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The Ultimate Book of Impostors

The Ultimate Book of Impostors tells the stories of more than a hundred of the boldest and most brazen impostors of the past 500 years. Their stories range from the curious lives of small-time criminals to royal pretenders, notorious murderers and some distinctly peculiar fantasists.

You’ll find out who the exotic dancer Mata Hari and the mysterious Cazique of Poyais really were and why they hid behind false identities.

You’ll meet some of the most bizarre, sinister and fascinating people who ever lived… with someone else’s identity.

They tried to steal fortunes and kingdoms. They impersonated pilots, doctors, native Americans and movie directors. One sold the Eiffel Tower, twice, and another held an airliner for ransom!

Fingerprinting, photo-ID, iris scanning and DNA profiling have made it more difficult to use a false identity today, but digital media have given birth to a whole new generation of cyber-impostors.


"Children’s book author and illustrator Graham (Ripley’s Mighty Machines; Fighting Crime) writes stories of impostors from the past 500 years—not your typical swindlers but rather those who assumed a false identity for the purpose of fraud. The author provides a summary of each character, indicating how the individual was able to pull off the deception before being exposed. Readers will recognize some of the famous deceivers, such as “Anastasia”; Ferdinand Waldo Demara, who masqueraded as many different people; and Frank Abagnale, now an FBI consultant. They’ll also learn about lesser-known tricksters, including women who posed as men until their gender was revealed after death, the captain from Köpenick, and the Caucasian American who posed as Chinese magician “Chung Ling Soo.” There are interesting tidbits throughout in gray shaded boxes that some might find distracting. Graham states that the impostors featured here are failures because we know about them. How many others are out there right now of whom we are unaware? VERDICT True crime buffs will enjoy this well-written book and will find it almost impossible to put down once they start. This work should be in every public library’s true crime section; highly recommended."

Library Journal

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