Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The impossibly True Story of Tricky Vic: The man who sold the Eiffel Tower

The impossibly True Story of Tricky Vic: The man who sold the Eiffel Tower

Greg Pizzoli
For ages 6 to 8
Penguin, 2015   ISBN: 978-0670016525

Robert Miller was born in what is now the Czech Republic in 1890. He was a smart boy who grew up to be a very intelligent young man who could speak several languages. Robert’s parents wanted him to go to university, but Robert had other plans. He left home, learned how to play poker and billiards and became a professional gambler.

   After getting into a little trouble during a poker game, Robert decided to become a gambler on the passenger ships that crossed the Atlantic. He created an alias, Count Victor Lustig, and conned wealthy people out of their valuables.

   Victor, which is the name every knew him by, then went on to work his small cons in America, but there came a time when he was tired of having to come up with new ways to get the money he needed to maintain his preferred lifestyle. Victor wanted to do something big, something that would “pull in a lot of money at once,” so he decided to try the Romanian Money Box scam and it worked beautifully. He convinced a rich person that he had a box that could print money; the person bought it only to discover, too late, that he had been tricked into buying - at great cost - something that was worthless.

   When Victor, or “Tricky Vic” wore out his welcome in the United States, he moved to Paris in France, where he came up with another big con. He would sell the Eiffel Tower for scrap metal! Only of course, the Eiffel tower was not his to sell.

   In this fascinating book the author tells the true story of a con man who pulled an incredible con not once but twice. Readers will find it hard to believe that Robert Miller got away with his cons, but there are always gullible people around who believe what they are told, and who are taken advantage of by people like Miller.

   Throughout the book readers will find side bars full of interesting background information, and at the back of the book there is an author’s note in which the author talks about his writing journey.