THE GREAT IMPOSTOR by Robert Crichton


Email this review


We impostors ... are unaccountable people""- and this fantastic story of one of them is no easier to explain, for Fred W. Demara, under his given name, was always a bum- but in the many professions he assumed, as a soldier, a sailor, a teacher (in three colleges), a warden in a southern prison, he not only acquitted himself fairly well but also found a certain gratification he was never to know in being himself. After a New England childhood of mixed circumstances, Demara tried to join the Trappists, then the Army from which he deserted, after stealing the papers of a friend. A second set of credentials- as Dr. French, doctor of psychology, landed him in several teaching posts before he was picked up for desertion. On his release, as a Dr. Cyr, a Commissioned Officer in the Royal Canadian Navy, aboard a ship, penicillin took care of most of his problems but he was called on to do major surgery and managed to remove a bullet wound from a chest and collapse a lung. Exposed again, he idled for eight years, then under the credentials of B. W. Jones became a maximum security warden in a Texas state prison where he applied modern methods to hopeless criminals with some success until a Life article revealed his identity. Back to teaching, in Maine, he served a community well for three years until exposure again ended in his dismissal.... ""The last sad playboy of the western world"" gives his answer- ""It's rascality, pure rascality""; that in itself assures some raffish to eccentric entertainment.

Pub Date: June 23rd, 1959
Publisher: Random House