All of the gold in California is not mineral; some is as weightless as pure air or a stock certificate. In this collection of anecdotes about con men, swindlers and frauds in California, the only real gold is that paid to the charming deceiver for his nonexistent uranium mine. (""The Atomic Energy Commission wants every ounce I can produce, ma'm."") But, says one historian, ""In California, gold was the whore, but the madam was oil."" Anyone who has seen the thousands of small oil wells scattered about Los Angeles in people's backyards will testify to the oil-consciousness of Californians. One elderly swindler, Homer Mills, was so successful that his various trials were only ways of letting investors know where he was so they could send him more money. Another fellow had a tremendous knack for bringing in oil right in front of the mark's eyes: he would have a tankful nearby and at the appropriate moment let it flow. Other frauds include the sale of diplomas allowing the buyer to set up his shingle as a doctor, lawyer or minister. Quacks are rampant as are religious phonies and bogus marriage counselors. The danger of the book is that it may become The Swindler's Bible, since it is quite specific on how swindlers develop their techniques.