Whether we want to admit it or not, cheating is an inescapable part of the human condition. Some of us are more comfortable than others acknowledging this fact, but it's still a fact, plain and simple.
There's no shortage of people who like to claim that they lead lives above reproach. You know the type: God fearing, seemingly honest, quick to tell others when they're straying off the path, certainly not likely to identify themselves as cheaters. But they are. We all are. Everyone is guilty of telling little white lies or devising secret ways to get ahead when the right moment arises. It doesn't matter if you're fibbing a little so that your wall-eyed colleague doesn't feel bad ("No, really, no one can tell"), or if you stole a recipe to win the county bake-off just once. Even if you're usually on the up-and-up, those little lapses land you squarely in cheater country. Despite our best efforts, we're all cheaters in our own ways.
Still think you're not a creepy little cheater? Are you shaking your head as you read this and saying "Oh, no, I'd never do that!" Think again. Remember when you got your college roommate to write that homework assignment for you? How about when you weren't really cheating on your significant other because you were "on a break"? That's right, folks, you were cheating. And don't even get started trying to justify that time you claimed your dog as a dependent on your tax return. That was cheating too. Getting away with it, whatever "it" may be, is cheating.
Even though you're cheating a little bit every day, chances are you could be doing it better. Why settle for a minor promotion when you could have the corner office? Why bother taking the loose change out of your friend's couch when you could be making the big bucks forging checks? If your answer is that you just don't know how, look no further. This is the book for you.
In the pages of this little tome, you'll find a guide to grifting, a sourcebook of sophistry, and a bible of bunco. Everything the modern mountebank needs to know to pull off the most essential cheats can be found in these pages. Every cheat has been numbered for your easy reference and reading pleasure. You will, however, notice that they are in no easily discernible order. This is much like life, as the ways in which we cheat and the reasons we decide to do so don't follow any particular patterns either. As you leaf through this book, let the myriad ways in which you can get one over on the other guy surprise and entertain you as you stumble on them, just as you will stumble on opportunities to exercise your new shady talents after reading this book. You'll also find that the information in each chapter has been neatly laid out in an easy step-by-step format so you can be up and running in no time with your new and improved life of chicanery. Feel free to mix and match your cheats at will. A life without artful cheating isn't a life worth living.
If the above statement fills you with horror, and you're truly one of the few people left on earth who shun sharp practice, don't despair. You'll be glad to know that every cheat in this book includes a section on protecting yourself from that particular type of flimflammery. Read carefully, lest you leave yourself open to the wily ways of your fellow readers.
Now that you're fully briefed on what this guide to skulduggery has in store for you, dearest con artists and marks alike, read on. And don't forget to keep looking over your shoulder. There's always someone a little sharper and a little cagier right behind you.
– From the introduction to THE ART OF CHEATING