The Book of Swindles: Selections from a Late Ming Collection by Zhang Yingyu
Translated by Christopher Rea and Bruce Rusk
Columbia University Press, 2017
The Book of Swindles, compiled by an obscure writer from southern China, presents a fascinating tableau of criminal ingenuity. The flourishing economy of the late Ming period created overnight fortunes for merchants—and gave rise to a host of smooth operators, charlatans, forgers, and imposters seeking to siphon off some of the new wealth. Each story comes with commentary by the author, who expounds a moral lesson while also speaking as a connoisseur of the swindle. This volume provides a wealth of detail on social life during the late Ming.