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Ponzi's Scheme: The True Story of a Financial Legend | [Mitchell Zuckoff]

Ponzi's Scheme: The True Story of a Financial Legend

It was a time when anything seemed possible, instant wealth, glittering fame, fabulous luxury, and for a run of magical weeks in the spring and summer of 1920, Charles Ponzi made it all come true. Promising to double investors' money in three months, the dapper, charming Ponzi raised the "rob Peter to pay Paul" scam to an art form and raked in millions at his office in downtown Boston.
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Publisher's Summary

It was a time when anything seemed possible, instant wealth, glittering fame, fabulous luxury, and for a run of magical weeks in the spring and summer of 1920, Charles Ponzi made it all come true. Promising to double investors' money in three months, the dapper, charming Ponzi raised the "rob Peter to pay Paul" scam to an art form and raked in millions at his office in downtown Boston. Ponzi's Scheme is the amazing true story of the irresistible scoundrel who launched the most successful scheme of financial alchemy in modern history, and uttered the first roar of the Roaring Twenties.

Ponzi may have been a charlatan, but he was also a wonderfully likable man. His intentions were noble, his manners impeccable, his sales pitch enchanting. Born to a genteel Italian family, he immigrated to the United States with big dreams but no money. Only after he became hopelessly enamored of a stenographer named Rose Gnecco and persuaded her to marry him did Ponzi light on the means to make his dreams come true. His true motive was not greed but love.

With rich narrative skill, Mitchell Zuckoff conjures up the feverish atmosphere of Boston during the weeks when Ponzi's bubble grew bigger and bigger. At the peak of his success, Ponzi was taking in more than $2 million a week. And then his house of cards came crashing down, thanks in large part to the relentless investigative reporting of Richard Grozier's Boston Post.

In Zuckoff's hands, Ponzi is no mere swindler; instead he is appealing and magnetic, a colorful and poignant figure, someone who struggled his whole life to attain great wealth and who sincerely believed, to the very end, that he could have made good on his investment promises if only he'd had enough time. Ponzi is a classic American tale of immigrant life and the dream of success, and the unexpectedly moving story of a man who, for a fleeting, illusory moment, attained it all.

©2005 Mitchell Zuckoff; (P)2005 Books on Tape, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Zuckoff...tells Ponzi's story amicably and briskly, and keeps the complicated financial intricacies understandable." (The New York Times Book Review)
"Zuckoff's biography of Ponzi is meticulously accurate, based on memoirs and newspaper accounts of the day, weaving the story of the rise of this small-time Italian immigrant with that of Richard Grozier, second-generation editor of the Boston Post." (Booklist)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    Shawn Lindon, UT, United States 04-30-11
    Shawn Lindon, UT, United States 04-30-11 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Riveting"

    I was completely fascinated from start to finish. What a great tale. I will never hear "Ponzi scheme" the same way again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jean STAFFORD, VA, United States 06-26-10
    Jean STAFFORD, VA, United States 06-26-10 Member Since 2009
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    "Fascinating!"

    This book was such a good read. I really didn't know what to expect, you actually feel quite sorry for Ponzi in the end. He had such good intentions, but you know what they say about "good intentions".
    From start to finish I just couldn't put this book down.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steven Ann Arbor, MI, USA 04-15-10
    Steven Ann Arbor, MI, USA 04-15-10
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    14
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    "A Business Biography that Reads Like Novel"

    I really enjoyed listening to this book. The author doesn't overdo the coverage on any part of Ponzi's life, or spend time going over pointless antidotes that don't serve the purpose of illustrating either a pivotal moment or the character of Ponzi. As a result, the story moves along at a really nice pace and is never too slow or boring.
    The narration was also really good - as good as it gets in my opinion. Some narrators are really boring to listen to, but this guy (Grover Gardner) did such a great job I felt that his narration added to the interest of the story. Some narrators sound like they just got woken up from a nap to do a reading, but Gardner's treatment is upbeat and lively.
    I felt listening to this book was time well spent and worth the purchase/credit.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris Wilmington, NC, USA 02-15-10
    Chris Wilmington, NC, USA 02-15-10 Member Since 2003
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    "Loved It"

    I always like reading about how certain phrases or actions get into society. This one was very intriguing and at times I felt sorry for Ponzi. He started out with honest motives but got in over his head. An interesting story that puts a friendly face on one of the most ridiculed ways of thievery.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Leon Laguna Beach, CA, United States 06-11-09
    Leon Laguna Beach, CA, United States 06-11-09 Member Since 2002
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    "How stupid can people be???"

    What a fun book to listen to! It's hard to believe that people in the 20's were that gullible. But, given all the TARP money that Washington has handed out, maybe we haven't changed that much. I actually liked Charles Ponzi at the end of the book....

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Franklin, MA, United States 01-20-09
    Robert Franklin, MA, United States 01-20-09 Member Since 2001
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent if you like history and business"

    This book is excellent. As this book provides the color of the 1900 - 1920's in Boston, it provides an entertaining account of the flawed optimist Charles Ponzi rags to riches to rags story. Nicely written and well read.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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