Empire of Deception

Empire of Deception

The Incredible Story of A Master Swindler Who Seduced A City and Captivated the Nation

eBook - 2015
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"A brilliantly researched tale of greed, ambition, and our desperate need to believe in magic, it's history that captures America as it really was--and always will be. A great read." --Douglas Perry, author of Eliot Ness It was a time of unregulated madness. And nowhere was it madder than in Chicago at the dawn of the Roaring Twenties. As Model Ts rumbled down Michigan Avenue, gang war shootings announced Al Capone's rise to underworld domination. Bedecked partygoers thronged to the Drake Hotel's opulent banquet rooms, corrupt politicians held court in thriving speakeasies, and the frenzy of stock market gambling was rampant. Enter a slick, smooth-talking, charismatic lawyer named Leo Koretz, who enticed hundreds of people (who should have known better) to invest as much as $30 million--upwards of $400 million today--in phantom timberland and nonexistent oil wells in Panama. It was an ingenious deceit, one that out-ponzied Charles Ponzi himself, who only a few years earlier had been arrested for a pyramid scheme. Leo had a good run--his was perhaps the longest fraud in history--and when his enterprise finally collapsed in 1923, he vanished. The Cook County state's attorney, a man whose lust for power equaled Leo's own lust for money, began an international manhunt that lasted almost a year. When finally apprehended, Leo was living a life of luxury in Nova Scotia under the assumed identity of a book dealer and literary critic. A salacious court hearing followed, and his mysterious death in a Chicago prison rivaled the rest of his almost-too-bizarre-to-believe life. A rip-roaring tale of greed, financial corruption, dirty politics, over-the-top and under-the-radar deceit, illicit sex, and a brilliant and wildly charming con man on the town and then on the lam, Empire of Deception has it all. It's not only a rich and detailed account of a man and an era; it's a fascinating look at the methods of swindlers throughout history. Leo Koretz was the Bernie Madoff of his day, and Dean Jobb shows us that the American dream of easy wealth is timeless.
Publisher: [Place of publication not identified] : Algonquin Books, 2015
Copyright Date: ©2015
ISBN: 9781616204969
Branch Call Number: 364.163 Jo
Description: 1 online resource (352 pages)
Additional Contributors: Freading (Firm)

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r
richibi
Sep 12, 2016

a fascinating story brilliantly told, reads like a bestseller

j
jamlover2
Aug 20, 2015

Very well written, and the author was able to convey a clear picture of the sights, images and fashions of the era. I also found it moderately humorous, although other emotions such as pity and contempt were also ignited. I think that one sub-theme was not adequately addressed, which is the real underlying reason why Koretz acted the way he did in Chicago and Nova Scotia. Was it to counter-balance his insecurities? Was it his need to be admired and always at the centre of attention?
This however is not a shortcoming of the author, as only Koretz himself could provide these answers.

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