Read The First Detective: The Life and Revolutionary Times of Eugene Vidocq, Criminal, Spy and Private Eye by James Morton Online

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Eugene Vidocq was born in France in 1775 and his life spanned the French Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars and the 1848 revolutions. When Vidocq himself published his memoirs they were an overnight bestseller — a European publishing sensation. He was the Morse, the Guv'nor, the James Bond of his day.A notorious criminal and prison escaper, he turned police officer and employEugene Vidocq was born in France in 1775 and his life spanned the French Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars and the 1848 revolutions. When Vidocq himself published his memoirs they were an overnight bestseller — a European publishing sensation. He was the Morse, the Guv'nor, the James Bond of his day.A notorious criminal and prison escaper, he turned police officer and employed a gang of ex-convicts as his detectives. His triumphs were many and he was the darling of the Parisian press — actresses, politicians and thieves hung on his every word. He invented innovative criminal indexing techniques and experimented with fingerprinting. He passed in disguise through the highest and lowest of European society, until his cavalier attitude towards the thin blue line meant he was forced out of the police. So he began the world's very first private detective agency. The cases he solved were high profile, from forgery in Pimlico to stolen jewels in the South of France, and he himself grew in notoriety. However, his infamy didn't prevent him from becoming a spy and moving secretly across the dangerous borders of Europe.The novelists Balzac, Hugo and Dickens all created characters based on Vidocq and his life reads like a cross between a Wilbur Smith novel, Casanova's memoirs and the Scarlet Pimpernel. This is gloriously enjoyable historical romp through the eighteenth century — in the company of a man who was many things to many men — a jewel thief, a spy, a policeman and a private eye. A man whose influence still holds to this day....

Title : The First Detective: The Life and Revolutionary Times of Eugene Vidocq, Criminal, Spy and Private Eye
Author :
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ISBN : 9780091887964
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 340 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The First Detective: The Life and Revolutionary Times of Eugene Vidocq, Criminal, Spy and Private Eye Reviews

  • Jessi
    2019-02-01 14:56

    Well. This book took me nearly seven months to read. I heard about it on the "Classic Mysteries" podcast and the guy described Vidocq as the prototype for Sherlock Holmes as well as characters from Poe and Dumas. If I hadn't lent the book to my father and then taken two months to get it back, and then not picked it up for another two months, I probably would have read the first fifty pages and called it good. Vidocq is an interesting character who goes from criminal, to policeman, to the man who opened what could be called the first private detective agency. Of course, most of this information comes from autobiographies and his memories, but his more public works (as head of the Surete) are part of public record.James Morton is an okay writer but someone did not do a good job of editing this book. I found several grammar and spelling errors (there are one or two in every book, but this was excessive) and the story jumped around so much that I could barely follow what was going on. We not only jumped around Vidocq's timeline, but around with other characters as well. Yes, other authors do this, but not quite this much and with much better aplomb. I found myself skimming the last hundred pages just to get it done.

  • L Greyfort
    2019-01-28 13:46

    Um, no.....No, no.....no.....NO.This is NOT the first Sherlock Holmes detective. This is the first slimy-guy-you-hire-to-take-pictures-of-your-cheating-husband detective.Therefore, pretty boring and monotonous.

  • Paul Agapow
    2019-02-08 08:58

    A entertaining slice of history. The construction of the book is awkward in some ways (a slight assumption you already know who Vidocq is, a fascination with minor details like exact dates and amounts, the occasional unintelligible sentence due to multiple qualifiers: e.g. "It is not impossible to deny that this did not happen ...") but the story of Vidocq is largely an excuse for the author to tell scores of colorful stories and details, some of which are admittedly only tenuously linked to the eponymous detective. But they are interesting stories, and it's obvious a formidable amount of research has gone into the book.

  • Dan
    2019-01-19 07:34

    This is an interesting tale of Eugene-Francois Vidoq, the petty thief who became head of the Paris police in the early 19th century. It is almost too complete and I got bogged down at times trying to keep the various criminals straight before they became police informers or lost their heads. The literary connections are quite interesting. Later in his life he became friends with Balzac, de Maupassant, and Victor Hugo and some of his cases and anecdotes were worked into several of their novels and short stories.

  • Claire
    2019-01-16 11:32

    Wonderful. Intelligent, witty and very entertaining, this is the kind of historical writing that really brings the people, places and events of the past alive. Morton writes with great zest about the life of Vidocq, a man who crossed the boundaries between criminal and law enforcement officer with consumate ease, managing to make this egotistical and priapic character seem almost likeable and noting his subject's faults and foibles with a wry amusement. This is a beautifully written, beautifully researched and erudite piece of writing which is a great pleasure to read.

  • Chris Miller
    2019-02-04 10:36

    My hundred page minimum was sorely tested. Meh!

  • Margaret Sankey
    2019-02-02 08:55

    Vidocq has one of those lives too bizarre for fiction--a childhood of rebellion and petty crime (and literally running off with the circus), soldiering for the French Revolution, hiding out with gypsies, then the climb from police informant to police detective (use a thief to catch a thief...), implementing all kinds of cutting-edge techniques, like disguises, casting shoe prints and inventing unalterable bond paper, before being too tempted to misbehave to remain part of the Sûreté. His later years fluctuated--part time private detective with hired goons, called back to the Sûreté to deal with 1832 riots, back to jail for fraud, padding memoirs with a ghost writer and eventually dying in 1857 as a celebrity. Unfortunately, this is an average popular history book, just recounting things from the autobiography, with little analysis and confusing "this happened and then this happened and then three years earlier, this had happened" narrative that I don't like.

  • Dexter
    2019-01-30 10:57

    FINALLY finished this book. I have literally been reading this for over a month. For me, that is a LONG time.Vidocq is certainly an interesting man (which is why I read a book about him), and James Morton does cover all the details. However, he kind of gives too much backstory about every other person ever to encounter Vidocq. You have to be extremely in the know about French history to follow all of the backstories and histories and rumors and drama that goes on throughout Vidocq's long life. Not only was I not super interested in half of those people, I also just couldn't keep track of them and would rather have found out more about VIDOCQ. I feel like I just got a long summary of all the stuff that happened in France during Vidocq's lifetime, with snippets of what he was up to here and there.Still a Vidocq fan, but not a super fan of this book. It's probably better suited to indepth French scholars.

  • Christopher Fuchs
    2019-01-20 07:52

    Fascinating nonfiction that is like a blend of "The Count of Monte Cristo" and "Sherlock Holmes".

  • Xarah
    2019-02-04 15:00

    Vidocq's history and his rise was quite interesting; however, I found the writing style not very approachable. Morton added too much information that seemed to detract from the story.

  • Robert Mcfarland
    2019-01-17 09:54

    Did not like it ... the storyline was awful and it never catch me to enjoy it... didnt finish it...

  • Stan
    2019-01-30 08:59

    Note: The version of the dust jacket of my copy is the same as the original 2004 Ebury Press edition, but it has this ISBN13.