Alright so, I took the default database from there https://skribbliohints.github.io/
and with the help of html, I extracted the words to a list separated by commas. It's useful when you want to translate those words into your native language. Word of advice
, when using google translate, do not put all words at once there, it can rapidly worsen the translation.
(And there is a last thing
. Their algorithm of picking only custom words is not working really good, at least for me. Meaning that I often get duplicates, despite having a list this big and without duplicates. I'm still trying to find some solution to this, so if somebody is experiencing this as well, share the knowledge please, I will do the same.) SOLUTION:
Thanks for the reply from PepegaWR
who identified the cause. I also tested it and there seems to be a custom words limit of 5000 characters. The easiest way in my opinion is to shuffle the words before each session to minimize the impact. Also thanks to the flynger
who had the same idea before me :)
Finally, here it is, enjoy the scribbling ^^ :
ABBA, AC/DC, Abraham Lincoln, Adidas, Africa, Aladdin, America, Amsterdam, Android, Angelina Jolie, Angry Birds, Antarctica, Anubis, Apple, Argentina, Asia, Asterix, Atlantis, Audi, Australia, BMW, BMX, Bambi, Band-Aid, Barack Obama, Bart Simpson, Batman, Beethoven, Bible, Big Ben, Bill Gates, Bitcoin, Black Friday, Bomberman, Brazil, Bruce Lee, Bugs Bunny, Canada, Capricorn, Captain America, Cat Woman, Cerberus, Charlie Chaplin, Chewbacca, China, Chinatown, Christmas, Chrome, Chuck Norris, Colosseum, Cookie Monster, Crash Bandicoot, Creeper, Croatia, Cuba, Cupid, DNA, Daffy Duck, Darwin, Darwin Watterson, Deadpool, Dexter, Discord, Donald Duck, Donald Trump, Dora, Doritos, Dracula, Dumbo, Earth, Easter, Easter Bunny, Egypt, Eiffel tower, Einstein, Elmo, Elon Musk, Elsa, Eminem, England, Europe, Excalibur, Facebook, Family Guy, Fanta, Ferrari, Finn, Finn and Jake, Flash, Florida, France, Frankenstein, Fred Flintstone, Gandalf, Gandhi, Garfield, Germany, God, Goofy, Google, Great Wall, Greece, Green Lantern, Grinch, Gru, Gumball, Happy Meal, Harry Potter, Hawaii, Hello Kitty, Hercules, Hollywood, Home Alone, Homer Simpson, Hula Hoop, Hulk, Ikea, India, Intel, Ireland, Iron Giant, Iron Man, Israel, Italy, Jack-o-lantern, Jackie Chan, James Bond, Japan, JayZ, Jenga, Jesus Christ, Jimmy Neutron, John Cena, Johnny Bravo, KFC, Katy Perry, Kermit, Kim Jong-un, King Kong, Kirby, Kung Fu, Lady Gaga, Las Vegas, Lasagna, Lego, Leonardo DiCaprio, Leonardo da Vinci, Lion King, London, London Eye, Luigi, MTV, Madagascar, Mario, Mark Zuckerberg, Mars, McDonalds, Medusa, Mercedes, Mercury, Mexico, Michael Jackson, Mickey Mouse, Microsoft, Milky Way, Minecraft, Miniclip, Minion, Minotaur, Mona Lisa, Monday, Monster, Mont Blanc, Morgan Freeman, Morse code, Morty, Mount Everest, Mount Rushmore, Mozart, Mr. Bean, Mr. Meeseeks, Mr Bean, Mr Meeseeks, Mummy, NASCAR, Nasa, Nemo, Neptune, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nike, Nintendo Switch, North Korea, Northern Lights, Norway, Notch, Nutella, Obelix, Olaf, Oreo, Pac-Man, Paris, Patrick, Paypal, Peppa Pig, Pepsi, Phineas and Ferb, Photoshop, Picasso, Pikachu, Pink Panther, Pinocchio, Playstation, Pluto, Pokemon, Popeye, Popsicle, Porky Pig, Portugal, Poseidon, Pringles, Pumba, Reddit, Rick, Robbie Rotten, Robin Hood, Romania, Rome, Russia, Samsung, Santa, Saturn, Scooby Doo, Scotland, Segway, Sherlock Holmes, Shrek, Singapore, Skittles, Skrillex, Skype, Slinky, Solar System, Sonic, Spain, Spartacus, Spiderman, SpongeBob, Squidward, Star Wars, Statue of Liberty, Steam, Stegosaurus, Steve Jobs, Stone Age, Sudoku, Suez Canal, Superman, Susan Wojcicki, Sydney Opera House, T-rex, Tails, Tarzan, Teletubby, Terminator, Tetris, The Beatles, Thor, Titanic, Tooth Fairy, Tower Bridge, Tower of Pisa, Tweety, Twitter, UFO, USB, Uranus, Usain Bolt, Vatican, Vault boy, Velociraptor, Venus, Vin Diesel, W-LAN, Wall-e, WhatsApp, William Shakespeare, William Wallace, Winnie the Pooh, Wolverine, Wonder Woman, Xbox, Xerox, Yin and Yang, Yoda, Yoshi, Youtube, Zelda, Zeus, Zorro, Zuma, abstract, abyss, accident, accordion, ace, acid, acne, acorn, action, actor, addiction, addition, adorable, adult, advertisement, afro, afterlife, air conditioner, airbag, aircraft, airplane, airport, alarm, albatross, alcohol, alien, allergy, alley, alligator, almond, alpaca, ambulance, anaconda, anchor, angel, anglerfish, angry, animation, anime, ant, anteater, antelope, antenna, anthill, antivirus, anvil, apartment, apocalypse, applause, apple, apple pie, apple seed, apricot, aquarium, arch, archaeologist, archer, architect, aristocrat, arm, armadillo, armor, armpit, arrow, ash, assassin, assault, asteroid, astronaut, asymmetry, athlete, atom, attic, audience, autograph, avocado, axe, baboon, baby, back pain, backbone, backflip, backpack, bacon, bad, badger, bag, bagel, bagpipes, baguette, bait, bakery, baklava, balance, balcony, bald, ball, ballerina, ballet, balloon, bamboo, banana, bandage, bandana, banjo, bank, banker, bar, barbarian, barbecue, barbed wire, barber, barcode, bark, barn, barrel, bartender, base, basement, basket, basketball, bat, bathroom, bathtub, battery, battle, battleship, bayonet, bazooka, beach, beak, bean, bean bag, beanie, beanstalk, bear, bear trap, beatbox, beaver, bed, bed bug, bed sheet, bedtime, bee, beef, beer, beet, beetle, bell, bell pepper, bellow, belly, belly button, below, belt, bench, betray, bicycle, bill, billiards, bingo, binoculars, biology, birch, bird, bird bath, birthday, biscuit, bite, black, black hole, blackberry, blacksmith, blanket, bleach, blender, blimp, blind, blindfold, blizzard, blood, blowfish, blue, blueberry, blush, boar, board, boat, bobsled, bodyguard, boil, bomb, booger, book, bookmark, bookshelf, boomerang, boots, border, bottle, bottle flip, bounce, bouncer, bow, bowl, bowling, box, boy, bracelet, braces, brain, brainwash, branch, brand, bread, breakfast, breath, brick, bricklayer, bride, bridge, broadcast, broccoli, broken heart, bronze, broom, broomstick, brownie, bruise, brunette, brush, bubble, bubble gum, bucket, building, bulge, bull, bulldozer, bullet, bumper, bungee jumping, bunk bed, bunny, burglar, burp, burrito, bus, bus driver, bus stop, butcher, butler, butt cheeks, butter, butterfly, button, cab driver, cabin, cabinet, cactus, cage, cake, calendar, camel, camera, campfire, camping, can, can opener, canary, candle, canister, cannon, canyon, cap, cape, cappuccino, captain, car wash, cardboard, carnival, carnivore, carpenter, carpet, carrot, cartoon, cash, casino, cast, cat, catalog, catapult, caterpillar, catfish, cathedral, cauldron, cauliflower, cave, caveman, caviar, ceiling, ceiling fan, celebrate, celebrity, cell, cell phone, cello, cement, centaur, centipede, chain, chainsaw, chair, chalk, chameleon, champagne, champion, chandelier, charger, cheek, cheeks, cheerleader, cheese, cheeseburger, cheesecake, cheetah, chef, chemical, cherry, cherry blossom, chess, chest, chest hair, chestnut, chestplate, chew, chicken, chihuahua, child, chime, chimney, chimpanzee, chin, chinchilla, chocolate, chopsticks, church, cicada cigarette, cinema, circle, circus, clap, clarinet, classroom, claw, clay, clean, clickbait, cliff, climb, cloak, clock, cloth, clothes hanger, cloud, clover, clown, clownfish, coach, coal, coast, coast guard, coaster, coat, cobra, cockroach, cocktail, coconut, cocoon, coffee, coffee shop, coffin, coin, cola, cold, collapse, collar, color-blind, comb, comedian, comedy, comet, comfortable, comic book, commander, commercial, communism, community, compass, complete, computer, concert, condiment, cone, confused, console, continent, controller, conversation, cookie, cookie jar, copper, copy, coral, coral reef, cord, cork, corkscrew, corn, corn dog, corner, cornfield, corpse, cotton, cotton candy, country, cousin, cow, cowbell, cowboy, coyote, crab, crack, crate, crawl space, crayon, cream, credit, credit card, cricket, cringe, crocodile, croissant, crossbow, crow, crowbar, crucible, cruise, crust, crystal, cube, cuckoo, cucumber, cup, cupboard, cupcake, curry, curtain, cushion, customer, cut, cute, cyborg, cylinder, cymbal, dagger, daisy, dalmatian, dance, dandelion, dandruff, darts, dashboard, daughter, day, dead, deaf, deep, deer, defense, delivery, demon, demonstration, dent, dentist, deodorant, depressed, derp, desert, desk, desperate, dessert, detective, detonate, dew, diagonal, diagram, diamond, diaper, dice, dictionary, die, diet, dig, dinner, dinosaur, diploma, dirty, disaster, disease, dishrag, dispenser, display, diss track, distance, diva, divorce, dizzy, dock, doctor, dog, doghouse, doll, dollar, dollhouse, dolphin, dome, dominoes, donkey, door, doorknob, dots, double, dough, download, dragon, dragonfly, drain, drama, drawer, dream, dress, drink, drip, drive, driver, drool, droplet, drought, drum, drum kit, duck, duct tape, duel, dwarf, dynamite, eagle, ear, earbuds, earthquake, earwax, east, eat, echo, eclipse, eel, egg, eggplant, elbow, elder, election, electric car, electric guitar, electrician, electricity, elephant, elevator, embers, emerald, emoji, employer, emu, end, engine, engineer, equator, eraser, error, eskimo, espresso, evaporate, evening, evolution, exam, excavator, exercise, explosion, eye, eyebrow, eyelash, eye shadow, fabric, fabulous, facade, face, face paint, factory, failure, fairy, fake teeth, fall, family, farm, farmer, fashion designer, fast, fast food, fast forward, father, faucet, feather, fence, fencing, fern, festival, fidget spinner, field, figurine, filmmaker, filter, finger, fingernail, fingertip, fire