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The Ghosts of Eden Park

The Bootleg King, the Women Who Pursued Him, and the Murder That Shocked Jazz-Age America
Length: 11 hrs and 12 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (16 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The epic true crime story of the most successful bootlegger in American history and the murder that shocked the nation, from the New York Times best-selling author of Sin in the Second City and Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy

“Gatsby-era noir at its best.” (Erik Larson)

In the early days of Prohibition, long before Al Capone became a household name, a German immigrant named George Remus quits practicing law and starts trafficking whiskey. Within two years he's a multi-millionaire. The press calls him "King of the Bootleggers", writing breathless stories about the Gatsby-esque events he and his glamorous second wife, Imogene, host at their Cincinnati mansion, with party favors ranging from diamond jewelry for the men to brand-new cars for the women. By the summer of 1921, Remus owns 35 percent of all the liquor in the United States. 

Pioneering prosecutor Mabel Walker Willebrandt is determined to bring him down. Willebrandt's bosses at the Justice Department hired her right out of law school, assuming she'd pose no real threat to the cozy relationship they maintain with Remus. Eager to prove them wrong, she dispatches her best investigator, Franklin Dodge, to look into his empire. It's a decision with deadly consequences. With the fledgling FBI on the case, Remus is quickly imprisoned for violating the Volstead Act. Her husband behind bars, Imogene begins an affair with Dodge. Together, they plot to ruin Remus, sparking a bitter feud that soon reaches the highest levels of government - and that can only end in murder.  

Combining deep historical research with novelistic flair, The Ghosts of Eden Park is the unforgettable, stranger-than-fiction story of a rags-to-riches entrepreneur and a long-forgotten heroine, of the excesses and absurdities of the Jazz Age, and of the infinite human capacity to deceive.

Praise for The Ghosts of Eden Park

“An exhaustively researched, hugely entertaining work of popular history that...exhumes a colorful crew of once-celebrated characters and restores them to full-blooded life.... [Abbott’s] métier is narrative nonfiction and - as this vibrant, enormously readable book makes clear - she is one of the masters of the art.” (The Wall Street Journal)

©2019 Karen Abbott (P)2019 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“Karen Abbott has long shown a formidable talent for rescuing Gothic stories from the noirish margins of American history. In The Ghosts of Eden Park, she's done it once again. Here is a high-proof narrative from the Age of Excess, populated with real-life gangsters and flapper girls, but also with plenty of surprising characters who cut against type. This Prohibition-era tale of trapdoors and false bottoms, of wicked pleasures and brilliant deceptions, springs to life on the page - and has Hollywood written all over it.” (Hampton Sides, New York Times best-selling author of In the Kingdom of Ice)

“In Karen Abbott's hands, the saga of bootlegger George Remus is more than just a rollicking tale of money, obsession, and murder (although it is certainly that), it's nonfiction's answer to The Great Gatsby and an instant classic. Scrupulously researched and packed with jaw-dropping details, The Ghosts of Eden Park is the most thrilling narrative I have read in a long time.” (Gilbert King, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Devil in the Grove and Beneath a Ruthless Sun)

“In The Ghosts of Eden Park, historian Karen Abbott gifts us with a story of sex, madness, and murder in Jazz Age America that is as intoxicating as a hit of bootlegged bourbon. In Abbott's hands, truth is not only stranger than fiction, it's also a hell of a lot more thrilling. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough.” (Susannah Cahalan, number one New York Times best-selling author of Brain on Fire)
 

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Quite entertaining

It's probably best to go into the story knowing as little as possible of this history. The author intersperses storylines effectively, and presents certain information in a non-chronological fashion, but deftly, so as to not reveal the ultimate outcome. Anyone who's seen Boardwalk Empire will recognize the main players, and I couldn't help but have that image in mind whenever George Remus spoke, particularly when referring to himself in third person. In fact, at times, I began to wonder if it was the character or the storyteller speaking about George Remus! All in all, a pleasant listen.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Pronunciation Goof

It is LY- ma. Ohio, not LEE-ma. Took me a minute to figure out where he was hospitalized.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful