When its numbering machinery broke down and couldn't be repaired and the Bank of Portugal had to hire an alien company to print its country's banknotes, the scene was set for a unique real-life crime drama, a ""once-in-a-civilization"" counterfeiting caper. In 1924, an amateur con man from an undistinguished middle-class Lisbon family conceived and set in motion a conspiracy which was to make him -- briefly -- very rich. In little more than a year, however, his funny-money scheme had ruined a venerable printing house, rocked the Portuguese colonial and diplomatic boats, pilloried the Lord Mayor of London, upset the life of a noted Dutch actress, provoked great perplexity in the courts of Britain and Portugal, and led to the Salazar dictatorship which yet endures. The corruption and decadence in the bureaucracy of Portugal was quite unmatched in its own time. The coincidences, fortuitous mishaps, and blind beginner luck of the entire affair were against all the Laws of Games. The Man Who Stole Portugal is a bouyant account of how it all happened, once upon a time.