alarm, fire hydrant, fire truck, fireball, firecracker, firefighter, firefly, firehouse, fireman, fireplace, fireproof, fireside, firework, fish, fish bowl, fisherman, fist fight, fitness trainer, fizz, flag, flagpole, flamethrower, flamingo, flashlight, flask, flea, flight attendant, flock, floodlight, floppy disk, florist, flower, flu, fluid, flush, flute, fly, fly swatter, flying pig, fog, foil, folder, food, forehead, forest, forest fire, fork, fort, fortress, fortune, fossil, fountain, fox, frame, freckles, freezer, fridge, fries, frog, frostbite, frosting, frown, fruit, full, full moon, funeral, funny, fur, furniture, galaxy, gang, gangster, garage, garbage, garden, gardener, garlic, gas, gas mask, gasoline, gasp, gate, gem, gender, generator, genie, gentle, gentleman, geography, germ, geyser, ghost, giant, gift, giraffe, girl, gladiator, glass, glasses, glitter, globe, gloss, glove, glow, glowstick, glue, glue stick, gnome, goal, goat, goatee, goblin, godfather, gold, gold chain, golden apple, golden egg, goldfish, golf, golf cart, good, goose, gorilla, graduation, graffiti, grandmother, grapefruit, grapes, graph, grass, grasshopper, grave, gravedigger, gravel, graveyard, gravity, greed, grenade, grid, grill, grin, groom, grumpy, guillotine, guinea pig, guitar, gumball, gummy, gummy bear, gummy worm, hacker, hair, hair roller, hairbrush, haircut, hairspray, hairy, half, halo, ham, hamburger, hammer, hammock, hamster, hand, handicap, handle, handshake, hanger, happy, harbor, hard, hard hat, harmonica, harp, harpoon, hashtag, hat, hazard, hazelnut, head, headache, headband, headboard, heading, headphones, health, heart, heat, hedgehog, heel, heist, helicopter, hell, helmet, hen, hermit, hero, hexagon, hibernate, hieroglyph, high five, high heels, high score, highway, hilarious, hill, hip hop, hippie, hippo, hitchhiker, hive, hobbit, hockey, holiday, homeless, honey, honeycomb, hoof, hook, hop, hopscotch, horizon, horn, horse, horsewhip, hose, hospital, hot, hot chocolate, hot dog, hot sauce, hotel, hourglass, house, hovercraft, hug, hummingbird, hunger, hunter, hurdle, hurt, husband, hut, hyena, hypnotize, iPad, iPhone, ice, ice cream, ice cream truck, iceberg, icicle, idea, imagination, impact, incognito, industry, infinite, injection, insect, inside, insomnia, internet, intersection, interview, invasion, invention, invisible, iron, island, ivy, jacket, jackhammer, jaguar, jail, jalapeno, janitor, jaw, jazz, jeans, jeep, jello, jelly, jellyfish, jester, jet ski, joker, journalist, journey, judge, juggle, juice, jump rope, jungle, junk food, kangaroo, karaoke, karate, katana, kazoo, kebab, keg, kendama, ketchup, kettle, key, keyboard, kidney, kindergarten, king, kiss, kitchen, kite, kitten, kiwi, knee, kneel, knife, knight, knot, knuckle, koala, kraken, label, laboratory, ladder, lady, ladybug, lake, lamb, lamp, landlord, landscape, lane, language, lantern, lap, laptop, laser, lasso, laundry, lava, lava lamp, lawn mower, lawyer, leader, leaf, leak, leash, leather, leave, leech, legs, lemon, lemonade, lemur, lens, leprechaun, lettuce, levitate, librarian, library, licorice, lid, light bulb, lighter, lighthouse, lightning, lightsaber, lily, lilypad, limbo, lime, limousine, line, link, lion, lips, lipstick, litter box, lizard, llama, loading, loaf, lobster, lock, log, logo, lollipop, loot, loser, lotion, lottery, lounge, love, low, luck, luggage, lumberjack, lung, lynx, lyrics, macaroni, machine, macho, mafia, magazine, magic, magic trick, magic wand, magician, magma, magnet, magnifier, maid, mailbox, mailman, makeup, mall, mammoth, manatee, manhole, manicure, mannequin, mansion, mantis, map, maracas, marathon, marble, margarine, marigold, market, marmalade, marmot, marshmallow, mascot, mask, massage, match, matchbox, mattress, mayonnaise, mayor, maze, meal, meat, meatball, meatloaf, mechanic, meerkat, megaphone, melon, melt, meme, mermaid, message, messy, metal, meteorite, microphone, microscope, microwave, midnight, military, milk, milkman, milkshake, mime, miner, minigolf, minivan, mint, minute, mirror, missile, model, mohawk, mold, mole, money, monk, monkey, monster, moon, moose, mop, morning, mosquito, moss, moth, mothball, mother, motherboard, motorbike, motorcycle, mountain, mouse, mousetrap, mouth, movie, mud, muffin, mug, murderer, muscle, museum, mushroom, musket, mustache, mustard, nachos, nail, nail file, nail polish, napkin, narwhal, nature, navy, neck, needle, neighbor, neighborhood, nerd, nest, network, newspaper, nickel, night, nightclub, nightmare, ninja, noob, noodle, north, nose, nose hair, nose ring, nosebleed, nostrils, notebook, notepad, nothing, notification, novel, nugget, nuke, nun, nurse, nut, nutcracker, nutmeg, nutshell, oar, observatory, ocean, octagon, octopus, office, oil, old, omelet, onion, open, opera, orange, orangutan, orbit, orca, orchestra, orchid, organ, origami, ostrich, otter, outside, oval, overweight, owl, oxygen, oyster, paddle, page, pain, paint, paintball, pajamas, palace, palette, palm, palm tree, pan, pancake, panda, panpipes, panther, pants, papaya, paper, paper bag, parachute, parade, parakeet, parents, park, parking, parrot, party, password, pasta, pastry, path, patient, patio, patriot, pause, pavement, paw, peace, peach, peacock, peanut, pear, peas, peasant, pedal, pelican, pencil, pencil case, pencil sharpener, pendulum, penguin, peninsula, penny, pensioner, pepper, pepperoni, perfume, periscope, person, pet food, pet shop, petal, pharmacist, photo frame, photograph, photographer, piano, pickaxe, pickle, picnic, pie, pig, pigeon, piggy bank, pigsty, pike, pill, pillar, pillow, pillow fight, pilot, pimple, pin, pinball, pine, pine cone, pineapple, pink, pinky, pinwheel, pipe, pirate, pirate ship, pistachio, pistol, pitchfork, pizza, plague, planet, plank, plate, platypus, player, playground, plow, plug, plumber, plunger, pocket, pogo stick, point, poison, poisonous, poke, polar bear, policeman, pollution, polo, pond, pony, ponytail, poodle, poop, poor, popcorn, pope, poppy, popular, porch, porcupine, portal, portrait, positive, postcard, poster, pot, pot of gold, potato, potion, pound, powder, prawn, pray, preach, pregnant, present, president, pretzel, price tag, priest, prince, princess, printer, prism, prison, pro, procrastination, professor, programmer, promotion, protest, provoke, prune, pub, pudding, puddle, puffin, puma, pumpkin, punishment, punk, puppet, purity, purse, puzzle, pyramid, quarter, queen, queue, quicksand, quill, quilt, quokka, raccoon, race, racecar, radar, radiation, radio, radish, raft, rail, rain, rainbow, raincoat, raindrop, rainforest, raisin, rake, ram, ramp, rapper, raspberry, rat, ravioli, razor, razorblade, read, reality, reception, receptionist, record, rectangle, recycling, red, red carpet, reeds, referee, reflection, reindeer, relationship, religion, remote, repeat, reptile, rest, restaurant, retail, revolver, rewind, rhinoceros, rib, ribbon, rice, ring, ringtone, risk, river, roadblock, robber, robin, robot, rock, rocket, rockstar, roll, roof, room, rooster, root, rose, royal, rubber, ruby, rug, ruler, run, rune, sad, saddle, safari, safe, sailboat, salad, sale, saliva, salmon, salt, saltwater, sand, sand castle, sandbox, sandstorm, sandwich, satellite, sauce, sauna, sausage, saxophone, scar, scarecrow, scarf, scary, scent, school, science, scientist, scissors, scoop, score, scream, screen, screw, scribble, scuba, sculpture, scythe, sea, sea lion, seafood, seagull, seahorse, seal, search, seashell, seasick, season, seat belt, seaweed, second, security, seed, seesaw, semicircle, sensei, server, sew, sewing machine, shadow, shake, shallow, shampoo, shape, shark, shaving cream, sheep, shelf, shell, shipwreck, shirt, shock, shoe, shoebox, shoelace, shop, shopping, shopping cart, short, shotgun, shoulder, shout, shovel, shower, shrew, shrub, shy, sick, signature, silence, silo, silver, silverware, sing, sink, sit, six pack, skateboard, skateboarder, skates, skeleton, ski, ski jump, skin, skinny, skribbl.io, skull, skunk, sky, skydiving, skyline, skyscraper, slam, sledge, sledgehammer, sleep, sleeve, slide, slime, slingshot, slippery, slope, sloth, slow, slump, smell, smile, smoke, snail, snake, sneeze, sniper, snow, snowball, snowball fight, snowboard, snowflake, snowman, soap, soccer, social media, socket, socks, soda, soil, soldier, sombrero, son, sound, soup, south, space, space suit, spaceship, spade, spaghetti, spark, sparkles, spatula, speaker, spear, spelunker, sphinx, spider, spin, spinach, spine, spiral, spit, spoiler, sponge, spool, spoon, spore, sports, spray paint, spring, sprinkler, spy, square, squid, squirrel, stab, stadium, stage, stamp, stand, stapler, star, starfish, starfruit, statue, steam, step, stereo, sting, stingray, stomach, stone, stoned, stop sign, stork, storm, stove, straw, strawberry, streamer, street, stress, strong, student, studio, study, stylus, submarine, subway, sugar, suitcase, summer, sun, sunburn, sunflower, sunglasses, sunrise, sunshade, supermarket, superpower, surface, surfboard, surgeon, survivor, sushi, swag, swamp, swan, swarm, sweat, sweater, swimming pool, swimsuit, swing, switch, sword, swordfish, symphony, table, table tennis, tablecloth, tablet, tabletop, taco, tadpole, tail, tailor, take off, talent show, tampon, tangerine, tank, tape, tarantula, target, taser, tattoo, taxi, taxi driver, tea, teacher, teapot, tear, teaspoon, teddy bear, telephone, telescope, television, temperature, tennis, tennis racket, tent, tentacle, text, thermometer, thief, thin, think, thirst, throat, throne, thug, thumb, thunder, thunderstorm, ticket, tickle, tie, tiger, time