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Art of Darkness: Ingenious Performances by Undercover Operators, Con Men, and Others
     

Art of Darkness: Ingenious Performances by Undercover Operators, Con Men, and Others

5.0 1
by Sara K. Schneider
 

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Just like Scheherazade, undercover agents talk to save their lives.
If they put in a poor performance, they don't see the curtain rise again.
ART OF DARKNESS pries open the virtuoso identity techniques practiced by undercover operatives, fugitives, disguise artists, pranksters, con artists, and federally protected witnesses.

It draws on original

Overview

Just like Scheherazade, undercover agents talk to save their lives.
If they put in a poor performance, they don't see the curtain rise again.
ART OF DARKNESS pries open the virtuoso identity techniques practiced by undercover operatives, fugitives, disguise artists, pranksters, con artists, and federally protected witnesses.

It draws on original interviews with undercover operators in order to show how identity artists on both sides of the law obtain fake ID, develop a disguise, build a cover story, maintain believability in street performances, and deal with threats to their identities-all without formal acting training.

ART OF DARKNESS inhabits the grey areas of morality as it exposes identity roleplays at the borders of lawfulness. In it you'll find stories of:
law-enforcement workers who adopt the techniques of criminals in order to catch them but somehow get caught up in their own trick identities; self-defined artists whose work also has a criminal dimension; criminal informants who masterfully play sides and roles against each other; and hoaxsters and impersonators who may perform trick identities primarily for gain but do so with tremendous inventiveness and a directorial consciousness.

This book may explode any remaining notion you harbor that you are not at some level a member of the intelligence community, discerning who is "for real" and who is presenting a self for personal gain.

Editorial Reviews

Mensa Bulletin
Ever want to disappear? If so, here's a guidebook for doing so. Through personal interviews, Sara has managed to unveil the virtuoso identity techniques employed by undercover operatives, fugitives, pranksters, forgers, con artists and federally protected witnesses. Here are the secrets of obtaining fake IDs, building a cover story, maintaining believability, and dealing with threats to their identities, all without formal theatrical training. Here are case histories of individuals who may be criminals, law enforcement officers who adopt criminal techniques, criminal informants and hoaxers and impersonators who do it for the challenge as well as for the gain. As Sara points out, Allen Funt's Candid Camera series on television employed many of the con techniques she discusses here. But perhaps most of us are actors of sorts-after all, Shakespeare did say that all the world's a stage and we are merely players.
—Tom Elliott
Midwest Book Review
Deception is not strictly the avenue of the criminal. Art of Darkness: Ingenious Performances by Undercover Operators, Con Men, and Others is a look at the many uses of deception and how it has been applied on any and all sides of the law. Gathering complex tales of how these disguises have been used to track down con men and how con men have swindled thousands of dollars and made their form of crime something to be viewed as an art form, Art of Darkness is an intriguing piece of nonfiction all the way through. Art of Darkness: Ingenious Performances by Undercover Operators, Con Men, and Others is highly recommended for community library true crime collections.
Teaching Sociology
The level of discourse is similar to pieces in the New York Times magazine. The book would certainly be suitable for anyone aspiring to a career in law enforcement in general and as an undercover operative in particular. Thus professors teaching courses in criminal justice would want to consider adopting this book. In addition, since the book is so rich in dimensions of undercover work that are exemplars of behavioral science concepts and topics, adventurous professors could have their students taking micro theory or social psychology courses identify and discuss them. It would be a great exercise and result in deeper processing of the material. It would also show the relevance of the sociological concepts. Since being an undercover agent is a kind of extreme form of covert participant observation, the book would be useful for graduate courses in methodology that emphasize participant observation. The problems, dilemmas and strains inherent in this form of research are illustrated and discussed. . . .

The book has endnotes and a quite extensive bibliography for readers who would like to do further research about the topic.
—Michael Klausner

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780979309304
Publisher:
Cuneiform Books
Publication date:
05/10/2008
Pages:
284
Product dimensions:
0.64(w) x 6.00(h) x 9.00(d)

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Art of Darkness: Ingenious Performances by Undercover Operators, Con Men, and Others 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Sara K Schneider has produced a fascinating, keenly intelligent, and thoroughly engaging book about 'street acting by undercover operators, con men and others'. Aptly titled ART OF DARKNESS, Schneider's book explores the gamut of identity alteration, whether that alteration is for the support of the law by undercover investigators or by con artists, and in doing so she encourages the reader to become aware of identity theft and crime recognition as well as writing what must be the best documented resource for actors, for students of character behavior, for those who are seeking the secrets of the con games, and for law enforcement officers on the shelves today. 'The real identity game is neither about the individual body nor the solo self. Rather, it is socially constructed, embedded in the interplay between my perceptions and yours of what I 'might' be, between the shape of the nest you make for my identity project and the one I make for yours. Identity play, this book argues, takes place not in the 'self', but in the 'scene.' And with this introductory statement, Schneider takes us through countless interviews and quotations by those in the game of cover. She explores the techniques required to become an undercover person - how to talk the talk, and respond to the intricacies of the milieu into which the undercover person wishes to 'disappear', intricacies that of course include dress, stance, manner of walking and movement, etc that match the new environment the undercover person seeks to absorb. She then moves us into the realm of undercover work within the law enforcement arena, explaining how the possibility of a good cop becoming a bad cop is a natural risk. The other aspects of ART OF DARKNESS that will apply to all readers include the fake IDs and forged birth certificates, only two examples of how our identities can be stolen or new identities can be manufactured with relative ease. She spends pages explaining both the simple fast con games that clutter the streets and the more subtle con games to which we all may fall victim. And as a summing up of this book she becomes more philosophical about the entire process of identity alteration and the terminal side effects it can produce. Dr. Schneider writes and teaches about body-based learning and bodily expressions of culture and directs the Center for Body Lore and Learning in Chicago, Illinois. She is a very bright woman who obviously understands human behavior as well as anyone. If there is a flaw with this book it is the placement of the writing on the pages: too much eye space is taken with indented and extended quotations that disrupt the reader's focus on the flow of the narrative. Granted, this makes for a superb textbook resource book style, but ART OF DARKNESS is so much more than that. This is a book the average reader will find intoxicating in its information and in the succinct manner in which Sara K. Schneider writes. Grady Harp