Join us virtually at 7:00PM CDT on June 2, 2021 for a special Wednesday evening with author and former New York Times senior writer Margalit Fox featuring her new book, THE CONFIDENCE MEN: How Two Prisoners of War Engineered The Most Remarkable Escape in History. She will present an illustrated lecture and will be "in conversation" with New Orleans journalist John Pope.
To participate in the Zoom event, register now.
“A wonder, a marvel, a feat of invention and dogged persistence, and most of all, a testament to the power of the human capacity to believe.”—Liza Mundy, author of Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II
The astonishing true story of two World War I prisoners who pulled off the most ingenious escape in history.
Imprisoned in a remote Turkish POW camp, two British officers, Harry Jones and Cedric Hill, join forces to bamboozle their iron-fisted captors. To stave off boredom, Jones takes a handmade Ouija board and fakes elaborate séances for his fellow prisoners. Word gets around, and one day an Ottoman official approaches him with a query: Could Jones contact the spirit world to find a vast treasure rumored to be buried nearby? Jones, a trained lawyer, and Hill, a brilliant magician, use the Ouija board—and their keen understanding of the psychology of deception—to build a trap for their captors that will ultimately lead them to freedom.
A gripping nonfiction thriller, The Confidence Men is the story of one of the only known con games played for a good cause—and of a profound but unlikely friendship. Had it not been for the “Great War,” Jones, the Oxford-educated son of a British lord, and Hill, a mechanic on an Australian sheep ranch, would never have met. But in pain, loneliness, hunger, and isolation, they formed a powerful emotional and intellectual alliance that saved both of their lives.
Margalit Fox brings her “nose for interesting facts, the ability to construct a taut narrative arc, and a Dickens-level gift for concisely conveying personality” (Kathryn Schulz, New York) to this tale of psychological strategy that is rife with cunning, danger, and moments of high farce that rival anything in Catch-22.
Margalit Fox trained as a linguist and was a senior writer at The New York Times. As a former member of the newspaper’s celebrated Obituary News Department, she wrote the front-page public sendoffs of some of the leading cultural figures of our age. Winner of the William Saroyan Prize for Literature and author of three previous books, Conan Doyle for the Defense, The Riddle of the Labyrinth, and Talking Hands, Fox lives in Manhattan with her husband, the writer and critic George Robinson.
“The Confidence Men couldn’t have come along at a better time. This story of two unlikely con artists—young British officers who use a Ouija board to escape from a Turkish prisoner-of-war camp—is a true delight, guaranteed to lift the spirits of anyone eager to forget today’s realities and lose oneself in a beautifully written tale of an exciting and deeply moving real-life caper.”—Lynne Olson, author of Madame Fourcade’s Secret War
No city in America knows how to mark death with more funerary panache than New Orleans. The pageants commemorating departed citizens are often in themselves works of performance art. A grand obituary remains key to this Stygian passage. And no one writes them like New Orleanian John Pope.