machine, timpani, tiny, tip, tiramisu, tire, tired, tissue, tissue box, toad, toast, toaster, toe, toenail, toilet, tomato, tomb, tombstone, tongue, toolbox, tooth, toothbrush, toothpaste, toothpick, top hat, torch, tornado, torpedo, tortoise, totem, toucan, touch, tourist, tow truck, towel, tower, toy, tractor, traffic, traffic light, trailer, train, translate, trap, trapdoor, trash can, traveler, treadmill, treasure, tree, treehouse, trend, triangle, trick shot, tricycle, trigger, triplets, tripod, trombone, trophy, tropical, truck, truck driver, trumpet, tuba, tug, tumor, tuna, tunnel, turd, turkey, turnip, turtle, tuxedo, twig, type, udder, ukulele, umbrella, uncle, underground, underweight, undo, unibrow, unicorn, unicycle, uniform, universe, upgrade, vacation, vaccine, vacuum, valley, vampire, vanilla, vanish, vault, vegetable, vegetarian, vein, vent, vertical, veterinarian, victim, victory, video, video game, village, villain, vine, vinegar, viola, violence, violin, virtual reality, virus, vise, vision, vitamin, vlogger, vodka, volcano, volleyball, volume, vomit, voodoo, vortex, vote, vulture, vuvuzela, waffle, waist, waiter, wake up, walk, wall, wallpaper, walnut, walrus, warehouse, warm, wart, wasp, watch, water, water cycle, water gun, waterfall, wave, wax, weak, wealth, weapon, weasel, weather, web, website, wedding, welder, well, werewolf, west, western, whale, wheel, wheelbarrow, whisk, whisper, whistle, white, wife, wig, wiggle, willow, wind, windmill, window, windshield, wine, wine glass, wing, wingnut, winner, winter, wire, wireless, witch, witness, wizard, wolf, wonderland, woodpecker, wool, work, workplace, world, worm, wound, wrapping, wreath, wrench, wrestler, wrestling, wrinkle, wrist, writer, x-ray, xylophone, yacht, yardstick, yawn, yearbook, yellow, yeti, yo-yo, yogurt, yolk, young, youtuber, zebra, zeppelin, zigzag, zipline, zipper, zombie, zoo, zoom,
This is my third list for this sub. I hope you enjoy it. submitted by
ART THIEVES, FORGERS, SMUGGLERS.
The Art of the Steal by Christopher Mason. A true story about the auction houses Sotheby’s and Christie’s and how they conspired to cheat their clients out of millions of dollars.
The Billionaire’s Vinegar: The Mystery of the World’s Most Expensive Bottle of Wine by Benjamin Wallace. The most expensive bottle of wine and the conflicting reports about its history. This is a book that would enchant wine conessi… conues… lovers.
The Gardner Heist: The True Story of the World’s Largest Unsolved Art Theft by Ulrich Boser. Author Ulrich Boser looks at the unsolved art theft case of Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.
The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness, and Greed by John Vaillant. Grant Hadwin, a logger-turned-activist, fells a unique 165 feet Sitka spruce in an act of protest. John Vaillant takes the readers into the heart of North America’s last great forest to find out why he did that.
Hitler’s Art Thief: Hildebrand Gurlitt, the Nazis, and the Looting of Europe’s Treasures by Susan Ronald. Hildebrand Gurlitt was an art thief, or as he put it himself, an ‘official dealer’ for Hitler and Goebbels. But he stole from the Jews and Nazis alike. This book was published after his hoard was recently (2013) discovered which created an international furor.
The Irish Game: A True Story of Crime and Art by Matthew Hart. This book is about the art theft at Ireland’s Russborough House in 1986. The suspect, a gangster named Martin Cahill, played cat and mouse with police for years.
The Island of Lost Maps: A True Story of Cartographic Crime by Miles Harvey. When you think about stealing some valuable art, do maps come to your mind? Then this book is for you. Gilbert Joseph Bland Jr. stole numerous centuries-old maps from research libraries in US and Canada.
I Was Vermeer: The Rise and Fall of the Twentieth Century’s Greatest Forger by Frank Wynne. Han van Meegeren became so much adapt at forging Vermeer paintings that it is said that even professional experts would find it difficult to point out his works from the originals. He earned more than $50 million by selling his forgeries – and he even swindled the Nazis.
The Lizard King: The True Crimes and Passions of the World’s Greatest Reptile Smugglers by Bryan Christy. Reptile smuggling is a big “business”. The author, a federal agent, suspected a reptile business owner of being a major smuggler and he started investigating. It was not as simple as it sounds because at one point he was chased by a mother alligator and even bitten by a python.
The Lost Chalice: The Epic Hunt for a Priceless Masterpiece by Vernon Silver. A 2500 year old cup made by the Greek master Euphronios which depicted the fall of Troy gets stolen and sold (along with 3 other such vessels). Then due to the questionable practice of some art dealers, no one can track down its last known owner.
The Lost Painting by Jonathan Harr. With nothing better to do, the author embarks on a journey to discover a Caravaggio painting which was lost to time two hundred years ago.
The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession by Allison Hoover Bartlett. John Charles Gilkey stole rare books not because he wanted to make profit as most thieves do, but because he loved books. I guess if you want to call yourself a book-reader but don’t actually want to say… read a book, you could just steal them and show them off to your friends. But who are we to question the wisdom of “booklovers”, right?
The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Beauty and Obsession by Susan Orlean. If you thought that stealing maps is a weird “job” to have, how about stealing a rare breed of flower? We all know about the Tulipomania that gripped Netherlands in the 1630s. But this is a modern tale, and the book is perhaps one of the most popular ones on this list.
Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World’s Stolen Treasures by Robert K. Wittman, John Shiffman. This book is about Robert K. Wittman, FBI’s founder of the Art Crime Team and his undercover missions around the world to rescue various pieces of stolen art.
Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art by Laney Salisbury. You could have a Jackson Pollock lying around in your basement, but if you can’t prove that the piece is real, you might as well use it as a table cloth (I might have exaggerated there a bit, but you get the point). John Myatt, a struggling artist, and John Drewe, a conman who knew the importance of Provenance in the art world, duped many people and museums by creating a fake paper trial that seemed to prove that the art was a real thing and not a forgery. So much so that the experts believe that there might still be some fake paintings created by Myatt displayed in prominent places as the real thing.
The Rescue Artist: A True Story of Art, Thieves, and the Hunt for a Missing Masterpiece by Edward Dolnick. Dolnick writes about the theft of Edvard Munch’s The Scream from the National Gallery in Oslo in 1994 and the subsequent investigation that took place to track it down.
Selling Hitler by Robert Harris In mid-eighties, Hitler’s diaries were “discovered” and many experts fell for the con. The backpeddling many did when it was revealed that the diaries were not real is really amusing to read about.
Shell Games: Rogues, Smugglers, and the Hunt for Nature’s Bounty by Craig Welch. This book is about the poaching of a larger-than-life clam – a Geoduck, to be precise, and the subsequent chase from the wildlife police to nab the poacher.
Stealing History: Tomb Raiders, Smugglers and the Looting of the Ancient World by Roger Atwood. This book provides a sweeping history of thefts of various priceless antiques.
Stealing the Mystic Lamb: The True Story of the World’s Most Coveted Masterpiece by Noah Charney. The twelve panel oil-painting of the Mystic Lamb is the most frequently stolen artwork in the world. It was stolen 13 times. One wonders whether they could have guarded it a little better after the first couple of times, you know. Anyway, this book describes the events of each theft.
Stolen World: A Tale of Reptiles, Smugglers, and Skulduggery by Jennie Erin Smith. Two reptile smugglers compete against each other to conquer the illegal trade for themselves. The funny thing is, the Zoos stood against them in the courts, but they had no problem buying rare fauna from the two smugglers, sometimes simultaneously.
Tangled Vines: Greed, Murder, Obsession, and an Arsonist in the Vineyards of California by Frances Dinkelspiel. A massive fire destroyed wines worth $250 million in a California warehouse, making it the largest destruction of wine in history. It was done by a conman named Mark Anderson, who rented storage space at the same warehouse. This book tells why he did that and also goes into the surprisingly bloody history of wine trade in California. (reads well with cranberry juice).
Vanished Smile: The Mysterious Theft of Mona Lisa by R. A. Scotti. On August 21, 1911, a man walked out of the Louvre with the Mona Lisa tucked inside his coat (should have painted it bigger, eh Vinci?). I am not going to spoil this book for anyone. Read it if you want to know whether Mona Lisa was recovered or was lost to time forever.
CARTELS, GANGS, UNDERWORLD.
American Desperado: My Life --- From Mafia Soldier to Cocaine Cowboy to Secret Government Asset by Jon Roberts, Evan Wright. Jon Roberts, who starred in documentary Cocaine Cowboys tells his story to the journalist Evan Wright in this book. Roberts smuggled drugs to Miami for the Medellin Cartel (which will feature many times in this category).
