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

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

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 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780979309304
Publisher: Cuneiform Books
Publication date: 05/10/2008
Pages: 284
Sales rank: 910,174
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 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
bostonian71 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A little scholarly for my tastes ... I knew it wouldn't be like "Catch Me if You Can", but I guess I'd prefer more anecdotes from actual operators and less analysis.
melannen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This author's previous books were intended for an audience of academia, and I could see her trying valiantly to write in a more popular style. On the other hand, she largely succeeds at making it both accessible and absorbing.The book is essentially a walk-through of the process of setting up, establishing, performing, and then ending an undercover role, supported by research and interviews. It focuses mostly on the most common kind of undercover work in American law enforcement - drugs - but occasionally pulls in con artistry and some of the more famous undercover cops of the past. (What it barely touches on - which I expected more of - was actual spies.) And by constantly talking about the relationships between actual undercover work, undercover work as portrayed in the media (mostly "Miami Vice"; I was hoping for "dueSouth"...), and the ways undercover strategies are used by everyone in daily life, she keeps even the more abstruse parts of the work relevant to the reader.This book kept me interested, and will keep me thinking in new ways for a long time about identity and deception in both my life and my art.(One note on the edition - I was less than fond of the font used, which was excessively spindly to the point where, on some of the facing pages, some of the letter strokes simply disappeared.)
GoodGeniusLibrary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Art of Darkness is an outstanding book on the subject of assuming a fake identity whether it is for good (under cover agents) or evil (criminals). Sara Schneider has thoroughly researched this subject as is evident from the Chapter Notes and the Bibliography, but most evident in the text itself. Schneider truly demonstrates what she calls the virtuosic performance of those assuming a fake identity: blending truth with fiction artfully, submersing into and emerging from two different worlds physically, culturally, emotionally. I walked away from this book wondering if the price was too high to pay for a law enforcement individual to go undercover for any length of time. I was also left wondering if I could ever tell if someone was faking an identity after Schneider so carefully demonstrates this absolute virtuosic performance.The only thing lacking in this book was a case study of some of the most famous identities Schneider refers to throughout the book. In the appendix she does give an example using the prangsters of a tv show, but I would have rather had the case story of one of the famous criminal con artists or famous undercover agents.This would be a fascinating read to any one interested in law enforcement and could definetly supplement a college course on the subject. Even if you are not in law enforcement, this book is a fascinating read; I had trouble putting the book down as I was mezmerized by the intricacies one must perform to carry out a fake identity.
KhrystiBooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was lucky enough to receive this book as an early reviewer, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is dramatically entertaining, but also raises questions about the nature of identity-can it really be separate from what we say and do? It also has whetted my appetite for biography, particularly of the master con artists and undercover workers Schneider quotes throughout the book.
sedelia on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Surprisingly, I enjoyed this book. I¿m not a fan of non-fiction¿actually, I kind of avoid it at all costs, unless it¿s a book about writing¿but I liked this book. Schneider gives a detailed portrayal about what life is like in the world of undercover cops and con men. Granted, this isn¿t a book you can just sit down and read. There¿s a lot of information, and I found myself having to take breaks in order to process what I read.Going back to my earlier comment about liking books about writing, I think that¿s part of the reason I liked this book so much. I could see how useful this information would be if I were to write a crime/detective/mystery novel. And, with the amount of Jason Bourne-like stories being published, the information presented would help give my writing a unique twist and authenticity. Also, there¿s a great chapter (3) that is simply useful in characterization techniques.I was a little disappointed, because in the beginning Schneider made it seem as if she would go through each chapter and show how undercover work and conning relates to what we do in everyday life. She does touch on it, but the connection isn¿t made as much as I would have liked it to be. Regardless, I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to those interested in real-life undercover stories, as well as writers interested in the crime/detective/mystery genre.
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