Empire of Deception

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

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By Dean Jobb

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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.

“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

  • “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

On Sale
Jan 5, 2016
Page Count
352 pages
Publisher
Algonquin Books
ISBN-13
9781616205355

Dean Jobb Author Photo

Dean Jobb

About the Author

Dean Jobb is the author of The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream, winner of the inaugural CrimeCon CLUE Award for true crime book of the year and longlisted for the American Library Association’s Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction. His previous books include Empire of Deception, which the New York Times Book Review called “intoxicating and impressively researched” and the Chicago Writers Association named the Nonfiction Book of the Year. Esquire magazine has hailed him as “a master of narrative nonfiction.” Jobb has written for major newspapers and magazines, including the Chicago Tribune and Toronto’s Globe and Mail and his monthly true crime column, “Stranger Than Fiction,” appears in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. He is a professor at the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he teaches in the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction program.
 

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