At the Devil’s Table: The Untold Story of the Insider Who Brought Down the Cali Cartel by William C. Rempel. This is Narcos Season 3, basically. Remember the family guy who gets involved with the Cali Cartel and mops around for the whole season even though he had an unbelievably hot wife who was clearly out of his league? That character was based on Rempel. And if I must say so, the book is more compelling than that season of Narcos. Nothing can beat Agent Pena, though.
Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob by Dick Lehr, Gerard O’Neill. The story of James ‘Whitey’ Bulger – the head of the Irish Mob in Boston - who became an informant for the FBI and chaos ensued. Depp plays Whitey Bulger in the movie adaptation with a soggy tortilla glued to his face as make-up.
Blow: How a Small -Town Bay Made $100 Million with the Medellin Cocaine Cartel and Lost it All by Bruce Porter. Another book where Johnny Depp plays the main character in the movie adaptation. This book is about George Jung, who after meeting Carlos Lehder, started selling cocaine in the United States through Medellin Cartel.
Cocaine Diaries: A Venezuelan Prison Nightmare by Paul Keany, Jeff Farrell. Paul Keany was caught smuggling half-a-million euro worth of cocaine into Venezuela. He was sentenced to 8 years in prison. Now, prisons everywhere aren’t exactly fun places to be, but Los Teques where Keany was incarcerated was nothing short of hell on earth.
Confessions of a Yakuza by Junichi Saga. Junichi Saga was a doctor by profession. A patient, who was a former Yakuza, recounted his life story before him. Saga recorded the conversations, and broke doctor-patient confidentiality by writing this book.
Doctor Dealer: The Rise and Fall of an All-American Boy and His Multimillion-Dollar Cocaine Empire by Mark Bowden. A dentist named Larry Lavin builds the foundation for a cocaine empire in the United States.
Donnie Brasco by Joseph D. Pistone, Richard Woodley. Joseph D. Pistone, an FBI agent, goes undercover for six years to infiltrate the Mafia. Do watch the movie too, it is Depp’s last movie without weird make-up.
El Narco: Inside Mexico’s Criminal Insurgency by Ioan Grillo. Journalist Ioan Grillo has written, arguably, the definitive book on Mexican drug cartels. Why he is still alive is anybody’s guess.
Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets by Sudhir Venkatesh. Venkatesh, who was a sociology grad student at the time, infiltrated one of Chicago’s most notorious gangs. This is one of a kind type of book.
Gomorrah by Roberto Saviano. This book is about the Italian Crime Network called Camorra in Naples, Italy. Due to his intensive investigative journalism which exposed lot of insider information about the crime syndicate, author Saviano still has to live under constant police protection.
The Good Mothers: The True Story of the Women Who Took on the World’s Most Powerful Mafia by Alex Perry. This is a recent book, where the author Alex Perry looks inside the ruthless Calabrian Mafia of Italy and three women who want to save their own and their children’s lives. This is a fascinating and courageous look into an aspect of the Mafia which is often overlooked by most.
Hunting El Chapo: The Inside Story of the American Lawman Who Captured the World’s Most Wanted Drug-Lord by Andrew Hogan, Douglas Century. Remember when Joaquin Guzman was caught for the first time and then he escaped and then he was caught again for good? Yes? Then read this one. But this book only focuses on the operation that nabbed him for the first time. I must warn you though – the author, Andrew Hogan – is really really in love with himself and it seeps into his writing.
The Infiltrator: My Secret Life Inside the Dirty Banks Behind Pablo Escobar’s Medellin Cartel by Robert Mazur. Mazur went undercover and actually became a money launderer for Pablo Escobar. This book is more about how bankers actively helped to launder the drug money and how Mazur helped to bring them down.
Killing Pablo: The Hunt for the World’s Greatest Outlaw by Mark Bowden. This is the best book about tracking and eventually killing Pablo Escobar. And as Walter Jr. pointed out to Walter White, it focuses on the good guys, not the bad ones. Good companion book to Pablo Escobar: My Father written by Escobar’s son.
Marching Powder: A True Story of Friendship, Cocaine, and South America’s Strangest Jail by Rusty Young. The author stays inside San Pedro jail for months with a drug smuggler to chronicle his tale. This is one of the most popular books written on cocaine smuggling.
McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld by Misha Glenny. This is a thorough investigation into organized crime worldwide which accounts for 1/5th of total GDP of the world. This book would please readers who are into extensively researched true-crime history books, not so much a casual reader (inb4 - I just read 5 pages of McMafia and wow… just wow).
Mr. Blue: Memoirs of a Renegade by Edward Bunker. Edward Bunker had had an eventful life. Incarceration for two and a half decades, being on FBI’s most wanted list, and being a crime novelist. This is his autobiography.
Mr. Nice by Howard Marks. Howard Marks started dealing dope in small quantities while he was studying at Oxford – as you do – and then eventually graduated to dealing it in tons (what the hell was he studying there? Oh, philosophy). This is his fascinating story.
Narcoland: The Mexican Drug Lords and Their Godfathers by Anabel Hernandez. Yet another book that resulted in the author getting death threats. This proves the old cliché true that the pen is mightier than the sword; until the sword comes down and cuts your neck. That’s why the author has to live under constant protection.
Narconomics: How to Run a Drug Cartel by Tom Wainwright. Any aspiring drug lords should read this instruction manual. Just kidding. Wainwright goes deep into the functioning of various drug cartels and at the end also comes up with a plan to defeat them.
News of a Kidnapping by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Little known author tries his hand at true-crime. Pablo Escobar kidnapped 10 journalists when he was on the run from the authorities. This book revolves around that event.
The Night it Rained Guns: Unravelling the Purulia Arms Drop Conspiracy by Chandan Nandy. On a December night in 1995, someone airdropped three weapons-laden wooden pallets over Purulia, West Bengal. Who did it and why? This book tells the story about one of India’s greatest ever security breaches.
No Angel: My Undercover Journey to the Inner Circle of the Hells Angels by Jay Dobyns, Nils Johnson-Shelton. Dobyns was the first federal agent to infiltrate the inner circle of the notorious biker gang. This is his story.
Pablo Escobar: My Father by Juan Pablo Escobar. Juan Pablo is an architect and lives and practices his trade in Argentina. Even though Pablo was his father, Juan does not try to justify his actions even a little bit. This is one of the best books written on Pablo Escobar.
The Snakehead: An Epic Tale of the Chinatown Underworld and the American Dream by Patrick Radden Keefe. Sister Ping, leader of the Chinese underworld in the US, earned $40 million a year smuggling people from China. Told from the viewpoints of gangsters, investigators, and poor immigrants alike, this book provides a unique window into the world of human smuggling.
Scores: How I Opened the Hottest Strip Club in New York City, Was Extorted out of Millions by the Gambino Family, and Became One of the Most Successful Mafia Informants in FBI History by Michael D. Blutrich. I am disappointed that they went with FBI instead of Federal Bureau of Investigation in the title. Should have made it longer. Scores: How I Opened the Hottest Strip Club in New York City on the 34th Street Just Opposite the Starbucks, Was Extorted out of 4.54 Millions and 55 Cents Plus Taxes by the Gambino Family, and Became One of the Most Successful Mafia Informants in Federal Bureau of Investigation History by Michael Dostoyevsky Blutrich
Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan by Jake Adelstein. The author, working as a reporter in Japan, writes about the seedy underbelly of crime in the country.
The Untouchables by Eliot Ness, Oscar Fraley. Where’s Nitty? He’s in the car. Great movie. How Eliot Ness and his team started the downward spiral in criminal career of Al Capone. A somewhat embellished account was also written in the book, but nonetheless, it is a gripping tale.
Veerappan: Chasing the Brigand by K. Vijay Kumar. Koose Muniswamy Veerappan was the last big outlaw of India. A sandalwood smuggler who lived in the forest to evade the police, Veerappan killed hundreds of policemen and civilians. K. Vijay Kumar, the officer who led the task force that ultimately brought down the brigand, is the author of this book.
Wiseguy: Life in a Mafia Family by Nicholas Pileggi. I’m funny how, I mean funny like I’m a clown, I amuse you? Goodfellas is perhaps the best Mafia movie ever made, so read it in his own words why Pileggi might fold under questioning.
Zero Zero Zero by Roberto Saviano, Virginia Jewiss. This Saviano guy must have a death wish. But as a handsome list-writer once eloquently said, “If bitten already by a King Cobra, what difference it makes if you French kiss a Black Mamba?” Since the publication of his book on the Italian crime syndicate, Saviano has to live under constant police protection. So to make sure they don’t slack off, he wrote a book on Cocaine Cartel, this time acquiring lots of admirers in Latin America.
The Art of Making Money: The Story of a Master Counterfeiter by Jason Kersten. The Art of making money is to make other people work for you; not the other way round. But more scrupulous method of making money would be to counterfeit it. Art Williams did exactly that.
Catch Me If You Can: The True Story of a Real Fake by Frank W. Abagnale. Maybe the most popular book on this list, Abagnale Jr.’s book is not to be missed even if you have watched the movie starring the actor who had sex with a bear (no, not Tormund).
Charlatan: America’s Most Dangerous Huckster, the Man Who Pursued Him, and the Age of Flimflam by Pope Brock. One “Dr.” John R. Brinkley, set-up a medical practice to surgically insert goat glands in human testicles to restore their fading sex drive. I am not joking, this happened.
Conman: A Master Swindler’s Own Story by J. R. Weil, W. T. Brannon. Known as “Yellow Kid” Weil was a master conman, who duped public of more than $8 million 100 years ago. He’s called by many as the greatest conman of all time (second to the companies that charge service fees on the internet, of course).
Eyeing the Flash: The Making of a Carnival Con Artist by Peter Fenton. Fenton was a math student until he turned into a carnival con artist. How many bananas he stole from the monkeys? How many bales of potatoes from the elephants? Read this book to find out.
Inconvenient People: Lunacy, Liberty and the Mad-Doctors in Victorian England by Sarah Wise. If you have any annoying friends who romanticize the Victorian era and say that they would have liked to live there, tell them to read this book and get back to you after that.
The Man in the Rockefeller Suit: The Astonishing Rise and Spectacular Fall of a Serial Impostor by Mark Seal. This is the true story of one of the greatest impostors of all time. The man could have impersonated a chihuahua if he wanted to.
The Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower by James Francis Johnson. Viktor Lustig sold the Eiffel Tower not once, but twice. I still have the relevant papers that my great grandfather left us. I’m going to shift it to Nauru or Detroit.
The Mark Inside: A Perfect Swindle, a Cunning Revenge, and a Small History of the Big Con by Amy Reading. This is a revenge story of a man who sets out to con the conmen who conned him twice. Unfortunately, the book could have been written better, but it is still worth having a look at.
Playing Dead: A Journey Through the World of Death Fraud by Elizabeth Greenwood. I once tried playing dead in a meeting when asked about the progress on my project. But there are people who fake their death for lesser gains, such as insurance fraud and debt fraud. Author Elizabeth Greenwood journeys into the dark world of death fraud to find out more.
Ponzi’s Scheme: The True Story of a Financial Legend by Mitchell Zuckoff. Charles Ponzi was so successful in duping people that we have immortalized his name by terming such swindles after him. At one point, he was raking in $2 millions a week. How many weeks would it take you to earn 2 million dollars at your current income? (sorry, that got heavy fast. It hurt me too).
A Rum Affair: A True Story of Botanical Fraud by Karl Sabbagh. One botanist claimed that some species of plants on the islands south of Scotland survived the last Ice Age. Another botanist doubted him. This might not sound like a big fraud if you are not into plants, but believe me when I say that the 2 botanists who just read this threw their phones away in disgust and disbelief.
Starvation Heights: A True Story of Murder and Malice in the Woods of the Pacific Northwest by Gregg Olsen. A quack doctor named Linda Hazard developed a technique called “fasting treatment”. The story focuses on two sisters who fell for the quack’s assurances that they would be cured of all the diseases - real or imagined. This book is quite infuriating to read. Hazard was a despicable human being.
Swindled: From Poison Sweets to Counterfeit Coffee – The Dark History of the Food Cheats by Bee Wilson. Wilson looks from ancient Rome to current times for food frauds. And she finds them aplenty (companion read - while having a nice snack).
A Treasury of Deception: Liars, Misleaders, Hoodwinkers, and the Extraordinary True Stories of History’s Greatest Hoaxes, Fakes and Frauds by Michael Farquhar. This is a good bathroom book about fakers through history.
The Woman Who Wasn’t There: The True Story of an Incredible Deception by Robin Gaby Fisher, Angelo J. Guglielmo Jr. Have you heard about Tania Head? If you haven’t, I urge you to skip this book. Tania Head duped survivors of 9/11 and the whole world alike into believing that she was one of the survivors from the South Tower of World Trade Center. I feel enraged just by typing this. So just read this book if you want to know more about her. There are a couple of documentaries out there too.
The Cuckoo’s Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage by Clifford Stoll. Long before internet became a place for cat memes, Cliff Stoll was working at a research lab as a systems manager. One day he found 75 cents of accounting error. This made him alert that an unauthorized person was logging into the system. Thus began his lone effort of tracking down the spy.
Exploding the Phone: The Untold Story of the Teenagers and Outlaws Who Hacked Ma Bell by Phil Lapsley. Before there was internet, or even personal computers, mobsters and teenagers hacked the telephone system.
Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker by Kevin D. Mitnick, William L. Simon. The book tells the story of one of the best hackers of all times, Kevin Mitnick, and his cat and mouse game with the FBI.
The Spider Network: The Wild Story of a Math Genius, a Gang of Backstabbing Bankers, and One of the Greatest Scams in Financial History by David Enrich. A group of bankers manipulated daily interest rates just a fraction here and there on loans worth trillions of dollars and made some serious cash for themselves. This book also rocks one of the ugliest book covers of 2017.
MUTINEERS, PIRATES, OUTLAWS.
Batavia’s Graveyard: The True Story of the Mad Heretic Who Led History’s Bloodiest Mutiny by Mike Dash. I was torn whether to include this book in the list as the history of Batavia’s mutiny is littered with corpses. But as the focus is on the mutiny, I am going to keep it here. This event could give the Medusa’s raft a run for its money.
The Floating Brothel: The Extraordinary True Story of an Eighteenth-Century Ship and its Cargo of Female Convicts by Sian Rees. Poor girls in England, most of who were petty thieves, were given a chance to sail to Botany Bay in Australia to create a new life for themselves and the male population of New South Wales. But the real story happened at the sea on board the ship Lady Julian.
The Last Outlaws: The Lives and Legends of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid by Thom Hatch. Butch: What happened to the old bank? It was beautiful. Guard: People kept robbing it. Butch: Small price to pay for beauty. The book might not be full of memorable dialogues as the movie, but if you want to know more about the legendary outlaws, give this book a chance.
Lost Paradise: From Mutiny on the Bounty to a Modern-Day Legacy of Sexual Mayhem, the Dark Secrets of Pitcairn Island Revealed by Kathy Marks. Mutiny of the Bounty is perhaps the most infamous of mutinies that occurred at sea. Even after the event and hundreds of years later, the descendants of Fletcher Christian and his sailors continue to live a crime-filled life like their forefathers on Pitcairn Island.
The Pirate Hunter: The True Story of Captain Kidd by Richard Zacks. This book will change your perception of Captain Kidd, that’s for sure.
To Hell on a Fast Horse: Billy the Kid, Pat Garrett, and the Epic Chase to Justice in the Old West by Mark Lee Gardner. This non-fiction book concentrates on Sheriff Pat Garrett’s chase in pursuit of the bandit Billy the Kid. If you like reading westerns, this one and The Last Outlaws are not to be missed.
Under the Black Flag: The Romance and the Reality of Life Among the Pirates by David Cordingly. Cordingly takes a look at life among the pirates. Some of your romanticism would be squashed, but there were some good things about being a pirate too. Life among the pirates was neither black nor white; it was beige.
Arms and the Dudes: How Three Stoners from Miami Beach Became the Most Unlikely Gunrunners in History by Guy Lawson. Three kids won a 300 million dollar contract – legitimately – I must add, to supply ammunition to the Afghanistan military. They had no money, but still they almost pulled it off. I don’t know, read this book, and if you’re a US citizen, visit the websites mentioned in the book, see if they are still doing business the same way, and if you want, you can become a supplier to the army too. Don’t forget to send me my cut (the movie War Dogs was trash).
The Brother: The Untold Story of Atomic Spy David Greenglass and How He Sent His Sister, Ethel Rosenberg, to the Electric Chair by Sam Roberts. Even if you’re not a United Statian of American (USians?), chances are you might have read at least something about the execution of the Rosenberg couple as spies. This is probably the best book about the subject.
Curveball: Spies, Lies, and the Man Behind Them: How America Went to War in Iraq by Bob Drogin. How many weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq? If your answer is “what’s that?” then congratulations, you’re not unlike one of your former presidents. Who told the USians that there were WMDs with Saddam? Curveball.
The Confessions of an Economic Hitman by John Perkins. Perkins was an economic hitman, who at the instruction of US intelligence agencies and giant corporations cajoled and blackmailed other country leaders to serve US foreign policy and award lucrative contracts to American businesses (now that job has been transferred to the White House).
A Kim Jong – Il Production: The Extraordinary True Story of a Kidnapped Filmmaker, His Star Actress, and a Young Dictator’s Rise to Power by Paul Fischer. Say you want to make a big movie for your country. But there is no one in your country who can handle such an ambitious project. What do you do? Hire some talent from other country? But you’re Kim Jong – Il. Oh. Then you just kidnap them, and force them to make the glorious movie of yours. Read this book. It’s pretty absurd (the movie they eventually made for Kim was utter shit. The Room would look like Gone with the Wind compared to that abomination).
The Nuclear Jihadist: The True Story of the Man Who Sold the World’s Most Dangerous Secrets… And How We Could Have Stopped Him by Douglas Frantz, Catherine Collins. One day a man Abdul Qadeer Khan caught a plane to Pakistan from Europe. With him he had blueprints of the mechanism that could prepare weapons grade Uranium that he had stolen from the lab he worked at in the last 3 years. He would make the first atomic bomb for Pakistan with that information. Then he sold the tech to stable countries like Iran, North Korea and Libya. How can someone get away with stealing such powerful information? Read this book to find out.
Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program that Brought Nazi Scientists to America by Annie Jacobsen. This is a pretty controversial topic that has only gained wider acknowledgement in recent decades. Read this book to know in detail how bogus the claims of justice being served to the perpetrators of the Holocaust were. Basically, if you were a scientist, you were very likely to be acquitted from any War Crimes allegations.
The Real Odessa: How Peron Brought the Nazi War Criminals to Argentina by Uki Goni. How did most of the Nazis who managed to escape from Germany ended up in South America? Read about the collusion of various entities and institutions that made it possible in this book.
The Spy Who Couldn’t Spell: A Dyslexic Traitor, an Unbreakable Code, and the FBI’s Hunt for America’s Stolen Secrets by Yudhijit Bhattacharjee. This is the true story of a mole in FBI, how he attempted to sell classified information and how FBI tried to track him down.
Ballad of the Whiskey Robber: A True Story of Bank Heists, Ice Hockey, Transylvanian Pelt Smuggling, Moonlighting Detectives, and Broken Hearts by Julian Rubinstein. If there is one thief in this list that I admire, it is without a doubt, Attila Ambrus. Ambrus was known as a gentleman thief, who would ask – no, request - the teller to fill his bag with money. If you read this book, it would be hard for you to dislike Attila even though he was a thief.
Confessions of a Master Jewel Thief by Bill Mason, Lee Gruenfeld. Bill Mason looted many famous personalities in his long career as a jewel thief. In this book he tells how he did it.
The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century by Kirk W. Johnson. Do you know there are people whose hobby is fly tying? The feathery thing that you attach to the hook to catch fish? But these are not your average fly tiers. They use feathers from exotic birds to create different ties whose total cost could run in thousands of dollars. Moreover, many of the most coveted birds are either protected or extinct. So one night a man named Edwin Rist broke into Tring museum and took hundreds of bird skins, some that belonged to Darwin, to fuel his hobby and even getting rich by selling precious feathers to other tiers. Don’t miss this book.
Finders Keepers: The Story of a Man Who Found $1 Million by Mark Bowden. Who hasn’t dreamt of finding a big bag of money? It couldn’t have happened to a more clueless person. Joey Coyle, to be exact.
Flawless: Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History by Scott Andrew Selby. The theft from Antwerp that still raises many questions.
Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde by Jeff Guinn. The truth is not that romantic.
The Great Pearl Heist: London’s Greatest Thief and Scotland Yard’s Hunt for the World’s Most Valuable Necklace by Molly Caldwell Crosby. Pearls, more valuable than the Hope Diamond, are stolen by thieves in Edwardian London.
The Great Train Robbery by Michael Crichton. My favorite Crichton book. Stealing gold from a running train! Watch the movie too that stars the great Sean Connery.
Heist: The Oddball Crew Behind the $17 Million Loomis Fargo Theft by Jeff Diamant. How hard is it to steal 17 million dollars? As far as these thieves were concerned, not much. Getting away with it was another thing altogether. The movie was pretty average, I think.
Into the Blast: The True Story of DB Cooper by Skipp Porteous, Robert Blevins. Is Tommy Wiseau DB Cooper? If only that was true. Read the book but don’t expect any clear-cut answers (I think most people would agree that the clumsy bastard died after he jumped from the plane).
A Pickpocket’s Tale: The Underworld of Nineteenth-Century New York by Timothy J. Gilfoyle. True story of George Appo, a pickpocket living in nineteenth-century New York.
Sex on the Moon: The Amazing Story Behind the Most Audacious Heist in History by Ben Mezrich. A guy steals moon rocks from NASA and then had sex on them with his girlfriend (how the hell is that comfortable?)
The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel. The last hermit was not a hermit in true sense. He didn’t rely on land to feed himself. He stole from the nearby community. Before someone says I have spoiled the book for them, it is revealed in the first chapter that he is a thief.
WHITE COLLAR CRIMES.
Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou. The Steve Jobs impersonator, Elizabeth Holmes, CEO of Theranos, and her old boyfriend, Sunny, are some of the most vile people that I have come across while reading about corporate crime. This is one of the best books that I have read this year.
Den of Thieves by James B. Stewart. This is probably the most famous book written about those Wall Street scoundrels.
Empire of Deception: The Incredible Story of a Master Swindler Who Seduced a City and Captivated the Nation by Dean Jobb. The story of Leo Koretz, who created one of the longest running Ponzi schemes in the 1920s Chicago.
The Informant by Kurt Eichenwald. Mark Whitacre becomes an FBI informant against his own corporation. But as time goes by, the FBI starts to realize that Mark is not as truthful as he seems to be, and he has his own agenda (they made a movie with Matt Damon).
Octopus: Sam Israel, the Secret Market, and Wall Street’s Wildest Con by Guy Lawson. Sam Israel’s hedge fund was making heavy losses. So naturally, he fabricated fake returns to fool the investors. Then he heard about a secret market from where he could convert his millions into billions. That’s how he lost the last 150 million dollars of his invertors’ money.
Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man’s Fight for Justice by Bill Browder. Only thing you are going to learn from this book is don’t do business in Russia.
The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron by Bethany McLean, Peter Elkind. Bethany McLean asked one simple question in her article when everyone else was going gaga over Enron. “What does Enron actually do?” Nobody knew. Even Enron couldn’t give a specific answer. They were not just committing accounting fraud; they were looting ordinary people by creating fake shortage of electricity and driving the prices high. The documentary is worth watching too.
Stung: The Incredible Obsession of Brian Molony by Gary Stephen Ross. The guy Molony debited huge amounts of money from the bank he worked at to feed his gambling addiction. Oh, and he took the money in other people’s name who held huge accounts there. This is one of the best true-crime books that I have ever read.
Three Cups of Deceit: How Greg Mortenson, Humanitarian Hero, Lost His Way by Jon Krakauer. You know the man who builds schools in remote regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan? Great guy, right? Krakauer doesn’t think so. And he’ll tell you why in this short book.
The Wizard of Lies: Bernie Madoff and the Death of Trust by Diana B. Henriques. 65 billion dollars. That’s the amount that Madoff swindled from people through decades of fraud. I think I can buy a small island country with this much money. The idiot is in jail though. I don’t know, maybe after a couple of billion, skip to a country with no extradition treaty and live the rest of your life without the fear of being getting caught? But then, these types of people don’t know when to stop.
American Roulette: How I Turned the Odds Upside Down --- My Wild Twenty-Five-Year Ride Ripping Off World’s Casinos by Richard Marcus. The guy ripped-off casinos all over the world by stealing gaming chips while maintaining an illusion of a highroller to lend his eventual take required legitimacy.
Breaking the Rock: The Great Escape from Alcatraz by Jolene Babyak. Written by the daughter of a guard at Alcatraz, this book tells the story of the infamous escape from the prison island. Don’t forget to watch the classic movie too.
Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six MIT Students Who Took Vegas for Millions by Ben Mezrich. The movie 21 was based on this book. But if you want to know the real story, without the whitewashing, you have no choice but to read this book.
Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy by Kevin Bales. Kevin Bales estimates that there are 27 million people worldwide who live as slaves, right now. And yes, slavery still exists in United States of America in case you were wondering. This is a depressing book.
Fish: A Memoir of a Boy in a Man’s Prison by T. J. Parsell. Rape in prison is absolutely overlooked almost everywhere. Read this book if you can endure reading about helplessness page after page.
Hotel K: The Shocking Inside Story of Bali’s Most Notorious Jail by Kathryn Bonella. Prison systems in developing world differ from the developed one in one regard that the guards and officials there are more corrupt and hence are likely to look the other way when something bad is going down amongst the inmates. Kerobokan Jail in Bali is one of the worst among those.
The Hot House: Life Inside Leavenworth Prison by Pete Earley. The author interviewed inmates from Leavenworth Prison for two years. The book is the result of that labor.
The Laundrymen: Inside the World’s Third Largest Business by Jeffrey Robinson. I have a perfect idea to launder money. Laser Tag! Robinson looks at the third largest business in the world. The book was published a while ago, but still hasn’t lost most of its relevancy.
Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer. Jon releases the Krakauer on one of the most relevant subjects of today. Rapes in colleges. These institutes would do anything to sweep things under the rug to maintain the illusion of clean image in the public eye.
Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing by Ted Conover. The author worked as a prison guard for a year at one of the most notorious prisons of the United States. This book is about his experience.
Before writing here, I’ve read many debates over the factions in New Vegas. Although I’ve seen many good points, I also feel that Mr. Robert Edwin House is often grossly misunderstood – both by his supporters AND by his detractors. To assist, I’ve endeavoured to read up on all dialogue, letters and terminal entries concerning House, and from that write out a summarized biography with occasional insights into the man’s character. What you’ll read is by no means exhaustive (and I always enjoy new perspectives from others), but it IS going to be a fair bit of reading. I mean, seriously, this is the abridged biography of a 200+ year old man, not some low-effort meme post.
Grab yourself some biscuits and make some nice hot tea. Sit back, relax and enjoy at your own pace.
DISCLAIMER: A flaw of my writing style, especially when using this many words, is that I can appear all over the place at times. I'm trying to improve that. Feedback is appreciated, and I love answering questions should you have any. Don't panic if I don't respond quickly though, IRL is kinda hectic right now.
Anyways, where shall we begin? Oh, right.
To understand House, we must examine the context he inhabited Pre-War. 1) Family Matters “Born June 25th, 2020, House was orphaned at an early age when his parents died in a freak accident (auto gyro, lightning). Though cheated of his inheritance, House attended the prestigious Institute in Massachusetts and founded RobCo Industries on his 22nd birthday. Within five years, it was one of the most profitable corporations on Earth.”
- Mr. House’s obituary (“A Tragedy Has Befallen All Mankind”)
I have tried to find other texts to support the story Robert House gives of his early life (since we all know his obituary has more than a little embellishment in it), but haven’t found much, other than the eerie terminal logs in the H&H Tools Factory. The logs in general paint an objective picture of his half-brother Anthony House as a deranged man, ending with this noteworthy passage: “It's worse than I feared. Henderson sent a 10-point memo outlining the benefits of mechanization and automation. As if I wouldn't know he's been plotting with my half-brother the entire time! I knew he was a weasel-dick traitor from the moment I laid eyes on him. Only one thing to do. One thing, and the company - my father's LEGACY - is safe forever. Cindy-Lou will bring him to me, and then I'll make an example. The Bastard will learn why you don't cross the House.”
- Anthony House, regarding Robert House.
and “Jenny, What the hell is up with these guys? They've been coming after our market share like they've got something to prove. No, strike that, this feels personal. Did Mr. H. run over RobCo's dog or something? Alan”
With the above in mind, it is believable that Anthony House had cheated Robert House out of his inheritance, with the former viewing the latter as “The Bastard” (due to Robert being the younger half-brother) and thus undeserving of any part of the House family legacy. We can thus take the QUOTED part of House’s obituary above more or less at face value. 2) The end is nigh!
Now, years after raising a famous company from almost nothing, Mr. House deduced the occurrence of the Great War. By his own account, he first deduced this in 2065 – at this point in time, according to the Fallout Bible and Van Buren, Vault-Tech’s “Project Safehouse” had been in motion for over 11 years with the apparent goal being to shelter humanity in the event of a large-scale nuclear or bio-weapon holocaust. Europe and the Middle East were mutually ruined due to extended conflict and lack of resources. Heritage sites like the Grand Canyon were open to be mined. And the UN may-or-may-not-have been disbanded. Going by the GNN report in Fallout 2 the UN still had at least another (fairly ineffectual) 9 years left counting down from 2065. According to the Fallout Bible, it was already long dead. Either way, the world was in bad shape.
It’d be easy for us, at this point, to turn to Mr. House’s prediction and say something along the lines of “No kidding”. It seems obvious, from where we stand now in the Pre-War Fallout world, that there would be a nuclear Holocaust. And indeed, it was obvious. Even the Mormons were buying spots in Project Safehouse, if we are to believe Van Buren in that particular instance. What made House unique in his deduction, however, was knowing not only that the Atomic Holocaust WOULD happen no matter what (Vault-Tech’s plans were based more around general contingencies for any large-scale apocalypse), but he also knew precisely WHEN it would happen – the War only starting a day or so sooner than he expected.
As an aside, in light of the shambles the Pre-War world was in, one must wonder just how much it actually meant to be “one of the most profitable corporations on Earth”. Earth, at that point, was almost a wasteland already and House still built and sustained a thriving business. But I digress; we’re not yet worrying about how House could rebuild a wasteland. What we need to look at now is this – what did House do with his uniquely precise knowledge of the impending Apocalypse? “I knew I couldn't ‘save the world,’ nor did I care to. But I could save Vegas, and in the process, perhaps, save mankind.”
