Empire of Deception: The Incredible Story of a Master Swindler Who Seduced a City and Captivated the Nation (Paperback)

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

By Dean Jobb

Algonquin Books, 9781616205355, 352pp.

Publication Date: January 5, 2016

June 2015 Indie Next List

“It was P.T. Barnum who said that 'there's a sucker born every minute,' and there was never a better time to take advantage of that fact than during the Roaring 20s. This is the true story of the devious exploits of Leo Koretz, who forsook his Chicago law career to convince unsuspecting people to invest in a Panamanian oil field that he had concocted out of thin air, as well as an astute assessment of human nature. A fascinating tale of greed and gullibility.”
— Alden Graves (E), Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, VT
View the List
Advertisement

Description

It was a time of unregulated madness. And nowhere was it madder than in Chicago at the dawn of the Roaring Twenties. Enter a slick, smooth-talking, charismatic lawyer named Leo Koretz, who enticed hundreds of people to invest as much as $30 million upward of $400 million today in phantom timberland and nonexistent oil wells in Panama. This 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, then on the lam, is 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. As Model Ts rumbled down Michigan Avenue, gang-war shootings announced Al Capone's rise to underworld domination. As 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. Leo Koretz was the Bernie Madoff of his day, and Dean Jobb shows us that the American dream of easy wealth is a timeless commodity. ? A rollicking tale that is one part "The Sting," one part "The Great Gatsby," and one part "The Devil in the White City." Karen Abbott, author of "Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy" Intoxicating and impressively researched, Jobb's immorality tale provides a sobering post-Madoff reminder that those who think everything is theirs for the taking are destined to be taken. " The New York Times Book Review " Captivating . . . A story that seems to be as American as it can get, and it's told well. "The Christian Science Monitor" A masterpiece of narrative set-up and vivid language . . . Jobb vividly . . . brings the Chicago of the 1880s and 90s to life. "Chicago Tribune" This cautionary tale of 1920s greed and excess reads like it could happen today. The Associated Press.
Advertisement