauds. And she finds them aplenty (companion read - while having a nice snack).
A Treasury of Deception: Liars, Misleaders, Hoodwinkers, and the Extraordinary True Stories of History’s Greatest Hoaxes, Fakes and Frauds by Michael Farquhar. This is a good bathroom book about fakers through history.
The Woman Who Wasn’t There: The True Story of an Incredible Deception by Robin Gaby Fisher, Angelo J. Guglielmo Jr. Have you heard about Tania Head? If you haven’t, I urge you to skip this book. Tania Head duped survivors of 9/11 and the whole world alike into believing that she was one of the survivors from the South Tower of World Trade Center. I feel enraged just by typing this. So just read this book if you want to know more about her. There are a couple of documentaries out there too.
HACKERS.
The Cuckoo’s Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage by Clifford Stoll. Long before internet became a place for cat memes, Cliff Stoll was working at a research lab as a systems manager. One day he found 75 cents of accounting error. This made him alert that an unauthorized person was logging into the system. Thus began his lone effort of tracking down the spy.
Exploding the Phone: The Untold Story of the Teenagers and Outlaws Who Hacked Ma Bell by Phil Lapsley. Before there was internet, or even personal computers, mobsters and teenagers hacked the telephone system.
Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker by Kevin D. Mitnick, William L. Simon. The book tells the story of one of the best hackers of all times, Kevin Mitnick, and his cat and mouse game with the FBI.
The Spider Network: The Wild Story of a Math Genius, a Gang of Backstabbing Bankers, and One of the Greatest Scams in Financial History by David Enrich. A group of bankers manipulated daily interest rates just a fraction here and there on loans worth trillions of dollars and made some serious cash for themselves. This book also rocks one of the ugliest book covers of 2017.
MUTINEERS, PIRATES, OUTLAWS.
Batavia’s Graveyard: The True Story of the Mad Heretic Who Led History’s Bloodiest Mutiny by Mike Dash. I was torn whether to include this book in the list as the history of Batavia’s mutiny is littered with corpses. But as the focus is on the mutiny, I am going to keep it here. This event could give the Medusa’s raft a run for its money.
The Floating Brothel: The Extraordinary True Story of an Eighteenth-Century Ship and its Cargo of Female Convicts by Sian Rees. Poor girls in England, most of who were petty thieves, were given a chance to sail to Botany Bay in Australia to create a new life for themselves and the male population of New South Wales. But the real story happened at the sea on board the ship Lady Julian.
The Last Outlaws: The Lives and Legends of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid by Thom Hatch. Butch: What happened to the old bank? It was beautiful. Guard: People kept robbing it. Butch: Small price to pay for beauty. The book might not be full of memorable dialogues as the movie, but if you want to know more about the legendary outlaws, give this book a chance.
Lost Paradise: From Mutiny on the Bounty to a Modern-Day Legacy of Sexual Mayhem, the Dark Secrets of Pitcairn Island Revealed by Kathy Marks. Mutiny of the Bounty is perhaps the most infamous of mutinies that occurred at sea. Even after the event and hundreds of years later, the descendants of Fletcher Christian and his sailors continue to live a crime-filled life like their forefathers on Pitcairn Island.
The Pirate Hunter: The True Story of Captain Kidd by Richard Zacks. This book will change your perception of Captain Kidd, that’s for sure.
To Hell on a Fast Horse: Billy the Kid, Pat Garrett, and the Epic Chase to Justice in the Old West by Mark Lee Gardner. This non-fiction book concentrates on Sheriff Pat Garrett’s chase in pursuit of the bandit Billy the Kid. If you like reading westerns, this one and The Last Outlaws are not to be missed.
Under the Black Flag: The Romance and the Reality of Life Among the Pirates by David Cordingly. Cordingly takes a look at life among the pirates. Some of your romanticism would be squashed, but there were some good things about being a pirate too. Life among the pirates was neither black nor white; it was beige.
POLITICAL CRIMES
Arms and the Dudes: How Three Stoners from Miami Beach Became the Most Unlikely Gunrunners in History by Guy Lawson. Three kids won a 300 million dollar contract – legitimately – I must add, to supply ammunition to the Afghanistan military. They had no money, but still they almost pulled it off. I don’t know, read this book, and if you’re a US citizen, visit the websites mentioned in the book, see if they are still doing business the same way, and if you want, you can become a supplier to the army too. Don’t forget to send me my cut (the movie War Dogs was trash).
The Brother: The Untold Story of Atomic Spy David Greenglass and How He Sent His Sister, Ethel Rosenberg, to the Electric Chair by Sam Roberts. Even if you’re not a United Statian of American (USians?), chances are you might have read at least something about the execution of the Rosenberg couple as spies. This is probably the best book about the subject.
Curveball: Spies, Lies, and the Man Behind Them: How America Went to War in Iraq by Bob Drogin. How many weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq? If your answer is “what’s that?” then congratulations, you’re not unlike one of your former presidents. Who told the USians that there were WMDs with Saddam? Curveball.
The Confessions of an Economic Hitman by John Perkins. Perkins was an economic hitman, who at the instruction of US intelligence agencies and giant corporations cajoled and blackmailed other country leaders to serve US foreign policy and award lucrative contracts to American businesses (now that job has been transferred to the White House).
A Kim Jong – Il Production: The Extraordinary True Story of a Kidnapped Filmmaker, His Star Actress, and a Young Dictator’s Rise to Power by Paul Fischer. Say you want to make a big movie for your country. But there is no one in your country who can handle such an ambitious project. What do you do? Hire some talent from other country? But you’re Kim Jong – Il. Oh. Then you just kidnap them, and force them to make the glorious movie of yours. Read this book. It’s pretty absurd (the movie they eventually made for Kim was utter shit. The Room would look like Gone with the Wind compared to that abomination).
The Nuclear Jihadist: The True Story of the Man Who Sold the World’s Most Dangerous Secrets… And How We Could Have Stopped Him by Douglas Frantz, Catherine Collins. One day a man Abdul Qadeer Khan caught a plane to Pakistan from Europe. With him he had blueprints of the mechanism that could prepare weapons grade Uranium that he had stolen from the lab he worked at in the last 3 years. He would make the first atomic bomb for Pakistan with that information. Then he sold the tech to stable countries like Iran, North Korea and Libya. How can someone get away with stealing such powerful information? Read this book to find out.
Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program that Brought Nazi Scientists to America by Annie Jacobsen. This is a pretty controversial topic that has only gained wider acknowledgement in recent decades. Read this book to know in detail how bogus the claims of justice being served to the perpetrators of the Holocaust were. Basically, if you were a scientist, you were very likely to be acquitted from any War Crimes allegations.
The Real Odessa: How Peron Brought the Nazi War Criminals to Argentina by Uki Goni. How did most of the Nazis who managed to escape from Germany ended up in South America? Read about the collusion of various entities and institutions that made it possible in this book.
The Spy Who Couldn’t Spell: A Dyslexic Traitor, an Unbreakable Code, and the FBI’s Hunt for America’s Stolen Secrets by Yudhijit Bhattacharjee. This is the true story of a mole in FBI, how he attempted to sell classified information and how FBI tried to track him down.
ROBBERIES, HEISTS.
Ballad of the Whiskey Robber: A True Story of Bank Heists, Ice Hockey, Transylvanian Pelt Smuggling, Moonlighting Detectives, and Broken Hearts by Julian Rubinstein. If there is one thief in this list that I admire, it is without a doubt, Attila Ambrus. Ambrus was known as a gentleman thief, who would ask – no, request - the teller to fill his bag with money. If you read this book, it would be hard for you to dislike Attila even though he was a thief.
Confessions of a Master Jewel Thief by Bill Mason, Lee Gruenfeld. Bill Mason looted many famous personalities in his long career as a jewel thief. In this book he tells how he did it.
The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century by Kirk W. Johnson. Do you know there are people whose hobby is fly tying? The feathery thing that you attach to the hook to catch fish? But these are not your average fly tiers. They use feathers from exotic birds to create different ties whose total cost could run in thousands of dollars. Moreover, many of the most coveted birds are either protected or extinct. So one night a man named Edwin Rist broke into Tring museum and took hundreds of bird skins, some that belonged to Darwin, to fuel his hobby and even getting rich by selling precious feathers to other tiers. Don’t miss this book.
Finders Keepers: The Story of a Man Who Found $1 Million by Mark Bowden. Who hasn’t dreamt of finding a big bag of money? It couldn’t have happened to a more clueless person. Joey Coyle, to be exact.
Flawless: Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History by Scott Andrew Selby. The theft from Antwerp that still raises many questions.
Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde by Jeff Guinn. The truth is not that romantic.
The Great Pearl Heist: London’s Greatest Thief and Scotland Yard’s Hunt for the World’s Most Valuable Necklace by Molly Caldwell Crosby. Pearls, more valuable than the Hope Diamond, are stolen by thieves in Edwardian London.
The Great Train Robbery by Michael Crichton. My favorite Crichton book. Stealing gold from a running train! Watch the movie too that stars the great Sean Connery.
Heist: The Oddball Crew Behind the $17 Million Loomis Fargo Theft by Jeff Diamant. How hard is it to steal 17 million dollars? As far as these thieves were concerned, not much. Getting away with it was another thing altogether. The movie was pretty average, I think.
Into the Blast: The True Story of DB Cooper by Skipp Porteous, Robert Blevins. Is Tommy Wiseau DB Cooper? If only that was true. Read the book but don’t expect any clear-cut answers (I think most people would agree that the clumsy bastard died after he jumped from the plane).