And really, it is no wonder House did not care to save the world – there was barely anything left to save. The UN – an international force for peace – had either died or was rapidly weakening. The U.S. began setting its sights on annexing Canada. Entire forests were felled, Once-ler style, just as countries were felled to acquire them. Sure, people could build power armour, but only because the US military could no longer afford to fuel their tanks for sufficient mobility, and their “Mechanized Cavalry” needed something to take into battle. Even electricity is rationed after the fusion reactor of New York City almost went supercritical under the strain of providing for a 17 million+ strong population (Fallout Bible). And, despite all their troubles, America was still one of the best off countries in the world at this point (which makes you wonder how much worse it was in the others).
But whilst America carried on, Lonesome Road and Old World Blues show us that its values had changed, almost as if in a twisted homage to Heath Ledger’s Joker - “You see, their morals, their code, it's a bad joke. Dropped at the first sign of trouble. They're only as good as the world allows them to be. I'll show you. When the chips are down, these... these civilized people, they'll eat each other. See, I'm not a monster. I'm just ahead of the curve."
We see this theme echoed in the NCR and even the Followers of the Apocalypse, but we’ll get to that later.
The Pre-War world wasn’t some ideal Utopia that was only ruined by the tragedy of the bomb. It was already a desperate place, already a wasteland in many ways. There simply wasn’t enough left on Earth to provide for everyone (RIP Charlie Chaplin). And that’s why House could never hope to save everyone, let alone the planet they lived on. Anything he tried on that scale would be “too little, too late”. 3) Who Wants to Live Forever Anyways?
So…why did House choose to save Vegas?
Some say he did so in order to save himself. But if he truly wished to save himself, he could have been like Senator Todd Peterson, and built himself a private bunker within which to live out his days with whatever loved ones he may have had. Even if he wouldn’t be immortal, it’d still be a MUCH more comfortable way to spend his days. When it comes to the life he eventually chose, the Official Game Guide has this to say about House: “He is emaciated to the point of being skeletal, bones visible under pale, translucent skin crisscrossed by faint blue blood vessels. House's command helmet is not detachable - we don't want to imply that the player could put it on and take his place. The helmet might be bolted right into his skull, like a "halo" used to stabilize severe neck injuries. Or it might not be a helmet at all, the top of Mr. House's skull having been removed and fitted with transistors and vacuum tubes.”
No, House did not endeavour to save himself. If anything, he condemned himself to a special kind of Hell. He was a man with the means to luxury, and yet sealed himself off from it, and almost all human experience the average man might take for granted (the smell of a flower, the touch of a woman, the feeling of a cool breeze on a Summer day)…forever. He mentions his longevity came with a cost. He was not kidding. If anything, he was understating.
Others instead compare House to Andrew Ryan, and say that he saved Vegas only so he could be the head amongst the wealthy and the elite. I must disagree here too – the tribals he later babysits were never elite in their own right by Pre-War standards before House’s intervention. Aside from being a superficial reference to Howard Hughes, House has very little in common with Ryan. Billions of US Dollars were at House’s disposal. If he really wished to be a leading figure amongst the elite, he would’ve built the Fallout equivalent of Rapture in the middle of the ocean ages ago. Or he would’ve built his own “Sierra Madre” to rival Sinclair. Or he would’ve ingratiated himself with the Enclave (who he did contract work for) or the Institute (where he studied), who could’ve used a man like him to lead their projects.
He did none of those things. He chose to save Vegas. Young, old, rich, poor, honest and crooked alike. And he chose to become immortal, despite the steep personal costs.
But why? 4) Long Term Investments “Vegas is more than a city. It is the remedy to Mankind’s…derailment.”
- Mr. House “I grew up not far from here, and though I traveled the old world extensively, I never found another place like it.”
- Mr. House Aside from being House’s birthplace, Vegas -in the Fallout Universe - was home to not only the (in)famous casinos, but also to many factories dedicated to manufacturing drinks, robots, tools and rockets. Nearby there is an air-force base and –perhaps most importantly- Hoover Dam and Helios One. In a world fated to end over a lack of resources, ensuring access to two of the most basic and important renewable resources in the aftermath would go a long way to help ensure humanity at least doesn’t end entirely.
And all of these resources would fall within range of his Securitron Network – at least once the Mk II upgrade arrives.
If we are to believe that Mr. House wished to establish colonies on new worlds as a solution to Earth’s resource problem regardless of whether the War happens first or not (and the Official Game Guide confirms House is interested in technological progress, at the very least), then it makes sense that House would choose Vegas – not because it is particularly important in itself (compared to other possible cities), but because it is the central location from which he could gain control of resources vital to the space program –renewable energy, REPCONN HQ, rocket test sites and seemingly limitless clean water for his employees. Still, as we find out later, House doesn’t let Vegas itself go to waste by any means…
The site chosen, House toiled over his defenses. He built a nuclear reactor under his casino with enough energy to power the Mojave. He built a life-support system to ensure his survival into the post-apocalypse, no matter the cost. He built Securitrons to protect his interests in the aftermath, and then built a factory/ storage facility for them under Fortification Hill – a mere stone’s throw from Hoover Dam - so that his army might never run out. Meanwhile, the brilliant Big MT scientist who would become Dr. 0 silently fumed in envy over House’s superior abilities in robotics.
Some may doubt that the Fort’s bunker was a factory. After all, House just calls it a “barracks”, which implies storage, right? Well, consider some barracks have recruitment offices – and in RTS style games, they’re often functionally the same building. Now what would the Securitron equivalent of a “recruitment office” be? Powering up the Fort Bunker causes distinct, repetitive hydraulic sounds, as if there were an assembly line moving. Does that sound like mere storage to you? No. You think he’d build an army with no way to replenish it? “I'm surprised you can still underestimate me after everything you've seen.” 5) For Want of a Nail
But now, ironically after the above quote, we encounter House’s greatest failure. You see, House had everything set up, but it was still in BETA (insert Fallout76 Joke here). He commissioned the “Platinum Chip” to contain all the patches, software upgrades and override commands he could need for the foreseeable future. It was specially shaped so it could only be used on hardware he specified – no other company could hope to steal it or otherwise use it for their own purposes. The Chip was finished and scheduled to arrive a day before the predicted date of the war.
And then the War arrived a day early.
77 Warheads targeted Vegas. Mr. House, irrevocably entombed within his Life Chambers, readied Vegas’ defenses…
“I was in Mexico City when the bombs dropped. Even from there, we could see House's defensive rockets shooting down the incoming missiles.” -Raul Tejeda
And what House couldn’t shoot down, he hacked, deactivating warheads mid-air so they could never reach Vegas. But, because the Platinum Chip hadn’t arrived in time, the software remained a BETA - and would for another 204 years. Nine warheads managed to impact the Mojave.
*“When blaring civil defense sirens heralded mankind's doom on October 23rd, 2077, the citizens of Las Vegas bore witness to an astonishing spectacle. Huge laser cannons unfurled from secret housings in the roof of the Lucky 38 casino and Hoover Dam's intake towers and began spitting blasts of green fire into the sky, destroying warhead after warhead and sparing Las Vegas's urban center and the dam from direct hits. Citizens filled the streets and cheered. And then they died horribly from the lethal fallout that blew in from the dozens of warheads that detonated around Las Vegas.
Though Mr. House's missile defense grid performed admirably, the Great War was in actuality the day of his greatest setback.”*
- Fallout: New Vegas Official Game Guide
House saved no-one that day. You were either in a Vault, or you were House, or you were dead.
Software bugs, compounded by the EMP from nuclear fallout, caused the defense action House put forward to result in multiple system crashes, forcing him to shut down his fully automated reactor before it melted down from faulty programming. Now without Hoover Dam (EMP) or his reactor, House’s life support relied on a very limited supply of emergency power. It was all he could do to restore his OS to an even less advanced -but more stable- build before passing out from shock. 6) Too Stubborn to Die
Now, the Courier is famous for rising from the grave to finish their quest - but House did it first. 61 years after the bombs dropped, House woke up. At this time, the Master (of Super Mutant army fame) was active and alive. Vault 15 – from which Shady Sands was built – hadn’t even opened yet. The majority of House’s Securitrons are offline, with only a handful of downgraded ones stationed in his casino. Raiders plagued the Wastes. And House’s own limited power supplies dwindled ever lower.
Now, he lived a full life. Raul notes how House was something of a superstar who dated all the beautiful women and made billions before the War, reaching the ripe age of 57 before the bombs fell. After losing almost everything in his gamble to try save Vegas, it’d be tempting for anyone in House’s position to give up, to shut down again and just…die. Instead… “Immediately he began using his Securitron robots to search out human settlements…”
From this point onwards (until his determinant acquisition of the Dam) House is forced to make choices most of us don’t even have to consider. Everyone has to worry about their budget for the month. Some of us have to worry about their budget for the year…or a company’s or even country’s budget for a similar period - maybe 5 or 10 years, in some cases. House has chosen to worry about the World’s “budget” (fiscal or otherwise) over the course of…forever, because no one else alive is as acutely aware of the global resource shortage as House, who lived through multiple wars caused by it, culminating in that big famous one that almost ended the world. “For years, I played a miser with my emergency power supply. I began to run out of reserves around the time I woke the first batch of Securitrons”.
Of course, House had his own budgets to worry about. It was not long after sending out his forces to find other humans that his power supply began to dip dangerously low. Realizing the costs of waking up his robots after the first batch forced House to play very carefully – after all, he couldn’t enact his plans to revitalize the global economy if he died now, could he? He sent his mechanical agents out, quietly hiring prospectors to find his beloved Chip – with no personnel or infrastructure to reproduce it, he had to find it…before he shut off forever.
Beyond that, he ran silently, keeping his “electrical bill” as low as possible, hoping the Chip would find him in time. As it turns out, the NCR got to him first.
If you ever wondered why House did not try to personally civilize Vegas, introduce sustainable agriculture and grant free schooling before NCR showed up, it’s because doing those things would require him to take a very active role in life outside the Lucky 38, and doing that, with his power reserves as they were, would have been fatal for him (to say nothing of the mutants, raiders, etc). This is the weakest he has ever been since his half-brother swindled him.
