A Disposition to Be Rich

Ferdinand Ward, the Greatest Swindler of the Gilded Age

By Geoffrey C. Ward
(Vintage Books, Paperback, 9780345804693, 418pp.)

Publication Date: April 23, 2013

List Price: $16.00*
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A New York Times Notable Book

The compelling behind-the-scenes story of the greatest swindler of the Gilded Age, whose villainy bankrupted Ulysses S. Grant and stunned the world of finance—told by his great-grandson, award-winning historian Geoffrey C. Ward.
Ferdinand Ward, the son of a Protestant missionary and small-town pastor, moved to New York at twenty-one and, in less than a decade, made himself the business partner of a former president and established himself as the “Young Napoleon of Finance.” In truth, he was running a massive pyramid scheme. Drawing from thousands of family documents never before examined, Geoffrey C. Ward traces his great-grandfather’s rapid rise to riches and fame, and his even more dizzying fall from grace, in a narrative populated with mistresses, crooked bankers, corrupt New York officials, and a desperate kidnapping scheme. Here is a great story about a classic American con artist.

About the Author
Geoffrey C. Ward is an author and screenwriter of various documentary presentations of American history. He wrote the television mini-series "The Civil War" with director Ken Burns and has authored or coauthored numerous books, including "A First-Class Temperament" and "Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson".
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