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Summary

In Duped, New York Times journalist Abby Ellin explores the secret lives of compulsive liars, and the tragedy of those who trust them. Perfect for anybody who enjoyed Bad Blood and Dirty John.

While leading a double life sounds like the stomping ground of psychopaths, moles, and covert agents with indeterminate dialects, plenty of people who appear 'normal' keep canyon-sized secrets from those in their immediate orbits. These untold stories lead to enormous surprises, often unpleasant ones. Duped is an investigation of compulsive liars - and how they fool their loved ones - drawing on Abby Ellin's personal experience.

From the day Abby went on her first date with The Commander, she was caught up in a whirlwind. Within five months he'd proposed, and they'd moved in together. But there were red flags: strange stories of international espionage, involving Osama bin Laden and the Pentagon. Soon his stories began to unravel until she discovered, far later than she'd have liked, that he was a complete and utter fraud.

When Ellin wrote about her experience in Psychology Today, the responses were unlike anything she'd experienced as a journalist. Legions of people wrote in with similar stories, of otherwise sharp-witted and self-aware people being taken in by ludicrous scams. Why was it so hard to spot these outlandish stories? Why were so many of the perpetrators male, and so many of the victims female? Was there something universal at play here?

In Duped, New York Times journalist Abby Ellin explores the secret lives of compulsive liars, and the tragedy of those who trust them - who have experienced severe, prolonged betrayal - and the terrible impact on their sense of reality and their ability to trust ever again. Studying the art and science of lying, talking to victims who've had their worlds turned upside down, and writing with great openness about her own mistakes, she lays the phenomenon bare. Ellin offers us a shocking and intimate look not only at the damage that the duplicitous cause, but the painful reaction of a society that is all too quick to blame the believer.

©2019 Abby Ellin (P)2019 Hachette Audio UK

Critic reviews

"Abby Ellin's writing is everything her fiancé pretended to be: witty, vulnerable, brave, smart, and honest." (Michael Finkel, author of The Stranger in the Woods)

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great book

so we all think we are smart and will not get duped them it happens. this was a great book well delivered. A really good insight to how/why people lie and how we fool for it

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rings true!

loved this book and the narrator. It rings so true to being duped by a former housemate of mine who kept needing constant money. The narrator's voice really kept it interesting and it's a great set of stories

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some interesting stories, irritating narration

I didn't appreciate the "sassy newscaster" style of reading, it was really distracting and made every single sentence sound dumber/cheaper than it would be on the page.
Some interesting anecdotes and facts, but I was a little underwhelmed by the story overall. The attempts at humour... oh dear. Not good.
After a recommendation from Dolly Alderton, I expected something unputdownable, but it was just okay.

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  • EK
  • 14-02-19

Worth reading

He lied to you....time to move on. Aside from that, it’s a decent compilation of stories. There are a few fantastic ones inside and a few insights to go with. I didn’t a lot of new information but I was entertained.

Give it a go if you are interested in the darker corners of humanity but aren’t looking for the science behind it.