A Pickpocket’s Tale: The Underworld of Nineteenth-Century New York by Timothy J. Gilfoyle. True story of George Appo, a pickpocket living in nineteenth-century New York.
Sex on the Moon: The Amazing Story Behind the Most Audacious Heist in History by Ben Mezrich. A guy steals moon rocks from NASA and then had sex on them with his girlfriend (how the hell is that comfortable?)
The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel. The last hermit was not a hermit in true sense. He didn’t rely on land to feed himself. He stole from the nearby community. Before someone says I have spoiled the book for them, it is revealed in the first chapter that he is a thief.
WHITE COLLAR CRIMES.
Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou. The Steve Jobs impersonator, Elizabeth Holmes, CEO of Theranos, and her old boyfriend, Sunny, are some of the most vile people that I have come across while reading about corporate crime. This is one of the best books that I have read this year.
Den of Thieves by James B. Stewart. This is probably the most famous book written about those Wall Street scoundrels.
Empire of Deception: The Incredible Story of a Master Swindler Who Seduced a City and Captivated the Nation by Dean Jobb. The story of Leo Koretz, who created one of the longest running Ponzi schemes in the 1920s Chicago.
The Informant by Kurt Eichenwald. Mark Whitacre becomes an FBI informant against his own corporation. But as time goes by, the FBI starts to realize that Mark is not as truthful as he seems to be, and he has his own agenda (they made a movie with Matt Damon).
Octopus: Sam Israel, the Secret Market, and Wall Street’s Wildest Con by Guy Lawson. Sam Israel’s hedge fund was making heavy losses. So naturally, he fabricated fake returns to fool the investors. Then he heard about a secret market from where he could convert his millions into billions. That’s how he lost the last 150 million dollars of his invertors’ money.
Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man’s Fight for Justice by Bill Browder. Only thing you are going to learn from this book is don’t do business in Russia.
The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron by Bethany McLean, Peter Elkind. Bethany McLean asked one simple question in her article when everyone else was going gaga over Enron. “What does Enron actually do?” Nobody knew. Even Enron couldn’t give a specific answer. They were not just committing accounting fraud; they were looting ordinary people by creating fake shortage of electricity and driving the prices high. The documentary is worth watching too.
Stung: The Incredible Obsession of Brian Molony by Gary Stephen Ross. The guy Molony debited huge amounts of money from the bank he worked at to feed his gambling addiction. Oh, and he took the money in other people’s name who held huge accounts there. This is one of the best true-crime books that I have ever read.
Three Cups of Deceit: How Greg Mortenson, Humanitarian Hero, Lost His Way by Jon Krakauer. You know the man who builds schools in remote regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan? Great guy, right? Krakauer doesn’t think so. And he’ll tell you why in this short book.
The Wizard of Lies: Bernie Madoff and the Death of Trust by Diana B. Henriques. 65 billion dollars. That’s the amount that Madoff swindled from people through decades of fraud. I think I can buy a small island country with this much money. The idiot is in jail though. I don’t know, maybe after a couple of billion, skip to a country with no extradition treaty and live the rest of your life without the fear of being getting caught? But then, these types of people don’t know when to stop.
OTHER.
American Roulette: How I Turned the Odds Upside Down --- My Wild Twenty-Five-Year Ride Ripping Off World’s Casinos by Richard Marcus. The guy ripped-off casinos all over the world by stealing gaming chips while maintaining an illusion of a highroller to lend his eventual take required legitimacy.
Breaking the Rock: The Great Escape from Alcatraz by Jolene Babyak. Written by the daughter of a guard at Alcatraz, this book tells the story of the infamous escape from the prison island. Don’t forget to watch the classic movie too.
Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six MIT Students Who Took Vegas for Millions by Ben Mezrich. The movie 21 was based on this book. But if you want to know the real story, without the whitewashing, you have no choice but to read this book.
Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy by Kevin Bales. Kevin Bales estimates that there are 27 million people worldwide who live as slaves, right now. And yes, slavery still exists in United States of America in case you were wondering. This is a depressing book.
Fish: A Memoir of a Boy in a Man’s Prison by T. J. Parsell. Rape in prison is absolutely overlooked almost everywhere. Read this book if you can endure reading about helplessness page after page.
Hotel K: The Shocking Inside Story of Bali’s Most Notorious Jail by Kathryn Bonella. Prison systems in developing world differ from the developed one in one regard that the guards and officials there are more corrupt and hence are likely to look the other way when something bad is going down amongst the inmates. Kerobokan Jail in Bali is one of the worst among those.
The Hot House: Life Inside Leavenworth Prison by Pete Earley. The author interviewed inmates from Leavenworth Prison for two years. The book is the result of that labor.
The Laundrymen: Inside the World’s Third Largest Business by Jeffrey Robinson. I have a perfect idea to launder money. Laser Tag! Robinson looks at the third largest business in the world. The book was published a while ago, but still hasn’t lost most of its relevancy.
Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer. Jon releases the Krakauer on one of the most relevant subjects of today. Rapes in colleges. These institutes would do anything to sweep things under the rug to maintain the illusion of clean image in the public eye.
Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing by Ted Conover. The author worked as a prison guard for a year at one of the most notorious prisons of the United States. This book is about his experience.
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Every Hitman Level Rated on Replayability

I love Hitman. It’s the only video game franchise that I’ve played in its entirety, and it’s a series I will keep playing for years to come, regardless of whether or not they ever release Hitman 3.
The key to Hitman’s greatness is its replayability. Every level has more than one solution, and the best have seemingly countless. I love sitting down with pretty much any Hitman game, loading up a favourite level, and executing a perfect hit in a way I’ve never done before. Don’t ask me about the overarching story, because I’ve only played most of these games linearly once, but ask me the best way to assassinate both targets at the fashion show and boy do I have tales to tell.
So without further ado, here’s my rundown of every level in every main Hitman game with a brief write up and an overall replayability score. It may be a little obsessive, but hey, that’s part of the fun of being a Hitman fan.
(If you’re wondering, the best way to kill both targets in at the fashion show is to push Dalia off a balcony onto Victor below. Seriously, it’s the greatest feeling in the world)
Hitman: Codename 47
This is where it all began, and it’s absolutely a game Hitman fans should play once. I don’t think it holds up all that well but it’s fascinating to see where a lot of the series’ trademarks came from. As you probably know, the majority of the levels in the game were remade in Hitman: Contracts; I think Contracts improves on them significantly, so I will be leaving them out of my Codename 47 ratings, and discussing them when we get to Hitman: Contracts.
1 - Training - Ort-Meyer’s Asylum, Romania
Here we go - our intro to Agent 47 (well, “47” here). As far as training levels go, it’s pretty decent, doing a good job of explaining gameplay mechanics, without overstaying its welcome. I’ve only ever played it once, however, and feel like I got everything I need out of it.
Replayability: ⅕
2 - Kowloon Triads in Gang War - Chiu Dai Park, Kowloon, Hong Kong
See Slaying a Dragon in Hitman: Contracts
3 - Ambush at the Wang Fou Restaurant - Wang Fou Restaurant, Kowloon, Hong Kong
See The Wang Fou Incident in Hitman: Contracts
4 - The Massacre at Cheung Chau Fish Restaurant - Cheung Chau Fish Restaurant, Kowloon, Hong Kong
See The Seafood Massacre in Hitman: Contracts
5 - The Lee Hong Assassination - Wang Fou Restaurant, Kowloon, Hong Kong
See The Lee Hong Assassination in Hitman: Contracts
6 - Find the U'wa Tribe - Colombian Jungle
The three missions in Columbia are some of my least favourite in all of Hitman-dom, simply because you have to play all three as third person shooters. Stealth is almost never an option, and it drives me INSANE.
Replayability: ⅕
7 - The Jungle God - Colombian Jungle
More of the above, and I feel worse for that little pig than any target in Hitman history.
Replayability: ⅕
8 - Say Hello to My Little Friend - Pablo Ochoa’s Camp, Colombian Jungle
Look, I don’t hate Codename 47. It’s just that the levels that weren’t remade mostly aren’t very good. Sorry, Codename 47 - this one’s gonna be a no from me.
Replayability: ⅕
9 - Traditions of the Trade - Hotel Gallàrd, Budapest
See Traditions of the Trade in Hitman: Contracts
10 - Gunrunner’s Paradise - Harbor, Rotterdam
See Deadly Cargo in Hitman: Contracts
11 - Plutonium Runs Loose - Harbor, Rotterdam
See Deadly Cargo in Hitman: Contracts
12 - The Setup - Ort-Meyer’s Asylum, Romania
I actually like this one! It can, and should, be done stealthily, and even though I don’t care very much about the overall story of Hitman, these last two levels are pretty interesting. I also like bringing patients the items they want. It’s not that replayable, but it’s definitely a cut above the Colombia ones.
Replayability: ⅖
13 - Meet Your Brother - Ort-Meyer’s Asylum, Romania
After the stealthy fun of The Setup it’s a little disappointing that the game ends with a shooting gallery. That said, killing clones of 47 is fun to do once.
Replayability: ⅕
Hitman: Codename 47 Average Replayability: ⅕
Hitman 2: Silent Assassin
This was the first game in the series I played, and my god did I love it. It improves on everything that worked about Codename 47, and ditches pretty much everything that didn’t. It doesn’t all work quite as well as I remembered, but it’s still a good game.
1 - The Gontranno Sanctuary - Vittorio’s Church, Sicily
We begin in a cute little Sicilian church, and while there isn’t anyone to kill here, I like revisiting this level from time to time because it’s very zen and 47 seems to genuinely enjoy not killing people for a change.
