Empire of Deception

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

By Dean Jobb

“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

In a time of unregulated madness, nowhere was it madder than in Chicago at the dawn of the Roaring Twenties. It was the perfect place for a slick, smooth-talking, charismatic lawyer named Leo Koretz to entice hundreds of people 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.  

In 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 and then on the lam, Empire of Deception proves that the American dream of easy wealth is truly a timeless commodity.  

“Captivating . . . Dean Jobb tells the story of Leo Koretz, a legendary con artist of Madoffian audacity, with terrific energy and narrative brio.” —Gary Krist, author of Empire of Sin

“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

“Reads like a Gatsby-Ponzi mashup . . . Kudos to Jobb for unearthing this overlooked story and bringing to life a charming, witty, naughty, iconic American crook.” —Neal Thompson, author of A Curious Man

“The granddaddy of all con men, Leo Koretz gives Jobb the opportunity to exhibit his impressive research and storytelling skills . . . A highly readable, entertaining story.” —Kirkus Reviews


 

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Review quotes
“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

“Comprehensively researched and enthralling . . . High-stakes hijinks give the story a rollicking feel, but Jobb manages great poignancy, too. . . This lively and sweeping account seems to have already given a master con artist his due, putting him in the ‘pantheon of pyramid-building swindlers.’” —The Washington Post

“This cautionary tale of 1920s greed and excess reads like it could happen today.” —The Associated Press

“Jobb vividly, albeit briefly, brings the Chicago of the 1880s and ‘90s to life . . . [and] is a masterpiece of narrative set-up and vivid language.” —Chicago Tribune 

“Dean Jobb skillfully dusts off this century-old tale with a fast-paced narrative, a keen eye for detail and a cast of characters in which the free-for-all city of Chicago plays a prominent role . . . [A] masterfully told story.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Jobb makes it clear that Koretz’s schemes weren’t unique to his time period. The parallels between Koretz and Madoff are fascinating: Both men 'dropped hints' and 'played hard to get,' only selling shares to those who persistently begged for them. And both confined their sales, at least at first, to an inner circle of those who knew and trusted them, making their betrayals all the more brutal.” —The Columbus Dispatch
 
“Peppered with contemporaneous photos depicting the key players and the swanky places, phony stock certificates, newspaper headlines, and even a 'wanted' posted, Empire of Deception is a jaw-dropping, rollicking good read.”—Booklist
 
“This lively, entertaining, and depressingly relevant history of a man and his con reads like a novel and will be enjoyed by fans of popular history as well as true crime.” —Library Journal, starred review

“[A] rollicking story of greed, financial corruption, dirty politics, and illicit sex.” —Publishers Weekly

“Dean Jobb has written an absolutely rollicking tale that is one part The Sting, one part The Great Gatsby, and one part The Devil in the White City. Impressively researched and brilliantly told, Empire of Deception vividly recreates the unscrupulous side of 1920s Chicago where greed, deception, and corruption ran amok, and where one Leo Koretz, a charismatic and enigmatic con man, charmed them all . . . including me.” —Karen Abbott, author of Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy
Product Details
Categories
Number of pages
352
Publication date
May 19, 2015
ISBN
9781616204969