Thoughts on: The Man in the Rockefeller Suit by Mark Seal

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Arti­cle first pub­lished as Book Review: The Man in the Rock­e­feller Suit: The Aston­ish­ing Rise and Spec­tac­u­lar Fall of a Ser­ial Imposter by Mark Seal on Blogcritics.

The Man in the Rock­e­feller Suit: The Aston­ish­ing Rise and Spec­tac­u­lar Fall of a Ser­ial Impos­tor by Mark Seal is a non-fiction book track­ing one of the biggest con artists of our time (that has been caught). Assum­ing a series of names, one man fooled suc­cess­ful busi­ness peo­ple and high soci­ety for decades spread­ing huge lies, so pre­pos­ter­ous they were believed.

  • 336 pages
  • Pub­lisher: Viking Adult
  • Lan­guage: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670022748

Book Review: The Man in the Rockefeller Suit The Astonishing Rise and Spectacular Fall of a Serial Impostor by Mark Seal

My rat­ing for The Man in the Rock­e­feller Suit - 5
Buy this book in paper or in elec­tronic for­mat
through the Man of la Book Affil­i­ate Account

The Man in the Rock­e­feller Suit: The Aston­ish­ing Rise and Spec­tac­u­lar Fall of a Ser­ial Impos­tor by Mark Seal is one weird, infu­ri­at­ing book, yet fas­ci­nat­ing and dif­fi­cult to put down. Track­ing the jour­ney of Ger­man immi­grant Chris­t­ian Karl Ger­hart­sre­iter who arrives in the United States at age 17 the book is filed with the kind of sto­ries that no-one would have believed.
Unless they were true.

Weird because the book is by nature incom­plete (Ger­hart­sre­iter is still in jail). Ger­hart­sre­iter passes him­self off as an heir to Amer­i­can aris­toc­racy, part of the suc­cess­ful Rock­e­feller line who calls him­self Clark Rock­ef­feler and man­ages to con­vince some of the smartest peo­ple in the world of his fake iden­ti­ties (he had sev­eral) with­out any real achieve­ments. If any­one would have both­ered to fact check just a few of his out­ra­geous claims many heartaches could have been averted.

It is also infu­ri­at­ing for much of the same rea­sons. Amer­i­cans are known for our work ethic (it’s true), and here is some guy, fak­ing an accent, wear­ing preppy clothes tak­ing credit for stuff he hasn’t done enjoy­ing the fruit of suc­cess from trees he never planted, watered or got his hand dirty spread­ing manure. Gen­er­a­tions of Amer­i­cans becom­ing finan­cial slaves, buy­ing degrees, learn­ing and killing them­selves just to get a step ahead in life, while Mr. Ger­hart­sre­iter / British Royal Christo­pher Chich­ester XIII,/ movie pro­ducer Crowe / Rock­e­feller / Cap­tain Chip Smith strolls right in, snags jobs with Wall Street firms, mar­ries a smart, beau­ti­ful and suc­cess­ful woman sim­ply spread­ing lies.

Mr. Seal keeps quot­ing Hitler’s min­is­ter of pro­pa­ganda Joseph Goebbels: "The big­ger the lie, the more it will be believed”. Ger­hart­sre­iter is liv­ing proof of that saying.

The author does a fan­tas­tic job in his research, I lost track of how many peo­ple he inter­viewed, yet the pace is brisk and the nar­ra­tive reminded me more of a novel of sus­pense than a recount­ing of recent his­tory. Weav­ing two sto­ry­lines together, one of the con man pre-Rockefeller era who is linked to dis­ap­pear­ance and mur­der of a mar­ried cou­ple; the other, the more famous one, of the kid­nap­ping of his own daugh­ter Reigh.

After read­ing this book, Ger­hart­sre­iter is as big a mys­tery as ever. We still have no idea why and how he man­aged to fool so many smart peo­ple (nei­ther does the police). We are con­stantly told of his swag­ger, charm and attrac­tive­ness yet none of the pic­tures included force those claims (to his credit, Mr. Seal does attest that the sub­ject didn’t like his pic­ture taken and when it was, he made sure to make a face or hide).
Myself and the rest of my fel­low ugly guys in the world still have a chance.
Hooray… I guess?

Clark Rock­e­feller has never existed, yet he was the pin­ni­cle of suc­cess of a con man. Born in a small vil­lage in Ger­many, Chris­t­ian Karl Ger­hart­sre­iter came to the United States on a stu­dent visa and begen his voy­age of trickery.

For 30 years, the man assumed a series of iden­ti­ties, mov­ing up the social lad­der and be in a 12 year mar­riage to a suc­cess­ful busi­ness­woman, a Har­vard MBA who believed his lies. How­ever, the one per­son he couldn’t con, his pre­cious daugh­ter, was his biggest down­fall and where the house of cards he so care­fully built started to crumble.

Buy this book in paper or FREE in elec­tronic for­mat
through the Man of la Book Affil­i­ate Account
Zohar — Man of la Book
Dis­claimer: I got this book for free.
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