Replayability: ⅖
2 - Anathema - Villa Borghese, Sicily
Before we know it 47 is back to his old tricks and Diana sends him to assassinate a mafia don. The setting is certainly limited by the graphics, and there isn’t a ton to do once you get into the compound, but this has the honour of being the first proper Hitman level I ever played, and will always have a special place in my heart.
Replayability: ⅗
3 - St. Petersburg Stakeout - St. Petersburg, Russia
This is a great one. The location, the music, the time limit, and the process of elimination game you have to play to identify the general all works together to create a mission that I still enjoy going back to.
Replayability: ⅗
4 - Kirov Park Meeting - St. Petersburg, Russia
While not as good as St. Petersburg Stakeout, there’s plenty of fun to be had either sniping or bombing the targets. And that Jesper Kyd score - my god.
Replayability: ⅖
5 - Tubeway Torpedo - St. Petersburg, Russia
This one feels a bit like filler, but it’s always nice when Agent Smith pops up.
Replayability: ⅕
6 - Invitation to a Party - St. Petersburg, Russia
I love just about any Hitman mission with civilians hanging out at what would otherwise be a fairly ordinary location. Invitation to a Party fits the bill, and I think it’s a wonderful conclusion to the Russia chapter of this game.
Replayability: ⅗
7 - Tracking Hayamoto - Hayamoto’s Mansion, Honshu, Japan
Hitman in Japan is fun because Agent 47 is basically a ninja. This level isn’t amazing, but poisoning sushi while dressed up as a chef is extremely satisfying.
Replayability: ⅖
8 - Hidden Valley - Honshu, Japan
Definitely filler.
Replayability: ⅕
9 - At the Gates - Honshu, Japan
Wait, we still can’t kill Hayamoto?! If I was giving out zero scores, this would be the number one candidate.
Replayability: ⅕
10 - Shogun Showdown - Katsuyama Mansion, Honsu, Japan
It isn’t totally worth the two levels of tedium it took to get here, but Shogun Showdown is a cool level. Dressing up as a ninja and sneaking around lasers just feels so right.
Replayability: ⅖
11 - Basement Killing - Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
This level is fairly easy, but I absolutely love it. It can be done so smoothly with practice, and I find either of the three basic solutions to be a blast. I’ve completed this level waaay too many times.
Replayability: ⅘
12 - Graveyard Shift - Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
This level would feel right at home in a Splinter Cell, which is never a bad thing.
Replayability: ⅖
13 - The Jacuzzi Job - Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Everything about The Jacuzzi Job is goofy fun, from the all-female guards to the rubber duck to the fact that Charlie is totally nude. I most definitely want to make boom boom with Charlie.
Replayability: ⅗
14 - Murder at the Bazaar - Nuristan, Afghanistan
The most memorable thing about this section of the game is that 47 looks like Professor Quirrell from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
Replayability: ⅕
15 - The Motorcade Interception - Nuristan, Afghanistan
Not only is this as dull as Hidden Valley it’s incredibly frustrating too. Hard pass.
Replayability: ⅕
16 - Tunnel Rat - Nuristan, Afghanistan
Well, at least this is the last mission in Afghanistan.
Replayability: ⅕
17 - Temple City Ambush - Temple City, Punjab, India
The layout of this level isn’t anything to write home about, but the surprise of the third assassin appearing never ceases to bring a smile to my face.
Replayability: ⅖
18 - The Death of Hannelore - Temple City Palace, Punjab, India
The location is nice, but this mission’s just never done it for me.
Replayability: ⅕
19 - Terminal Hospitality - Hospital Island, Punjab, India
Like the previous mission, there’s something about this one that just doesn’t click. The clone showing up at the end is kind of neat though.
Replayability: ⅕
20 - St. Petersburg Revisited - St. Petersburg, Russia
I had forgotten how much this game sags at the end. We go BACK to St. Petersburg?!
Replayability: ⅕
21 - Redemption at Gontranno - Vittorio’s Church, Sicily
Like Codename 47, we end where we began, and like Codename 47, we unfortunately end with a shooting gallery. It’s not a bad mission, just not a very replayable one.
Replayability: ⅕
Hitman 2: Silent Assassin Average Replayability: ⅖
Hitman 2 Christmas Game
Yes I’ve played this - no, you should not.
Hitman: Contracts
Like 2018’s Hitman 2, Contracts doesn’t set out to reinvent the wheel. What it does is focus on what made Silent Assassin great and do more of that. There are a few gameplay tweaks, but as far as mechanics go, Contracts mostly stays the course. What’s so special about it is the atmosphere; it’s by far the darkest Hitman game, and every level feels wonderfully seedy and grim.
1 - Asylum Aftermath - Ort-Meyer’s Asylum, Romania
We start with the aftermath of 47 killing Ort-Meyer, and it’s a nice introduction to the basic concept of the game - revisiting the past.
Replayability: ⅖
2 - The Meat King’s Party - Slaughterhouse, Romania
Everything about this mission is completely disgusting - I love it!
Replayability: ⅘
3 - The Bjarkhov Bomb - Remote Base, Siberia, Russia
This mission feels very been-there-done-that, especially after the giddy grotesquery of The Meat King’s Party.
Replayability: ⅕
4 - Beldingford Manor - Beldingford Manor, England
Oh HELL yes. One of the best Hitman missions ever, Beldingford Manor is the perfect illustration of what this series can offer. Interesting, but believable location - check. Endless ways to complete the mission - check. Wonderfully evil targets - check. Great score - check. So. Much. Atmosphere - check, check, check. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go play Beldingford Manor for the 100th time.
Replayability: 5/5
5 - Rendezvous in Rotterdam - Flaming Rotterdam’s Compound, Rotterdam, Netherlands
Bikers are kind of the worst. I don’t like their shitty attitudes, shitty music, or shitty decorating choices. I don’t like this level.
Replayability: ⅕
6 - Deadly Cargo
This is the first full-on Codename 47 remake in the game, combining Gunrunner’s Paradise with Plutonium Runs Loose. The location isn’t the most exciting, but with a nuclear bomb to diffuse and a treasure trove of different ways to complete the mission, I’m not complaining.
Replayability: ⅘
7 - Traditions of the Trade - Hotel Galar, Budapest, Hungary
Another home run, this level is dripping with atmosphere AND features a ghost. Yes please.
Replayability: ⅘
8 - Slaying a Dragon - Chiu Dai Park, Hong Kong
This level can be completed so hilariously quickly that I never really feel like putting in the effort to try other solutions.
Replayability: ⅕
9 - The Wang Fou Incident - Wang Fou Restaurant, Hong Kong
It wouldn’t work that well story-wise, but these Hong Kong missions should probably have been combined Deadly Cargo-style. They’re just too simple on their own.
Replayability: ⅕
10 - The Seafood Massacre - Cheung Chau Fish Restaurant, Hong Kong
This one is quite fun, and framing someone else for murder is always a good time.
Replayability: ⅖
11 - The Lee Hong Assassination - Wang Fou Restaurant, Hong Kong
It’s not a bad end to the Lee Hong series of levels, but it’s a bit anticlimactic. Agent Smith raises its pedigree slightly.
Replayability: ⅖
12 - Hunter and Hunted - Hotel, Paris, France
47 goes full Leon: The Professional and it’s glorious. Playing Contracts for the first time, a part of me knew this mission must be coming, but actually playing 47s impossible escape blew my expectations away. A superb end to a very underrated game.
Replayability: 5/5
Hitman: Contracts Average Replayability: ⅗
Hitman: Blood Money
What more can be said about Blood Money? It’s the game where everything just fell into place.
1 - Death of a Showman - Southland Amusement Park, Baltimore, USA
It’s a testament to the greatness of Blood Money that even the training mission is excellent. It’s not as replayable as some of the truly legendary levels this game has to offer, but Death of a Showman is the perfect introduction to everyone’s favourite Hitman game.
Replayability: ⅗
2 - A Vintage Year - Colchagua Valley Vineyard, Chile
This is a very good Hitman level, but it hasn’t stuck with me the way some of Blood Money has.
Replayability: ⅗
3 - Curtains Down - Garnier Opera House, Paris, France
This is one of those levels that you can point to and say, “THAT’S what Hitman is.” It’s Hitchcockian in its construction, gorgeous, and may feature the most satisfying kill in any Hitman game. And can I mention how fantastic the mission titles are in Blood Money?
Replayability: 5/5
4 - Flatline - Pine Cone Rehabilitation Centre, California, USA
Three targets AND you get to rescue Agent Smith. Hitman had done medical centres before, but this was the best yet by far. 47 in a robe makes me chuckle every time.
Replayability: ⅘
5 - A New Life - Suburbs, San Diego, USA
Dear god this game just keeps knocking it out of the park. This may be my favourite Hitman level of all time, and it all comes down to the simple location. There’s something so twisted about watching 47 stalk his prey in the suburbs; it’s like Michael Myers in Halloween. It’s an inversion of everyday life, and a brilliant examination of the darkness that can lurk just below the surface.
Replayability: 5/5
6 - The Murder of Crows - New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
The (ahem) hits keep coming. I sometimes forget just how many great levels Blood Money contains. This is the first Hitman level to feature a colossal amount of NPCs and IO Interactive really uses them to their full advantage. Pushing through a raucous crowd while wearing a bird costume - perfection.
