Two British soldiers are held in a remote Turkish prisoner of war camp during World War I. One day, they hatch a remarkable escape plan. First, they convince their captors that a Ouija board works to reach the spirit world. Then, the “spirits” tell the guards to take the prisoners on trips outside the prison to look for buried treasure. Finally, oops, you will have to read the book to find out what happens.
I was expecting a rousing story of daring con men. While I got that, eventually, I also received a well-researched history of how the two men were captured, the state of Turkish prison camps for officers, and even spiritualism at the time. The descriptions were incredibly detailed, which slowed the plot considerably. The book’s pacing feels more like a historical biography than a con game thriller. Depending on what you are looking for in a book, this may be fine for you.
There is also an attempt to discover why such an outlandish plan worked so effectively. The investigations into why the captors were taken in by the scheme is an intriguing look into how con men everywhere work. While a recent former President is left unnamed, all but his most virulent supporters will clearly see his shadow throughout this section. QAnon is also unmentioned in the text. However, the explanation does link a hundred-year-old story to the present.
Overall, if you like history, especially the history of POWs, you will enjoy The Confidence Men. 4 stars, and I’m sure it will make a great movie or Netflix limited series.
Thanks to Random House and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.