FORTUNE — Americans have a soft spot for con artists — those greedy hucksters whose dreams never come true. So writes
The New Yorker
‘s James Surowiecki in an essay that starts with two Oscar-nominated movies — American Hustle and The Wolf of Wall Street — and ends with Steve Jobs.
There’s a thin line, he argues, between con men and entrepreneurs. Both represent virtues Americans aspire to: “They don’t have to kowtow to a boss—no small thing in a country in which people have always longed to strike out on their own. They succeed or fail based on their wits. They exemplify, in short, the complicated nature of American capitalism.”
Which brings Surowiecki — by way of William (the original “confidence man”) Thompson, Leland (Central Pacific Railroad) Stanford, Jay Gould, Charles Ponzi and Bernie Madoff — to Apple’s (AAPL) co-founder and late CEO. Surowiecki’s conclusion:
A bit of a stretch. But not that big.
LINK: Do the Hustle.