Replayability: ⅘
7 - You Better Watch Out… - Rocky Mountains, USA
Perhaps it’s due to the quadruple whammy preceding it, but this level doesn’t totally work for me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good, but not quite Blood Money good.
Replayability: ⅖
8 - Death on the Mississippi - Emily, Mississippi, USA
This is a damn good mission, and I love how many targets there are.
Replayability: ⅗
9 - Till Death Do Us Part - Mississippi, USA
I’m truly torn over whether to give this a 4 or a 5. It’s wonderful, but maybe not quiiiite top tier. Maybe. I dunno - it’s amazing. This is really a 4.5
Replayability: ⅘
10 - A House of Cards - Shamal Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, USA
They really nail the feel of Vegas here, but something about this mission has never totally drawn me in.
Replayability: ⅖
11 - A Dance with the Devil - The Shark Club, Las Vegas, USA
The concept for this level alone is mindblowing, but the (ahem) execution is just as flawless. This game is so good it makes me cry.
Replayability: 5/5
12 - Amendment XXV - White House, Washington, USA
Blood Money takes place mostly in America, so where better to have the final full level than the White House? It doesn’t quite reach the dizzying highs of some of Blood Money’s missions, but this is a supremely satisfying almost-finale.
Replayability: ⅘
13 - Requiem - Unknown, USA
Ok, remember when I said I don’t really care about Hitman’s story? Or when I said I don’t like shooting galleries? Somehow all of that melts away in Requiem, and I’m left absolutely floored by this ending. As a mission it’s quick, but as a conclusion to the best Hitman game - flawless.
Replayability: 5/5
Hitman: Blood Money Average Replayability: ⅘
Hitman: Vegas
Well I thought I played all the Hitman games. There’s a great video review of this here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SbgKsgKZS8s and it does kind of make me want to give it a shot.
Hitman: Sniper Challenge
The first of three sniper games, Sniper Challenge is fun. I’m not going to include it in my rankings because it’s so different in concept, but it’s definitely worth checking out.
Hitman: Absolution
Ok, let’s talk about Hitman: Absolution. It’s...a really good game, and if it wasn’t called Hitman I don’t think many people would complain. Compared to Blood Money, Absolution is indeed a bit of a misstep for the series. There’s less freedom or need to experiment, and those are two of Hitman’s greatest strengths. Here’s the thing though - I will never hold it against an artist for trying something new. That’s what art is all about. Did the changes totally work? No. So they course-corrected, and four years later gave us exactly what we asked for. This game also looks and sounds great. Textures, lighting effects, and NPC dialogue are polished until they gleam. The gameplay is by far the smoothest the series had ever seen, and they even came up with a solid story, told through well produced cut scenes. I’m just gonna say it - I’m a fan of Absolution. Please don’t hate me.
1 - A Personal Contract - Outskirts of Chicago, USA
The target’s Diana?! Right off the bat Absolution takes a hard left turn, and I’d put this training mission up right up there with Death of a Showman. It does a fantastic job of explaining how the game works (including the much-maligned but actually really fun point shooting feature), and looks absolutely stunning.
Replayability: ⅗
2 - The King of Chinatown - Chinatown, Chicago, USA
I think even Absolution haters would have to admit this level is awesome. There are endless way to kill the King, and having them all be in such a contained space is really impressive.
Replayability: ⅘
3 - Terminus - Terminus Hotel, Chicago, USA
This mission is...kind of dull. If all of Absolution were like this I’d definitely be in the “not a fan” camp. I’m giving it an extra point for the scary bear and the really cool way it ends.
Replayability: ⅖
4 - Run for Your Life - Chicago, USA
Here is where this game very much announces how different it is from other Hitman games. This feels like a mission from a completely different series and I enjoy it a lot.
Replayability: ⅗
5 - Hunter and Hunted - The Vixen Club, Chicago, USA
This mission is great! Going from the stripclub to Chinatown feels like something from 2016’s Hitman, and a quick glance at all the challenges available demonstrates just how much this level has to offer.
Replayability: ⅘
6 - Rosewood - Rosewood Orphanage, Chicago, USA
This one’s OK. Starting with carrying Victoria is very tense and atmospheric, but once that part’s over the rest of the mission isn’t that memorable.
Replayability: ⅖
7 - Welcome to Hope - Hope, South Dakota, USA
This mission is mostly cutscenes AND features bikers. No thank-you.
Replayability: ⅕
8 - Birdie’s Gift - Hope, South Dakota, USA
Even though the mission is very easy to complete, I love this location. They totally nailed the look and feel of this particular kind of place and sneaking through a shooting range is terrifying in all the best ways. This is also a fun location for target practice.
Replayability: ⅗
9 - Shaving Lenny - Hope, South Dakota, USA
Having the Hope Cougars be a 1950’s style greaser gang makes me so very happy. Another gorgeous location, with plenty of targets and lots of ways to get the job done.
Replayability: ⅗
10 - End of the Road - Desert, USA
This level is a work of genius. It’s a brilliant subversion of everything we expect from a Hitman game, and once you start experimenting there are practically endless ways to complete a level that can technically be beaten in three seconds.
Replayability: 5/5
11 - Dexter Industries - Hope, South Dakota, USA
This mission has a great opening cutscene, but for the most part it’s pretty bland.
Replayability: ⅕
12 - Death Factory - Hope, South Dakota, USA
There’s sooo many ways to complete this mission, but for whatever reason the layout of the level just doesn’t appeal to me so I rarely come back to it.
Replayability: ⅖
13 - Fight Night - Dexter Industries, Hope, USA
Dressing up as a luchador and killing Sanchez in the ring is really fun, but there’s not a ton else to do here.
Replayability: ⅖
14 - Attack of the Saints - Waikiki Inn, Hope, USA
This is another great location, but let’s face it, there’s only one correct way to do this, and it’s dressed as a scarecrow. But I will happily dress as a scarecrow over and over again.
Replayability: ⅗
15 - Skurky’s Law - Hope, South Dakota, USA
Another very solid level, with some fun disguises, and a cameo from Kane!
Replayability: ⅗
16 - Operation Sledgehammer - Hope, South Dakota, USA
Operation Sledgehammer is OK, but the best part by far is just walking towards the church at the end; it’s epic.
Replayability: ⅖
17 - One of a Kind - Chicago, USA
There’s not much to do here, save for some cool Hitman easter eggs.
Replayability: ⅕
18 - Blackwater Park - Blackwater Park, Chicago, USA
The game is definitely dragging at this point and the part with Layla trying to seduce 47 only to have him murder her is really mean-spirited.
Replayability: ⅕
19 - Countdown - Chicago, USA
The fog is awesome, the countdown adds a great level of tension, and pushing people off the roof is a blast.
Replayability: ⅘
20 - Absolution - Cornwall, England
This mission feels pretty tacked on, especially after Countdown, but 47 saying “You’ll never know” makes the whole thing worth it.
Replayability: ⅖
Hitman: Absolution Average Replayability: ⅗
Hitman Go
Hitman chilled out for a bit and released a couple more mobile games. I’m not going to include either in my level rankings because they aren’t typical Hitman levels at all, but Hitman Go is a must-play for any Hitman fan. It’s equal parts delightful and challenging, and every level is a minimalist work of art.
Hitman: Sniper
Hitman: Sniper is also worth checking out. It’s bogged down by the usual mobile game unlockable nonsense, but there’s still plenty of fun to be had here, and it’s ridiculously cheap if you don’t fall for any of the microtransactions.
Hitman
I’m a little bit torn on Hitman. Let’s start with the good: Sapienza and Hokkaido are fantastic locations that I can literally play endlessly. IO has fully embraced the sandbox nature of these games and when it all works it’s as good as Hitman has ever been. But...I really miss the personality of Contracts, Blood Money, and Absolution. It’s easier to create atmosphere when levels are smaller and more contained - that’s why a lot of open world games aren’t very distinctive. The massive levels in Hitman just haven’t stuck with me the way some of the best missions in other Hitman have. That said, all I need to do is load up Sapienza, Hokkaido, or Paris and I’m pretty much guaranteed a great time. This game is a little tough to break into missions since there so many are twists on the six main locations so I’m only going to focus on the story ones. I debated doing a write up for Patient Zero but considering it’s also in existing locations I’ll just say that it’s totally worth playing at least once, especially the final level, which is bananas. And I also want to give IO a shout out for their commitment to players. They were releasing content for Hitman pretty much up until the release of Hitman 2, and they really, really seem to care about everyone who plays this game having something new to do whenever they boot it up.
1 - Freeform Training - ICA Training Facility, Greenland
I love the idea of having training be in a simulated ICA environment - it’s a great tongue in cheek nod to the artifice of games themselves, especially training levels. Knowing that everyone in the level is just acting gives every playthrough an added level of enjoyment and the general shittiness of the fake boat is perfect.
Replayability: ⅘
2 - The Final Test - ICA Training Facility, Greenland
I could have stood to have only one simulated environment - two seems like overkill.
Replayability: ⅖
3 - The Showstopper - Palais de Walewska, Paris, France
This level really feels like IO announcing that they listened to fans’ reaction to Absolution. It has more ways to complete it than any previous Hitman level and really rewards multiple playthroughs. The targets aren’t all that memorable, but this is a welcome return to Agent 47’s roots.
Replayability: ⅘
4 - World of Tomorrow - Sapienza, Italy
Sapienza takes everything that makes The Showstopper work and cranks it up to 11. The location is maybe the prettiest in any Hitman game, the layout is perfect, and it’s a blast to walk around in 47’s casual clothes and just hang out in this perfect little Italian town.
