Mark Seal's absorbing biography about German con man Christian Karl Gerhartstreiter (aka Clark Rockefeller), The Man in the Rockefeller Suit, invites the reader to contemplate the power of a big lie, the fluidity of identity, and the limits of credulity. Seal succeeds in fleshing out a personality so unfixed that, at times, the man at the center of his narrative seems completely empty on the inside - save for a relentless drive toward personal wealth and social advancement.
Gerhartstreiter's remarkable ability to invent new personalities and to transform himself is fascinating, as is his absolute belief in each transformation. This commitment to each role may explain why, even after he's been outed by police as a fraud, his final and most impudent alias, Clark Rockefeller, seems to stick. He never drops the patrician accent or mannerisms, and, despite the prison clothes, he still ...
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