In The Man in the Rockefeller Suit Mark Seal attempts to trace the rise and fall of Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, aka Clark Rockefeller, aka Chip Smith, aka Christopher Chichester, aka Christopher Crowe, aka a bunch of other aliases. He was the consummate pretender who successfully fooled and manipulated people into giving him things and doing his bidding for thirty or so years. Even his wife of twelve years did not realize her husband wasn’t who he said he was until she tried to divorce him and her lawyers were unable to verify Clark's identify.
Seal’s book was a quick and fascinating read. If left me wondering how a person could perpetrate such an elaborate ruse for so long and the toll it takes on a person’s psyche. If a person is constantly pretending to be something and someone else at some point does there cease to be a distinction between one's real identity and the character? I wanted to get inside of Gerhartsreiter’s head and understand how and why Gerhartsreiter did what he did, and how he could have maintained such an elaborate charade for so long. Seal’s book hints at this but didn’t quite delve as deep as I wanted. This isn’t a criticism; I don’t think Seal could have found out much more than he did. From what I understand Gerhartsreiter continues to stay in character such that we will probably never know the entire story about Gerhartsreiter.