Replayability: 5/5
5 - A Gilded Cage - Marrakesh, Morocco
This one’s a bit of a bummer. It’s competent but just isn’t all that fun.
Replayability: ⅖
6 - Club 27 - Bangkok, Thailand
Definitely an improvement over Marrakesh, but not as good as Paris or Sapienza.
Replayability: ⅗
7 - Freedom Fighters - Colorado, USA
Oh man - I really dislike this mission. It’s bland and easy and just feels like something from a much worse stealth game.
Replayability: ⅕
8 - Situs Inversus - Hokkaido, Japan
Luckily, Hitman totally sticks the landing. Situs Inversus is even better than Flatline. It’s equal parts tranquille and creepily sterile, plus 47 gets to dress up as a ninja and run across rooftops with a samurai sword. It’s a perfect ending.
Replayability: 5/5
Hitman Average Replayability: ⅗
Hitman 2
Hitman 2 is to Hitman what Contracts was to Silent Assassin; It’s so similar that you can even play all of Hitman 1 within it, utilizing all of the updated gameplay features. But, like Contracts, Hitman 2 takes everything that worked in Hitman and doubles down on it, creating a truly immersive experience. Each location has a distinct atmosphere and there’s a running theme of how unsustainable wealth and power is. This is the best Hitman game since Blood Money - it might be the best Hitman game ever made. IO, now an independent studio, includes another fun sniper mode called Sniper Assassin, and there’s even multiplayer for the first time. Ghost Mode basically pits you against Agent 47 from an alternate universe and you compete with another player to try and get the best score on a level - it’s fantastic. There’s also plenty of single-player DLC yet to be released. It saddens me that the game isn’t doing super well commercially, and I really, really hope there will someday be a Hitman 3. I’m on board for life, IO, and I know a lot of other people are too.
1 - Nightcall - Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand
Nightcall features a nice location and there are quite a few ways to get the job done, but I definitely prefer the training level in Hitman.
Replayability: ⅖
2 - The Finish Line - Miami, USA
Oh man - this is one for the ages. There’s so much to do, and it feels like four levels all in one. Every mission story is worth playing, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I’ll be playing this one for years to come.
Replayability: 5/5
3 - Three-Headed Serpent - Santa Fortuna, Colombia
The only Codename 47 location that had never been revisited was Colombia and Three-Headed Serpent makes the return trip worth the wait. It’s nothing like the Colombia missions in Codename 47, but it’s a great level. I’ve barely scratched the surface of all the things to do, and the three distinct elements - the military, the wealth, and the drugs - all play beautifully off one another.
Replayability: ⅘
4 - Chasing a Ghost - Mumbai, India
This level really shows off how much better the voice acting is in Hitman 2 compared to Hitman. Mumbai feels truly alive, and the level’s tight, labyrinthian structure is so packed with authentic details I would often stop just to marvel at the sun blazing from behind a skyscraper or to appreciate the all the little elements that were combined to create the laundry foreman’s office building. Trying to find the Maelstrom isn’t quite as fun as I hoped it would be, however, and I think the mission could have done without him.
Replayability: ⅘
5 - Another Life - Whittleton Creek, Vermont, USA
As a huge fan of A New Life, this feels like a level created just for me (though I’m sure there are many, many other New Life fans out there). The scale of this compared to the original absolutely blows me away, and like the original, discovering all the darkness hiding beneath the veneer of small-town Americana makes for a wonderful juxtaposition. Whether it’s a creepy basement full of poison and baking or a politician with some truly reprehensible ideas, it’s eminently clear that 47 isn’t the only boogeyman in town.
Replayability: 5/5
6 - The Ark Society - Isle of Sgàil, North Atlantic Ocean
All the themes of class structure and wealth disparity come to a head in a perfect final mission. This article by Cameron Kunzelman beautifully articulates what makes this level, and Hitman as a whole, so special: https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/4397e3/hitman-2-makes-you-the-catastrophe-everyone-is-dreading
I’ll end by saying that I encountered a bug during my first playthrough of this mission and was unable to load any of my saves, forcing me to restart. With most games this would be a chore, but with Hitman I eagerly dove back in, and immediately discovered a completely new way to take out a target. That’s why I love Hitman so much.
Replayability: 5/5
Hitman 2 Average Replayability: 4/5
submitted by MagnoliaFan37 to HiTMAN [link] [comments]

My List Of True Crime Books That Are (Primarily) Not About Murder.

Cross-posting my list from books.
ART THIEVES, FORGERS, SMUGGLERS.
The Art of the Steal by Christopher Mason. A true story about the auction houses Sotheby’s and Christie’s and how they conspired to cheat their clients out of millions of dollars.
The Billionaire’s Vinegar: The Mystery of the World’s Most Expensive Bottle of Wine by Benjamin Wallace. The most expensive bottle of wine and the conflicting reports about its history. This is a book that would enchant wine conessi… conues… lovers.
The Gardner Heist: The True Story of the World’s Largest Unsolved Art Theft by Ulrich Boser. Author Ulrich Boser looks at the unsolved art theft case of Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.
The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness, and Greed by John Vaillant. Grant Hadwin, a logger-turned-activist, fells a unique 165 feet Sitka spruce in an act of protest. John Vaillant takes the readers into the heart of North America’s last great forest to find out why he did that.
Hitler’s Art Thief: Hildebrand Gurlitt, the Nazis, and the Looting of Europe’s Treasures by Susan Ronald. Hildebrand Gurlitt was an art thief, or as he put it himself, an ‘official dealer’ for Hitler and Goebbels. But he stole from the Jews and Nazis alike. This book was published after his hoard was recently (2013) discovered which created an international furor.
The Irish Game: A True Story of Crime and Art by Matthew Hart. This book is about the art theft at Ireland’s Russborough House in 1986. The suspect, a gangster named Martin Cahill, played cat and mouse with police for years.
The Island of Lost Maps: A True Story of Cartographic Crime by Miles Harvey. When you think about stealing some valuable art, do maps come to your mind? Then this book is for you. Gilbert Joseph Bland Jr. stole numerous centuries-old maps from research libraries in US and Canada.
I Was Vermeer: The Rise and Fall of the Twentieth Century’s Greatest Forger by Frank Wynne. Han van Meegeren became so much adapt at forging Vermeer paintings that it is said that even professional experts would find it difficult to point out his works from the originals. He earned more than $50 million by selling his forgeries – and he even swindled the Nazis.
The Lizard King: The True Crimes and Passions of the World’s Greatest Reptile Smugglers by Bryan Christy. Reptile smuggling is a big “business”. The author, a federal agent, suspected a reptile business owner of being a major smuggler and he started investigating. It was not as simple as it sounds because at one point he was chased by a mother alligator and even bitten by a python.
The Lost Chalice: The Epic Hunt for a Priceless Masterpiece by Vernon Silver. A 2500 year old cup made by the Greek master Euphronios which depicted the fall of Troy gets stolen and sold (along with 3 other such vessels). Then due to the questionable practice of some art dealers, no one can track down its last known owner.
The Lost Painting by Jonathan Harr. With nothing better to do, the author embarks on a journey to discover a Caravaggio painting which was lost to time two hundred years ago.
The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession by Allison Hoover Bartlett. John Charles Gilkey stole rare books not because he wanted to make profit as most thieves do, but because he loved books. I guess if you want to call yourself a book-reader but don’t actually want to say… read a book, you could just steal them and show them off to your friends. But who are we to question the wisdom of “booklovers”, right?
The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Beauty and Obsession by Susan Orlean. If you thought that stealing maps is a weird “job” to have, how about stealing a rare breed of flower? We all know about the Tulipomania that gripped Netherlands in the 1630s. But this is a modern tale, and the book is perhaps one of the most popular ones on this list.
Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World’s Stolen Treasures by Robert K. Wittman, John Shiffman. This book is about Robert K. Wittman, FBI’s founder of the Art Crime Team and his undercover missions around the world to rescue various pieces of stolen art.
Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art by Laney Salisbury. You could have a Jackson Pollock lying around in your basement, but if you can’t prove that the piece is real, you might as well use it as a table cloth (I might have exaggerated there a bit, but you get the point). John Myatt, a struggling artist, and John Drewe, a conman who knew the importance of Provenance in the art world, duped many people and museums by creating a fake paper trial that seemed to prove that the art was a real thing and not a forgery. So much so that the experts believe that there might still be some fake paintings created by Myatt displayed in prominent places as the real thing.
The Rescue Artist: A True Story of Art, Thieves, and the Hunt for a Missing Masterpiece by Edward Dolnick. Dolnick writes about the theft of Edvard Munch’s The Scream from the National Gallery in Oslo in 1994 and the subsequent investigation that took place to track it down.
Selling Hitler by Robert Harris In mid-eighties, Hitler’s diaries were “discovered” and many experts fell for the con. The backpeddling many did when it was revealed that the diaries were not real is really amusing to read about.
Shell Games: Rogues, Smugglers, and the Hunt for Nature’s Bounty by Craig Welch. This book is about the poaching of a larger-than-life clam – a Geoduck, to be precise, and the subsequent chase from the wildlife police to nab the poacher.
Stealing History: Tomb Raiders, Smugglers and the Looting of the Ancient World by Roger Atwood. This book provides a sweeping history of thefts of various priceless antiques.
Stealing the Mystic Lamb: The True Story of the World’s Most Coveted Masterpiece by Noah Charney. The twelve panel oil-painting of the Mystic Lamb is the most frequently stolen artwork in the world. It was stolen 13 times. One wonders whether they could have guarded it a little better after the first couple of times, you know. Anyway, this book describes the events of each theft.
