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This work documents the making of the most peculiar criminal underworld. Not centred on the traditional activities of organized crime - drug dealing, gambling, prostitution, loan-sharking, protection, or bookmaking - this improbable underworld has been built from the raw material of faked personal injuries. Drawing on a wide variety of sources, the text takes readers back to the late 19th century, when the earliest slip-and-fall artists like ""Banana"" Anna first feigned injuries for money by slipping on banana-skins on steam trains throughout the Midwest. Readers then encounter the ""ambulance chasers"" and ""shysters"" of old New York who pioneered the personal injury trade; the accident racketeers of the 1920s; the excesses of self-mutilation for profit during the Depression; and the ""whiplash"" industry of the 1960s and 1970s.;Through original interviews and research, the book also reports on contemporary gangs whose members travel the streets of cities around the country staging car accidents for insurance money and the doctors and lawyers who call the shots from behind the scenes. In this engaging chronicle, the author tells an original story about a culture in which greed, desperation, and free-market incentives in the legal system could transform accidents and injuries from random instances of bad luck into the solid foundations of a vast secret economy.