Ponzi's Scheme

  • by Mitchell Zuckoff
  • Narrated by David Birney
  • 4 hrs and 56 mins
  • Abridged Audiobook

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.

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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)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

very engaging book

This is a very interesting account of Ponzi's scheme and his life before he became famous. You learn a lot about the times and the Boston banking setting. The chapters about the Boston Post newspaper family, the Groziers, are omitted from this abridged version. I wish I had picked the nonabridged version because these sections would add perspective to the biography by showing a slice of the establishment to contrast to the immigrant schemer.

But the abridged version doensn't suffer from any feeling of gaps or omissions. I only know about the missing parts from reading more about the book later. You might like this four hour version if you just want the Ponzi story. The narrator is quite good.
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- Cynthia

Ponzi's Scheme

Great book, I liked the story line and how it was presented. Ponzi was quite a magician with money. He could make it disapear in a flash. I have to wonder about the scheme itself and if at any point in his life he ever reconciled that he would be caught and put in jail? Anyway, a great read (listen) especially with the current financial happenings. Enjoy it for what it is..cheers.
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- Ronald

Book Details

  • Release Date: 03-17-2005
  • Publisher: Random House Audio