Stolen World: A Tale of Reptiles, Smugglers, and Skulduggery by Jennie Erin Smith. Two reptile smugglers compete against each other to conquer the illegal trade for themselves. The funny thing is, the Zoos stood against them in the courts, but they had no problem buying rare fauna from the two smugglers, sometimes simultaneously.
Tangled Vines: Greed, Murder, Obsession, and an Arsonist in the Vineyards of California by Frances Dinkelspiel. A massive fire destroyed wines worth $250 million in a California warehouse, making it the largest destruction of wine in history. It was done by a conman named Mark Anderson, who rented storage space at the same warehouse. This book tells why he did that and also goes into the surprisingly bloody history of wine trade in California. (reads well with cranberry juice).
Vanished Smile: The Mysterious Theft of Mona Lisa by R. A. Scotti. On August 21, 1911, a man walked out of the Louvre with the Mona Lisa tucked inside his coat (should have painted it bigger, eh Vinci?). I am not going to spoil this book for anyone. Read it if you want to know whether Mona Lisa was recovered or was lost to time forever.
CARTELS, GANGS, UNDERWORLD.
American Desperado: My Life --- From Mafia Soldier to Cocaine Cowboy to Secret Government Asset by Jon Roberts, Evan Wright. Jon Roberts, who starred in documentary Cocaine Cowboys tells his story to the journalist Evan Wright in this book. Roberts smuggled drugs to Miami for the Medellin Cartel (which will feature many times in this category).
At the Devil’s Table: The Untold Story of the Insider Who Brought Down the Cali Cartel by William C. Rempel. This is Narcos Season 3, basically. Remember the family guy who gets involved with the Cali Cartel and mops around for the whole season even though he had an unbelievably hot wife who was clearly out of his league? That character was based on Rempel. And if I must say so, the book is more compelling than that season of Narcos. Nothing can beat Agent Pena, though.
Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob by Dick Lehr, Gerard O’Neill. The story of James ‘Whitey’ Bulger – the head of the Irish Mob in Boston - who became an informant for the FBI and chaos ensued. Depp plays Whitey Bulger in the movie adaptation with a soggy tortilla glued to his face as make-up.
Blow: How a Small -Town Bay Made $100 Million with the Medellin Cocaine Cartel and Lost it All by Bruce Porter. Another book where Johnny Depp plays the main character in the movie adaptation. This book is about George Jung, who after meeting Carlos Lehder, started selling cocaine in the United States through Medellin Cartel.
Cocaine Diaries: A Venezuelan Prison Nightmare by Paul Keany, Jeff Farrell. Paul Keany was caught smuggling half-a-million euro worth of cocaine into Venezuela. He was sentenced to 8 years in prison. Now, prisons everywhere aren’t exactly fun places to be, but Los Teques where Keany was incarcerated was nothing short of hell on earth.
Confessions of a Yakuza by Junichi Saga. Junichi Saga was a doctor by profession. A patient, who was a former Yakuza, recounted his life story before him. Saga recorded the conversations, and broke doctor-patient confidentiality by writing this book.
Doctor Dealer: The Rise and Fall of an All-American Boy and His Multimillion-Dollar Cocaine Empire by Mark Bowden. A dentist named Larry Lavin builds the foundation for a cocaine empire in the United States.
Donnie Brasco by Joseph D. Pistone, Richard Woodley. Joseph D. Pistone, an FBI agent, goes undercover for six years to infiltrate the Mafia. Do watch the movie too, it is Depp’s last movie without weird make-up.
El Narco: Inside Mexico’s Criminal Insurgency by Ioan Grillo. Journalist Ioan Grillo has written, arguably, the definitive book on Mexican drug cartels. Why he is still alive is anybody’s guess.
Gang Leader for a Day: A Rouge Sociologist Takes to the Streets by Sudhir Venkatesh. Venkatesh, who was a sociology grad student at the time, infiltrated one of Chicago’s most notorious gangs. This is one of a kind type of book.
Gomorrah by Roberto Saviano. This book is about the Italian Crime Network called Camorra in Naples, Italy. Due to his intensive investigative journalism which exposed lot of insider information about the crime syndicate, author Saviano still has to live under constant police protection.
The Good Mothers: The True Story of the Women Who Took on the World’s Most Powerful Mafia by Alex Perry. This is a recent book, where the author Alex Perry looks inside the ruthless Calabrian Mafia of Italy and three women who want to save their own and their children’s lives. This is a fascinating and courageous look into an aspect of the Mafia which is often overlooked by most.
Hunting El Chapo: The Inside Story of the American Lawman Who Captured the World’s Most Wanted Drug-Lord by Andrew Hogan, Douglas Century. Remember when Joaquin Guzman was caught for the first time and then he escaped and then he was caught again for good? Yes? Then read this one. But this book only focuses on the operation that nabbed him for the first time. I must warn you though – the author, Andrew Hogan – is really really in love with himself and it seeps into his writing.
The Infiltrator: My Secret Life Inside the Dirty Banks Behind Pablo Escobar’s Medellin Cartel by Robert Mazur. Mazur went undercover and actually became a money launderer for Pablo Escobar. This book is more about how bankers actively helped to launder the drug money and how Mazur helped to bring them down.
Killing Pablo: The Hunt for the World’s Greatest Outlaw by Mark Bowden. This is the best book about tracking and eventually killing Pablo Escobar. And as Walter Jr. pointed out to Walter White, it focuses on the good guys, not the bad ones. Good companion book to Pablo Escobar: My Father written by Escobar’s son.
Marching Powder: A True Story of Friendship, Cocaine, and South America’s Strangest Jail by Rusty Young. The author stays inside San Pedro jail for months with a drug smuggler to chronicle his tale. This is one of the most popular books written on cocaine smuggling.
McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld by Misha Glenny. This is a thorough investigation into organized crime worldwide which accounts for 1/5th of total GDP of the world. This book would please readers who are into extensively researched true-crime history books, not so much a casual reader (inb4 - I just read 5 pages of McMafia and wow… just wow).
Mr. Blue: Memoirs of a Renegade by Edward Bunker. Edward Bunker had had an eventful life. Incarceration for two and a half decades, being on FBI’s most wanted list, and being a crime novelist. This is his autobiography.
Mr. Nice by Howard Marks. Howard Marks started dealing dope in small quantities while he was studying at Oxford – as you do – and then eventually graduated to dealing it in tons (what the hell was he studying there? Oh, philosophy). This is his fascinating story.
Narcoland: The Mexican Drug Lords and Their Godfathers by Anabel Hernandez. Yet another book that resulted in the author getting death threats. This proves the old cliché true that the pen is mightier than the sword; until the sword comes down and cuts your neck. That’s why the author has to live under constant protection.
Narconomics: How to Run a Drug Cartel by Tom Wainwright. Any aspiring drug lords should read this instruction manual. Just kidding. Wainwright goes deep into the functioning of various drug cartels and at the end also comes up with a plan to defeat them.
News of a Kidnapping by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Little known author tries his hand at true-crime. Pablo Escobar kidnapped 10 journalists when he was on the run from the authorities. This book revolves around that event.
The Night it Rained Guns: Unravelling the Purulia Arms Drop Conspiracy by Chandan Nandy. On a December night in 1995, someone airdropped three weapons-laden wooden pallets over Purulia, West Bengal. Who did it and why? This book tells the story about one of India’s greatest ever security breaches.
No Angel: My Undercover Journey to the Inner Circle of the Hells Angels by Jay Dobyns, Nils Johnson-Shelton. Dobyns was the first federal agent to infiltrate the inner circle of the notorious biker gang. This is his story.
Pablo Escobar: My Father by Juan Pablo Escobar. Juan Pablo is an architect and lives and practices his trade in Argentina. Even though Pablo was his father, Juan does not try to justify his actions even a little bit. This is one of the best books written on Pablo Escobar.
The Snakehead: An Epic Tale of the Chinatown Underworld and the American Dream by Patrick Radden Keefe. Sister Ping, leader of the Chinese underworld in the US, earned $40 million a year smuggling people from China. Told from the viewpoints of gangsters, investigators, and poor immigrants alike, this book provides a unique window into the world of human smuggling.
Scores: How I Opened the Hottest Strip Club in New York City, Was Extorted out of Millions by the Gambino Family, and Became One of the Most Successful Mafia Informants in FBI History by Michael D. Blutrich. I am disappointed that they went with FBI instead of Federal Bureau of Investigation in the title. Should have made it longer. Scores: How I Opened the Hottest Strip Club in New York City on the 34th Street Just Opposite the Starbucks, Was Extorted out of 4.54 Millions and 55 Cents Plus Taxes by the Gambino Family, and Became One of the Most Successful Mafia Informants in Federal Bureau of Investigation History by Michael Dostoyevsky Blutrich
Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan by Jake Adelstein. The author, working as a reporter in Japan, writes about the seedy underbelly of crime in the country.
The Untouchables by Eliot Ness, Oscar Fraley. Where’s Nitty? He’s in the car.” Great movie. How Eliot Ness and his team started the downward spiral in criminal career of Al Capone. A somewhat embellished account was also written in the book, but nonetheless, it is a gripping tale.
Veerappan: Chasing the Brigand by K. Vijay Kumar. Koose Muniswamy Veerappan was the last big outlaw of India. A sandalwood smuggler who lived in the forest to evade the police, Veerappan killed hundreds of policemen and civilians. K. Vijay Kumar, the officer who led the task force that ultimately brought down the brigand, is the author of this book.
