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The New York Times Book ReviewIn telling this personal tale, Ward applies his characteristic scrupulousness and narrative skill. Vivid, living people swarm the pages.
—T. J. Stiles
Ferdinand Ward was the greatest swindler of the Gilded Age. Through his unapologetic villainy, he bankrupted Ulysses S. Grant and ran roughshod over the entire world of finance. Now, his compelling, behind-the-scenes story is told?told by his great-grandson, award-winning historian Geoffrey C. Ward.
Ward was the Bernie Madoff of his day, a supposed genius at making big money fast on Wall Street who turned out to have been running a giant pyramid scheme?one that ultimately ...
Ferdinand Ward was the greatest swindler of the Gilded Age. Through his unapologetic villainy, he bankrupted Ulysses S. Grant and ran roughshod over the entire world of finance. Now, his compelling, behind-the-scenes story is told—told by his great-grandson, award-winning historian Geoffrey C. Ward.
Ward was the Bernie Madoff of his day, a supposed genius at making big money fast on Wall Street who turned out to have been running a giant pyramid scheme—one that ultimately collapsed in one of the greatest financial scandals in American history. The son of a Protestant missionary and small-town pastor with secrets of his own to keep, Ward came to New York at twenty-one and in less than a decade, armed with charm, energy, and a total lack of conscience, made himself the business partner of the former president of the United States and was widely hailed as the “Young Napoleon of Finance.” In truth, he turned out to be a complete fraud, his entire life marked by dishonesty, cowardice, and contempt for anything but his own interests.
Drawing from thousands of family documents never before examined, Geoffrey C. Ward traces his great-grandfather’s rapid rise to riches and fame and his even more dizzying fall from grace. There are mistresses and mansions along the way; fast horses and crooked bankers and corrupt New York officials; courtroom confrontations and six years in Sing Sing; and Ferdinand’s desperate scheme to kidnap his own son to get his hands on the estate his late wife had left the boy. Here is a great story about a classic American con artist, told with boundless charm and dry wit by one of our finest historians.
Part 1 The Puritan
1 The Higher Calling 9
2 Labouring In Hope 34
3 Chastened and Sanctified 56
Part 2 One of the Worst Boys
4 A Contest for Principle & Truth 75
5 The Triumph of the Monster, "War" 90
6 Suspected of Evil 110
Part 3 The Young Napoleon of Finance
7 The Avaricious Spirit 127
8 The Bonanza Man 146
9 The Imaginary Business 165
10 Tears of Grateful Joy 187
11 The End Has Come 203
Part 4 The Best-Hated Man in the United States
12 Magnificent and Audacious Swindle 227
13 A Verdict at Last 251
14 The Model Prisoner 272
15 All That Loved Me Are in Heaven 293
Part 5 The Loving Father
16 Driven to Desperation 317
17 The Kidnapping 333
Posted March 18, 2014
Fascinating portrait of Ferd Ward, the scoundrel who bankrupted Pres Grant and defrauded thousands of people throughout his lifetime. Written by Ward's g-grandson who shakes out every skeleton from his family's closet, this book is an excellent addition to the history of the late 1800s.
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Posted May 19, 2012
Posted May 18, 2012