Don't Call Me a Crook!: A Scotsman's Tale of World Travel, Whisky, and Crime by Bob Moore
Edited by Pat Spry
Afterword by James Kelman
Introduction and Annotations by Nicholas Towasser
Finished: June 8, 2009
First Published: 1935 (1st reprint May 1, 2009)
Genre: Non Fiction, Memoir, Autobiography
It is a pity there are getting to be so many places that I can never go back to, but all the same, I do not think it is much fun a man being respectable all his life.
Reason for Reading: The 1920s and '30s are my particular favourite period to read first hand accounts from and when I heard about this book, the title coupled with the time period made it impossible for me to pass up. I received a review copy from Lisa @ Online Publicist.
Comments: Really where does one begin! Bob Moore is a thief, a racist, a womanizer, an alcoholic and worse. He is certainly not a likable fellow, so why read a book about him? Well, this is a very unique slice of social history that you are doubtful to get anywhere else. Place yourself in the 1920s through the '30s and you are shown life as it was from the point of view of a chief engineer as he worked on ships and traveled round the world describing what life as he knows it. Sure you can read about this time period from other sources: literary men, educated people, people from higher classes of life but what about the poor, penniless, regular Joe, how did he see life? While Bob may not have been a regular Joe he was poor and penniless most of the time as he spent his money as soon as he got any on whisky and women.
Bob spends his time conning women out of their money, diamonds, etc. sometimes even acting as a 'gigolo' to an older woman for these purposes. He is an incredibly capable chief engineer and rarely unable to find work wherever he is in the world but anytime not spent working will find him with a bottle of whisky or, if not available, then, the local spirits will do him just as well. He swears he is not a crook, he does not steal he only "swipes" from those who can afford it and he does occasionally seem to have a few mores than some around him, but that's not exactly saying much. As he travels the world, he seems to have a 'nickname' for every race on the planet from 'limeys' on down to all the various racist slurs including using the "n" word twice. He is certainly a product of his time and I wouldn't say his slurs are done in meanness but more in the ignorance of his generation.
Bob also does have some humorous adventures along the way and the book certainly makes for interesting reading. It is hard to say whether it is all entirely believable. I felt as if there was some over exaggeration being employed on his exploits but it didn't come across as untruthful. There is a glimmer of a man behind the facade of the adventurer but unfortunately he never comes across as someone you can like, his deeds and attitudes are just too amoral. However, I enjoyed reading the book. As I stated previously, to me this is more a social history than just the story of one man. It is very informative to see the early 20th century world through the eyes of such a man as Bob Moore. This is the type of history that intrigues me and I found the book well worth the read even though I never could like the man.