Wiseguy: Life in a Mafia Family by Nicholas Pileggi. ” I’m funny how, I mean funny like I’m a clown, I amuse you? Goodfellas is perhaps the best Mafia movie ever made, so read it in his own words why Pileggi might fold under questioning.
Zero Zero Zero by Roberto Saviano, Virginia Jewiss. This Saviano guy must have a death wish. But as a handsome list-writer once eloquently said, “If bitten already by a King Cobra, what difference it makes if you French kiss a Black Mamba?” Since the publication of his book on the Italian crime syndicate, Saviano has to live under constant police protection. So to make sure they don’t slack off, he wrote a book on Cocaine Cartel, this time acquiring lots of admirers in Latin America.
CONMEN, IMPOSTORS.
The Art of Making Money: The Story of a Master Counterfeiter by Jason Kersten. The Art of making money is to make other people work for you; not the other way round. But more scrupulous method of making money would be to counterfeit it. Art Williams did exactly that.
Catch Me If You Can: The True Story of a Real Fake by Frank W. Abagnale. Maybe the most popular book on this list, Abagnale Jr.’s book is not to be missed even if you have watched the movie starring the actor who had sex with a bear (no, not Tormund).
Charlatan: America’s Most Dangerous Huckster, the Man Who Pursued Him, and the Age of Flimflam by Pope Brock. One “Dr.” John R. Brinkley, set-up a medical practice to surgically insert goat glands in human testicles to restore their fading sex drive. I am not joking, this happened.
Conman: A Master Swindler’s Own Story by J. R. Weil, W. T. Brannon. Known as “Yellow Kid” Weil was a master conman, who duped public of more than $8 million 100 years ago. He’s called by many as the greatest conman of all time (second to the companies that charge service fees on the internet, of course).
Eyeing the Flash: The Making of a Carnival Con Artist by Peter Fenton. Fenton was a math student until he turned into a carnival con artist. How many bananas he stole from the monkeys? How many bales of potatoes from the elephants? Read this book to find out.
Inconvenient People: Lunacy, Liberty and the Mad-Doctors in Victorian England by Sarah Wise. If you have any annoying friends who romanticize the Victorian era and say that they would have liked to live there, tell them to read this book and get back to you after that.
The Man in the Rockefeller Suit: The Astonishing Rise and Spectacular Fall of a Serial Impostor by Mark Seal. This is the true story of one of the greatest impostors of all time. The man could have impersonated a chihuahua if he wanted to.
The Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower by James Francis Johnson. Viktor Lustig sold the Eiffel Tower not once, but twice. I still have the relevant papers that my great grandfather left us. I’m going to shift it to Nauru or Detroit.
The Mark Inside: A Perfect Swindle, a Cunning Revenge, and a Small History of the Big Con by Amy Reading. This is a revenge story of a man who sets out to con the conmen who conned him twice. Unfortunately, the book could have been written better, but it is still worth having a look at.
Playing Dead: A Journey Through the World of Death Fraud by Elizabeth Greenwood. I once tried playing dead in a meeting when asked about the progress on my project. But there are people who fake their death for lesser gains, such as insurance fraud and debt fraud. Author Elizabeth Greenwood journeys into the dark world of death fraud to find out more.
Ponzi’s Scheme: The True Story of a Financial Legend by Mitchell Zuckoff. Charles Ponzi was so successful in duping people that we have immortalized his name by terming such swindles after him. At one point, he was raking in $2 millions a week. How many weeks would it take you to earn 2 million dollars at your current income? (sorry, that got heavy fast. It hurt me too).
A Rum Affair: A True Story of Botanical Fraud by Karl Sabbagh. One botanist claimed that some species of plants on the islands south of Scotland survived the last Ice Age. Another botanist doubted him. This might not sound like a big fraud if you are not into plants, but believe me when I say that the 2 botanists who just read this threw their phones away in disgust and disbelief.
Starvation Heights: A True Story of Murder and Malice in the Woods of the Pacific Northwest by Gregg Olsen. A quack doctor named Linda Hazard developed a technique called “fasting treatment”. The story focuses on two sisters who fell for the quack’s assurances that they would be cured of all the diseases - real or imagined. This book is quite infuriating to read. Hazard was a despicable human being.
Swindled: From Poison Sweets to Counterfeit Coffee – The Dark History of the Food Cheats by Bee Wilson. Wilson looks from ancient Rome to current times for food frauds. And she finds them aplenty (companion read - while having a nice snack).
A Treasury of Deception: Liars, Misleaders, Hoodwinkers, and the Extraordinary True Stories of History’s Greatest Hoaxes, Fakes and Frauds by Michael Farquhar. This is a good bathroom book about fakers through history.
The Woman Who Wasn’t There: The True Story of an Incredible Deception by Robin Gaby Fisher, Angelo J. Guglielmo Jr. Have you heard about Tania Head? If you haven’t, I urge you to skip this book. Tania Head duped survivors of 9/11 and the whole world alike into believing that she was one of the survivors from the South Tower of World Trade Center. I feel enraged just by typing this. So just read this book if you want to know more about her. There are a couple of documentaries out there too.
HACKERS.
The Cuckoo’s Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage by Clifford Stoll. Long before internet became a place for cat memes, Cliff Stoll was working at a research lab as a systems manager. One day he found 75 cents of accounting error. This made him alert that an unauthorized person was logging into the system. Thus began his lone effort of tracking down the spy.
Exploding the Phone: The Untold Story of the Teenagers and Outlaws Who Hacked Ma Bell by Phil Lapsley. Before there was internet, or even personal computers, mobsters and teenagers hacked the telephone system.
Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker by Kevin D. Mitnick, William L. Simon. The book tells the story of one of the best hackers of all times, Kevin Mitnick, and his cat and mouse game with the FBI.
The Spider Network: The Wild Story of a Math Genius, a Gang of Backstabbing Bankers, and One of the Greatest Scams in Financial History by David Enrich. A group of bankers manipulated daily interest rates just a fraction here and there on loans worth trillions of dollars and made some serious cash for themselves. This book also rocks one of the ugliest book covers of 2017.
MUTINEERS, PIRATES, OUTLAWS.
Batavia’s Graveyard: The True Story of the Mad Heretic Who Led History’s Bloodiest Mutiny by Mike Dash. I was torn whether to include this book in the list as the history of Batavia’s mutiny is littered with corpses. But as the focus is on the mutiny, I am going to keep it here. This event could give the Medusa’s raft a run for its money.
The Floating Brothel: The Extraordinary True Story of an Eighteenth-Century Ship and its Cargo of Female Convicts by Sian Rees. Poor girls in England, most of who were petty thieves, were given a chance to sail to Botany Bay in Australia to create a new life for themselves and the male population of New South Wales. But the real story happened at the sea on board the ship Lady Julian.
The Last Outlaws: The Lives and Legends of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid by Thom Hatch. Butch: What happened to the old bank? It was beautiful. Guard: People kept robbing it. Butch: Small price to pay for beauty. The book might not be full of memorable dialogues as the movie, but if you want to know more about the legendary outlaws, give this book a chance.
Lost Paradise: From Mutiny on the Bounty to a Modern-Day Legacy of Sexual Mayhem, the Dark Secrets of Pitcairn Island Revealed by Kathy Marks. Mutiny of the Bounty is perhaps the most infamous of mutinies that occurred at sea. Even after the event and hundreds of years later, the descendants of Fletcher Christian and his sailors continue to live a crime-filled life like their forefathers on Pitcairn Island.
The Pirate Hunter: The True Story of Captain Kidd by Richard Zacks. This book will change your perception of Captain Kidd, that’s for sure.
To Hell on a Fast Horse: Billy the Kid, Pat Garrett, and the Epic Chase to Justice in the Old West by Mark Lee Gardner. This non-fiction book concentrates on Sheriff Pat Garrett’s chase in pursuit of the bandit Billy the Kid. If you like reading westerns, this one and The Last Outlaws are not to be missed.
Under the Black Flag: The Romance and the Reality of Life Among the Pirates by David Cordingly. Cordingly takes a look at life among the pirates. Some of your romanticism would be squashed, but there were some good things about being a pirate too. Life among the pirates was neither black nor white; it was beige.
POLITICAL CRIMES
Arms and the Dudes: How Three Stoners from Miami Beach Became the Most Unlikely Gunrunners in History by Guy Lawson. Three kids won a 300 million dollar contract – legitimately – I must add, to supply ammunition to the Afghanistan military. They had no money, but still they almost pulled it off. I don’t know, read this book, and if you’re a US citizen, visit the websites mentioned in the book, see if they are still doing business the same way, and if you want, you can become a supplier to the army too. Don’t forget to send me my cut (the movie War Dogs was trash).
The Brother: The Untold Story of Atomic Spy David Greenglass and How He Sent His Sister, Ethel Rosenberg, to the Electric Chair by Sam Roberts. Even if you’re not a United Statian of American (USians?), chances are you might have read at least something about the execution of the Rosenberg couple as spies. This is probably the best book about the subject.
Curveball: Spies, Lies, and the Man Behind Them: How America Went to War in Iraq by Bob Drogin. How many weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq? If your answer is “what’s that?” then congratulations, you’re not unlike one of your former presidents. Who told the USians that there were WMDs with Saddam? Curveball.
The Confessions of an Economic Hitman by John Perkins. Perkins was an economic hitman, who at the instruction of US intelligence agencies and giant corporations cajoled and blackmailed other country leaders to serve US foreign policy and award lucrative contracts to American businesses (now that job has been transferred to the White House).