But I digress. The NCR is on the horizon…as was the Legion. 7) I Called Dibs 2 Centuries Ago
Suddenly, things moved very quickly. For years after the Wastes were repopulated, (what passed for) peace and order in Nevada was maintained by the vigilante Desert Rangers, who allowed themselves to be absorbed into the NCR in 2271, in exchange for help against Caesar. A year later, the Mojave Outpost as we see it –under NCR- came to be, the Mojave south of the Vegas area having been pacified earlier under the leadership of then-General Kimball. Then, Kimball achieving Presidency, Hoover Dam fell under their grip.
In the span of 2274 House engaged his final power reserves in a last-ditch effort to secure his future (and, by proxy and from his perspective, the future of Mankind). Beatrix Russel and the King describe Pre-House Vegas as a place where everyone got by, but the truth is less-than-spotless; according to the FNVOGG, tribes fought amongst the ruins – Slither Kin, Boot Riders, Great Khans, and many other smaller or more mysterious groups. Using Securitrons as his intermediaries, Mr. House enlisted the help of all who were both willing and capable of aiding him, playing on their self-interest and need to survive by promising (and delivering) them resources and power. But whilst you can teach tribals to fight your enemies and socialize with your allies, you can’t turn them into a competent team of technical specialists – not in the time available. And he’d need educated men and women to truly restore the glamour of his New Vegas.
And that’s where Vault 21 came in. After uncooperative tribes like the Great Khans were pushed off the areas around the Strip, House made an offer to this community, who had previously lived in peace as chaos raged above them. The offer was simple: help rebuild Vegas…or not. Most chose the second option, but a small group of Vault residents decided to gain support on House’s behalf, eventually achieving a consensus: they would work for House, and opened their doors to him. They soon found themselves aiding House’s tribals in building a massive wall sheltering both the Strip and Freeside from the rest of Vegas. Vault 21’s lower levels were salvaged of useful technology to aid in construction…and then (infamously) filled with concrete to ensure future, less innocent visitors to the Vault couldn’t use it to breach the Lucky 38’s sub-levels or Vegas’ defenses. At the request of its more agoraphobic residents, House spared Vault 21’s top levels, transforming it into a hotel for them to run. With the Vegas Strip being far larger – more casinos, more housing, more everything – in lore, art and cutscenes compared to in-game, it is plausible to believe the displaced Vault Dwellers were rehoused on the Strip itself; as relatively well educated individuals, they’d be invaluable in House’s endeavours – of the three we met, we know one became House’s top sign artist, one became a hotel manager and one voluntarily left Vegas to be a travelling doctor before retiring in Goodsprings (we know because he eventually returned to marry his sweetheart, who still lived not far from the Vault she came from).
Whilst not yet open for business by any means, House had managed to turn a ruin plagued with tribal conflicts into a citadel presided over by Three Families. The NCR arrived in force, expecting just another wasted city picked over by warring raiders…and instead found a fortress in the wastes…and surprisingly, one that not only wasn’t hostile to them, but outright welcomed them…providing certain concessions were made…
With the threat of the Legion just on the horizon, NCR were faced with an offer they could not refuse – they would be allowed to set up an embassy and police force on the Strip, as well as a military base in Outer Vegas so long as they provided 5% of the Dam’s power output to Vegas (which they would need to do to make use of their embassy and base anyways) and allow their citizens and soldiers on leave to enjoy House’s amenities at their own discretion. Sounds pretty reasonable, doesn’t it? NCR agreed to the terms, implicitly legitimizing the sovereignty of New Vegas under House. Power flowed to the Strip and House, who had to suffer multiple power outages, whose salves and meds almost curdled because of this, whose life was literally tied to that of his battery…could finally breathe easy, now having more (electrical) power than he knew what to do with. 8) But why didn’t House…?
You may be asking “Why didn’t House instead provide his resources to the NCR, allowing them to push the tribals out of Vegas and restore it that way, possibly becoming a prominent citizen in the process?”
House’s detractors often refer to his compulsive need for control, and control is precisely
why House would rather recruit tribals to work for him than try to merge with something larger. But why does House want that control?
I’d argue it isn’t due to a compulsive need for it – his leadership is extremely hands-off. To understand why House wants to remain in control, rather than admit subservience to a larger civilization, we need to look back to Pre-War America and that Joker quote we put down earlier.
NCR is, in many ways, similar to Pre-War US. It was founded on lofty ideals. And when resources became scarce? They abandoned their ideals and annexed whatever and whoever they wanted to get more resources until the globe was almost depleted and -BOOM! So far, NCR is just at the “annexing” stage (not that they have nukes anyways), but the globe is about as depleted as it was 200 years ago.
Chief Hanlon speaks of the overconsumption and mismanagement of water in their territories, Doctor Hildern predicts a famine after a decade of population growth. Supporting this, the intro-cutscene for the game outright states NCR’s expansion is influenced by a lack of resources for their growing populace. NCR’s current population as a nation…around 700 000. Compare that to Johannesburg’s (which is just one city) population of 900 000+. Compare that to the 39 million+ strong population of real life California today. And NCR is the largest unified population on the continent. And they’re running out of resources already. By modern IRL standards, the population that Earth (or at least, America) can sustain in the Post-War Fallout universe is absolutely tiny
. Even the possible savior we find within Big MT’s matter replicators is in question, with the substantially wealthy Sinclair being driven almost into debt just to fund the creation a few according to the terminal in the Y-0 Lab, and very few having been found outside the Sierra Madre despite Dean’s claims. Of course, perhaps that could change with time and resources directed towards further development, but until then… (As it stands, Pre-War US couldn’t/ didn’t make them economically viable to produce before the Great War started). If even the Followers of the Apocalypse are willing to commit murder over water at this juncture (White Wash), imagine how things would be later down the line. There aren’t infinite resources in the Fallout world – just too few people to deplete what is left…yet.
No one is as painfully aware of the resource shortage as House. Maybe others of his intellect will rise up in the NCR, but like him in Pre-War US, they won’t detect the issue until it’s too late to properly solve it. Not wanting to gamble on the multi-headed NCR following his advice forever, he instead puts on an appearance of having power, ensuring full control over his enterprises. This is why House doesn’t bid for NCR citizenship.
He’s seen what happens to Democracies when the going gets truly desperate – how they corrupt into oligarchies blinded by greed or desperation. Rather than watch that happen again, he chooses to become an autocrat in a long-term venture for the good of Mankind – after all (as we’ve stated before), he has little reason to continue living for himself. 9) The Nature of the Strip “A fool and his money are soon parted.”
– Proverbs, 21:20, King James Bible
Strip away the gambling amenities, and what is left? A luxury resort, a fine-dining restaurant, an art gallery, a theatre, bars, hotels, a brothel and a gentleman’s club.
For want of a nail, House cannot access the powerful amenities around Vegas, but he’s made the best of the city itself. Early on, access between the Strip and Freeside was unrestricted (according to the FNVOGG) – Securitrons thoroughly patrolled both areas and just about everybody there was living relatively well.
For those of you familiar with casinos, you know they pull every trick in the book – the smiling staff, the bright lights, the music, and the colours – in order to subtly entice you to make a wager. For those who’ve only visited casinos to partake in their collection of arcades, restaurants, cinemas or theatres, you know all those psychological prompts to “pay to watch people flip paper squares”, as Follows-Chalk likes to say, are entirely ignorable.
For a man like House, the Strip exists to collect money (a.k.a. the power to requisition resources) from those who do not know how to spend it and redistribute it into the hands of those working towards his ends (maintenance aside, recovering his Chip – which is still invaluable despite the power from Hoover Dam - is becoming a tad expensive, after all). It also exists as a place of culture and relaxation for more responsible visitors. For many others, however, the Strip has become a beacon of hope.
Enthusiastic entertainers finally had a place to permanently employ their gifts. Those who were unfortunate in life but otherwise hard-working made livings as Street Vendors on the Strip, earning far more than they could anywhere else even after taking House’s Franchisee taxes into account. And formerly inter-warring tribals were finally living in peace, operating lavish casinos semi-independently in return for making and enforcing certain agreements with House (notably, cannibalism carries the death penalty). 10) The Separation from Freeside
Around two years BEFORE the game started, or 2 years AFTER the First Battle of Hoover Dam, House began to wall Freeside off from the Strip. Whether it was due to being overwhelmed by too many people trying to spend money they didn’t actually have, or due to a security issue, House decided to pull his Securitron forces and loyal employees off of Freeside to concentrate on the Strip, with admittance becoming more exclusive. You either:
a) possessed a passport indicating you were trusted to visit the Strip
b) had enough money on you to prove you were a tourist who could afford to enjoy the Strip’s services (there is no entry tax or fee – just a credit check to ensure you aren’t going to just indebt yourself within 5 seconds of visiting)
c) have to stay in Freeside or go home
d) were an NCR soldier or VIP on leave
e) tried to break past a cordon of armed robots whilst ignoring their instructions to stop and turn around, earning yourself a Darwin Award (of course, NCR troops will also kill you if you try to use “their” Monorail under similar circumstances, only they won’t wait for you to break past
But despite the new checkpoint, a woman from North Vegas – who previously could barely afford to eat – found good, steady work on the Strip as a salesperson. Street performers like the Lonesome Drifter or Billy Knight were admitted in without a peep. Although it’s true that the Strip’s services cater to the rich, the people it truly looks after are the hard working and enthusiastic (Billy Knight isn’t an exceptional comedian, but he clearly loves his work and that was clearly enough). Remember that no one local to Vegas was rich before House came back –since his resurrection he has been an employer of the willing and the able, and that hasn’t changed. Vegas puts on a big show for wealthy consumers, but it’s people like Billy Knight or the woman from North Vegas who come out ahead.
But, of course, not everyone liked the idea of working for House. Perhaps, more tragically, they decided too late to find employment as all staff slots were filled. Regardless, Freeside, with most of its more capable now residing on the Strip, and the Securitons no longer protecting it, degenerated back into lawlessness and became a hive of scum and villainy. It is from these conditions that a man calling himself the King rallied various dispossessed former tribals of all colours into a new tribe of his own. But we’ll return to him later…
We never find out for certain why House shut out Freeside. The Locals will blame the droves of NCR squatters around Vegas (for just about everything), but we’ll likely never know for certain beyond plausible speculations.
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