A weird apprenticeship supposedly qualified R.B. Sparkman to write this book: he lived with and studied the ways of five con artists during Houston's energy boom in the early 1970s, was personally duped out of $800 by one of them and $200 by another, and gleaned such pearls of wisdom as ""manipulate a friend--a person who likes and respects you. . . ."" For those who care, his techniques are based largely on psychological truisms like intermittent reinforcement, persistence, equating money with power, and applied friendship. Sparkman doesn't worry about such extraneous details as morality; he does, however, observe that his five mentors had no real friends, so on the whole manipulation is more profitable when it's ""unselfish"": "". . . you'll serve your own self-interest by applying the golden rule as you manipulate people."" Sydney Schweitzer's Winning with Deception and Bluff (p. 316) may have been no loftier, but at least it refrained from such absurd pretensions.