A Kim Jong – Il Production: The Extraordinary True Story of a Kidnapped Filmmaker, His Star Actress, and a Young Dictator’s Rise to Power by Paul Fischer. Say you want to make a big movie for your country. But there is no one in your country who can handle such an ambitious project. What do you do? Hire some talent from other country? But you’re Kim Jong – Il. Oh. Then you just kidnap them, and force them to make the glorious movie of yours. Read this book. It’s pretty absurd (the movie they eventually made for Kim was utter shit. The Room would look like Gone with the Wind compared to that abomination).
The Nuclear Jihadist: The True Story of the Man Who Sold the World’s Most Dangerous Secrets… And How We Could Have Stopped Him by Douglas Frantz, Catherine Collins. One day a man Abdul Qadeer Khan caught a plane to Pakistan from Europe. With him he had blueprints of the mechanism that could prepare weapons grade Uranium that he had stolen from the lab he worked at in the last 3 years. He would make the first atomic bomb for Pakistan with that information. Then he sold the tech to stable countries like Iran, North Korea and Libya. How can someone get away with stealing such powerful information? Read this book to find out.
Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program that Brought Nazi Scientists to America by Annie Jacobsen. This is a pretty controversial topic that has only gained wider acknowledgement in recent decades. Read this book to know in detail how bogus the claims of justice being served to the perpetrators of the Holocaust were. Basically, if you were a scientist, you were very likely to be acquitted from any War Crimes allegations.
The Real Odessa: How Peron Brought the Nazi War Criminals to Argentina by Uki Goni. How did most of the Nazis who managed to escape from Germany ended up in South America? Read about the collusion of various entities and institutions that made it possible in this book.
The Spy Who Couldn’t Spell: A Dyslexic Traitor, an Unbreakable Code, and the FBI’s Hunt for America’s Stolen Secrets by Yudhijit Bhattacharjee. This is the true story of a mole in FBI, how he attempted to sell classified information and how FBI tried to track him down.
ROBBERIES, HEISTS.
Ballad of the Whiskey Robber: A True Story of Bank Heists, Ice Hockey, Transylvanian Pelt Smuggling, Moonlighting Detectives, and Broken Hearts by Julian Rubinstein. If there is one thief in this list that I admire, it is without a doubt, Attila Ambrus. Ambrus was known as a gentleman thief, who would ask – no, request - the teller to fill his bag with money. If you read this book, it would be hard for you to dislike Attila even though he was a thief.
Confessions of a Master Jewel Thief by Bill Mason, Lee Gruenfeld. Bill Mason looted many famous personalities in his long career as a jewel thief. In this book he tells how he did it.
The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century by Kirk W. Johnson. Do you know there are people whose hobby is fly tying? The feathery thing that you attach to the hook to catch fish? But these are not your average fly tiers. They use feathers from exotic birds to create different ties whose total cost could run in thousands of dollars. Moreover, many of the most coveted birds are either protected or extinct. So one night a man named Edwin Rist broke into Tring museum and took hundreds of bird skins, some that belonged to Darwin, to fuel his hobby and even getting rich by selling precious feathers to other tiers. Don’t miss this book.
Finders Keepers: The Story of a Man Who Found $1 Million by Mark Bowden. Who hasn’t dreamt of finding a big bag of money? It couldn’t have happened to a more clueless person. Joey Coyle, to be exact.
Flawless: Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History by Scott Andrew Selby. The theft from Antwerp that still raises many questions.
Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde by Jeff Guinn. The truth is not that romantic.
The Great Pearl Heist: London’s Greatest Thief and Scotland Yard’s Hunt for the World’s Most Valuable Necklace by Molly Caldwell Crosby. Pearls, more valuable than the Hope Diamond, are stolen by thieves in Edwardian London.
The Great Train Robbery by Michael Crichton. My favorite Crichton book. Stealing gold from a running train! Watch the movie too that stars the great Sean Connery.
Heist: The Oddball Crew Behind the $17 Million Loomis Fargo Theft by Jeff Diamant. How easy is it to steal 17 million dollars? As far as these thieves were concerned, not much. Getting away with it was another thing altogether. The movie was pretty average, I think.
Into the Blast: The True Story of DB Cooper by Skipp Porteous, Robert Blevins. Is Tommy Wiseau DB Cooper? If only that was true. Read the book but don’t expect any clear-cut answers (I think most people would agree that the clumsy bastard died after he jumped from the plane).
A Pickpocket’s Tale: The Underworld of Nineteenth-Century New York by Timothy J. Gilfoyle. True story of George Appo, a pickpocket living in nineteenth-century New York.
Sex on the Moon: The Amazing Story Behind the Most Audacious Heist in History by Ben Mezrich. A guy steals moon rocks from NASA and then had sex on them with his girlfriend (how the hell is that comfortable?)
The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel. The last hermit was not a hermit in true sense. He didn’t rely on land to feed himself. He stole from the nearby community. Before someone says I have spoiled the book for them, it is revealed in the first chapter that he is a thief.
WHITE COLLAR CRIMES.
Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou. The Steve Jobs impersonator, Elizabeth Holmes, CEO of Theranos, and her old boyfriend, Sunny, are some of the most vile people that I have come across while reading about corporate crime. This is one of the best books that I have read this year.
Den of Thieves by James B. Stewart. This is probably the most famous book written about those Wall Street scoundrels.
Empire of Deception: The Incredible Story of a Master Swindler Who Seduced a City and Captivated the Nation by Dean Jobb. The story of Leo Koretz, who created one of the longest running Ponzi scheme in the 1920s Chicago.
The Informant by Kurt Eichenwald. Mark Whitacre becomes an FBI informant against his own corporation. But as time goes by, the FBI starts to realize that Mark is not as truthful as he seems to be, and he has his own agenda (they made a movie with Matt Damon).
Octopus: Sam Israel, the Secret Market, and Wall Street’s Wildest Con by Guy Lawson. Sam Israel’s hedge fund was making heavy losses. So naturally, he fabricated fake returns to fool the investors. Then he heard about a secret market from where he could convert his millions into billions. That’s how he lost the last 150 million dollars of his invertors’ money.
Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man’s Fight for Justice by Bill Browder. Only thing you are going to learn from this book is don’t do business in Russia.
The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron by Bethany McLean, Peter Elkind. Bethany McLean asked one simple question in her article when everyone else was going gaga over Enron. “What does Enron actually do?” Nobody knew. Even Enron couldn’t give a specific answer. They were not just committing accounting fraud; they were looting ordinary people by creating fake shortage of electricity and driving the prices high. The documentary is worth watching too.
Stung: The Incredible Obsession of Brian Molony by Gary Stephen Ross. The guy Molony debited huge amounts of money from the bank he worked at to feed his gambling addiction. Oh, and he took the money in other people’s name who held huge accounts there. This is one of the best true-crime books that I have ever read.
Three Cups of Deceit: How Greg Mortenson, Humanitarian Hero, Lost His Way by Jon Krakauer. You know the man who builds schools in remote regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan? Great guy, right? Krakauer doesn’t think so. And he’ll tell you why in this short book.
The Wizard of Lies: Bernie Madoff and the Death of Trust by Diana B. Henriques. 65 billion dollars. That’s the amount that Madoff swindled from people through decades of fraud. I think I can buy a small island country with this much money. The idiot is in jail though. I don’t know, maybe after a couple of billion, skip to a country with no extradition treaty and live the rest of your life without the fear of being getting caught? But then, these types of people don’t know when to stop.
OTHER.
American Roulette: How I Turned the Odds Upside Down --- My Wild Twenty-Five-Year Ride Ripping Off World’s Casinos by Richard Marcus. The guy ripped-off casinos all over the world by stealing gaming chips while maintaining an illusion of a highroller to lend his eventual take required legitimacy.
Breaking the Rock: The Great Escape from Alcatraz by Jolene Babyak. Written by the daughter of a guard at Alcatraz, this book tells the story of the infamous escape from the prison island. Don’t forget to watch the classic movie too.
Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six MIT Students Who Took Vegas for Millions by Ben Mezrich. The movie 21 was based on this book. But if you want to know the real story, without the whitewashing, you have no choice but to read this book.
Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy by Kevin Bales. Kevin Bales estimates that there are 27 million people worldwide who live as slaves, right now. And yes, slavery still exists in United States of America in case you were wondering. This is a depressing book.
Fish: A Memoir of a Boy in a Man’s Prison by T. J. Parsell. Rape in prison is absolutely overlooked almost everywhere. Read this book if you can endure reading about helplessness page after page.
Hotel K: The Shocking Inside Story of Bali’s Most Notorious Jail by Kathryn Bonella. Prison systems in developing world differ from the developed one in one regard that the guards and officials there are more corrupt and hence are likely to look the other way when something bad is going down amongst the inmates. Kerobokan Jail in Bali is one of the worst among those.
The Hot House: Life Inside Leavenworth Prison by Pete Earley. The author interviewed inmates from Leavenworth Prison for two years. The book is the result of that labor.
The Laundrymen: Inside the World’s Third Largest Business by Jeffrey Robinson. I have a perfect idea to launder money. Laser Tag! Robinson looks at the third largest business in the world. The book was published a while ago, but still hasn’t lost most of its relevancy.
Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer. Jon releases the Krakauer on one of the most relevant subjects of today. Rapes in colleges. These institutes would do anything to sweep things under the rug to maintain the illusion of clean image in the public eye.
Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing by Ted Conover. The author worked as a prison guard for a year at one of the most notorious prisons of the United States. This book is about his experience.
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