The Man in the Rockefeller Suit by Mark Seal
Available in ebook, paperback or hardcover.
Who is the Man in the Rockefeller Suit?
Although I do not read many non-fiction books, the blurb grabbed my attention. I did not catch the news scandal in 2008 about the man who posed as Clark Rockefeller, but was actually a German immigrant named Christopher Gerhartsreiter, so this story was completely new to me. The author, Mark Seal, unravels the mystery of Christopher Gerhartsreiter’s journey from nothing to living a life of luxury, yet it is not a linear path. The more the author reveals about this man, the more questions arise.
How does a man manage to become a prominent member of a community, convince people of lies after lies, and the people are not even able to clearly answer where Christopher Gerhartsreiter actually lived and worked? He convinces employers to hire him without checking credentials. Every person he befriends serves a purpose, whether for marriage, money, or to climb the social ladder. He is the ultimate name dropper.
Christopher Gerhartsreiter sheds his identity multiple times, each time his story becomes more extravagant, until he eventually becomes Clark Rockefeller.
This story is accurately described as stranger than fiction. The Man in the Rockefeller Suit portrays a man who broke all boundaries of class and wealth to reach the equivalent of royalty in America, only to have the truth catch him in the end. I strongly recommend this story if you are a fan of this genre. It is one of the most entertaining and original books I’ve read this year, and not surprisingly, it is on the New York Times Bestseller List. However, this is not a book I would re-read.
As far as the writing, it is straight forward and I appreciate that the author weaves the story in ways that could imply certain characteristics and conclusions about Christopher Gerhartsreiter without force-feeding. My only complaint is that this was not written by the man himself, and therefore, is still quite a bit of his life that is unknown.
Despite receiving this book as a giveaway, I was too eager to tell my mother about this book, and now she expects me to ship her my copy…so in the long run it did cost a little something. Not that I mind the out of pocket expense for this gem. Now, I must ship this book to my mother.
The story of Clark Rockefeller is a stranger-than-fiction twist on the classic American success story. “The Man in the Rockefeller Suit” is a probing and cinematic exploration of an audacious imposter–and a man determined to live the American dream by any means necessary.