A funny, raw account of being at the receiving end. It’s an enjoyable romp with real hurt at its core, page-turning, gassy and sometimes impenetrably American ... But Ellin’s achievement is to lay bare the abuse of the duper, the 'mindf***' . How does anyone recover from that scale of emotional betrayal?
I never read books like Duped: Double Lives, False Identities, and the Con Man I Almost Married: high-concept books with one-word titles, subtitles that tell you everything you need to know about them and a single, Gladwellian image on the cover. (Here, it’s a suitor’s hand extending a rose.) Books written in magazine prose — conversational, breezy, without a distractingly idiosyncratic line, paragraphs chopped up short for easy digestion, the references current and pop-cultural. They’re books you read, if you read them, for content, not artistry. Nevertheless, I have recommended this one to friends who’ve loved someone they turned out not to know ... I admire Ellin’s fortitude in telling a story that risks making her look like a fool ... threatens to diffuse the book’s focus to the point of becoming an Encyclopedia of Lies ... The Commander’s lies, described flatly, sound like stories an 11-year-old would make up...So how did an intelligent person trained as a journalist, a self-described congenital skeptic, fall for them? ... Reading Duped gave me occasion to second-guess even gentler deceptions; it may actually have made me a (slightly) better person. Which is more than I can say for many a better book.
The author’s hybrid of memoir and journalism works well for general readers, keeping things engaging and witty even as she misses the mark with some of her humor. A timely book for folks who wonder how we ended up in this post-truth world as well as readers of books like A Beautiful, Terrible Thing (2017) by Jen Waite.