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

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Book Description

A rollicking story of greed, financial corruption, dirty politics, over-the-top and under-the-radar deceit, illicit sex, and a brilliant and wildly charming con man who kept a Ponzi scheme alive perhaps for longer than anyone else in history.

It was a time of unregulated madness. And nowhere was it madder than in Chicago at the dawn of the Roaring Twenties. Speakeasies thrived, gang war shootings announced Al Capone’s rise to underworld domination, Chicago’s corrupt political leaders fraternized with gangsters, 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. When Leo’s scheme finally collapsed in 1923, he vanished, and the Chicago 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. His mysterious death in a Chicago prison topped anything in his almost-too-bizarre-to-believe life.

Empire of Deception is not only an incredibly 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 dream of easy wealth is a timeless commodity.

“A captivating tale of high-flying financial chicanery in 1920s Chicago. Dean Jobb tells the story of Leo Koretz, a legendary con artist of Madoffian audacity, with terrific energy and narrative brio. A thoroughly enjoyable read.” —Gary Krist, New York Times bestselling author of City of Scoundrels

“This highly readable account of a major swindle in the Roaring Twenties in Chicago will convince any sensible reader that when it comes to investing in crackpot schemes, nobody ever learns anything by experience. Leo Koretz did exactly what Bernie Madoff did, and came to the same end, as did his investors. A dramatic read, and a useful lesson!” —Michael Korda, author of Charmed Lives

Empire of Deception is a sure thing–a book guaranteed to entertain and make you rich (in knowledge, that is). Dean Jobb has found a fascinating yet little-known jazz-age tale and told it with style and smarts. Get in on the action.” —Jonathan Eig, New York Times bestselling author
of Get Capone

“Begin with a Bernie Madoff, wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing con man, pursued by a power-hungry prig of a public prosecutor; add the great hog-trough feeding frenzy of 1920s Chicago; stir with great writing and enterprising research; and there you have it: A wonderfully entertaining read!” —Michael Lesy, author of Wisconsin Death Trip and Murder City

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Book Details

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

Author:

Length: 352 Pages

Language: English

Publication Date: 2015-05-19

ISBN-10: 9781616204969

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