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Ponzi's Scheme: The True Story of a Financial Legend Paperback – January 10, 2006
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Top Customer Reviews
It is a fascinating tale! The side story of the faithful wife who only wanted her husband at home without the money and the final outcome of their marriage is also heartwarming and tragic.
I like business biographies and this certainly qualifies although I wouldn't consider him the classic success story. This book offers so much more with detailed history of that time period and the roles regulators, politicians and media played in society at that time. And the story itself is charming in many ways. Charles Ponzi was a common man that on the surface became wealthy and everyone rooted for him. But it only lasted so long. If you have interest in finance you will like this book. If you have interest in the history of the early 1900s in this growing country you will be interested. If you like novels and good character growth I think this will also be of interest as it reads like a novel as he develops his scheme.
Although he was hardly the first to come up with the con game, Ponzi will forever be associated with pyramid schemes and "robbing Peter to pay Paul" schemes. The way he did it was brilliantly simple: Come up with a way of making money that seems completely legal and is relatively easy to explain. Market that scheme to folks that are in the same boat as you (e.g., same industry, ethnicity, religion, neighborhood, etc.) Pay the astronomical returns to the initial investors. Then let their word of mouth recommendations bring in additional investors. Repeat the process and watch the money pour in.
It is difficult to read this book and not empathize with Ponzi. Even though the reader knows that many of Ponzi's "investors" will become victims of the fraud, Ponzi's amazingly seductive personality is able to win over most people. The question that lingers throughout most of the book is whether Ponzi ever actually intended to pay off the investors with a legal - and feasible - money-making idea, or whether he simply wanted to scam the victims out of their life savings. The answer is finally provided by Ponzi himself towards the end of his life.
This book - and Ponzi's story - serves as a great reminder of the old adage that if something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.Read more ›
To his credit, Zuckoff does explain his sources very well in the back of the book. However, even using the substantiated facts that he himself presented, one wonders if Ponzi really was trying to legitimate his career, pressures from his wife and mother aside.
Even according to Zuckoff's own account, trouble followed Ponzi like mice to cheese. How many times have you been arrested? Me neither. Given the series of events and the fact that Ponzi kept lying to everyone (even behind his facade of charming confidence), I don't think he deserves an iota of sympathy (although Zuckoff and the New York Times did bring up interesting questions about Ponzi's investors and their characters--the desire to get something for nothing).
Most telling are Ponzi's quotes and actions after turning himself in for the fraud committed under the auspices of the Securities Exchange Company and serving his prison term for that. Here we see the desperate thief running from the authorities and making a pretty stark "confession" (as Zuckoff states) later in life which shows little remorse.
I wonder if Ponzi's character was more consistent than Zuckoff describes through this book. He started off as a person of questionable character and ended the same way. I just don't think he was as desperate to legitimize his scheme as Zuckoff makes him out to be (he seemed to do a lot of thinking about how to manipulate the coupons, rather than doing; and what he really got close to doing (stealing from his own bank), wasn't very legitimate).Read more ›
The result is a very readable book with a combination of good lessons for its reader about too-good-to-be-true propositions, great characters, good history, financial lessons, and a tradgedy of Shakesperean proportions.
Highly recommended for history buffs, fans of character-driven stories, people in financial markets, and anyone who's curious to know the story behind the phrase "Ponzi Scheme."
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Loved learning more about Ponzi. He is an amazing character. Clearly, he was delusional but charismatic and confident. Lots of lessons to be learned.Published 24 days ago by J. Gehrt
“The air was tense with ill-suppressed excitement. Hope and greed could be read in everybody’s countenance, [or] guessed from the wads of money nervously clutched and waved by... Read morePublished 1 month ago by George E. Dawson
Fascinating, especially toward the end. Just too repetitivePublished 4 months ago by Michael Feiner
An amazing story. Very interesting personality, Mr Ponzi. An intriguing read.
Another success by Mr Zuckoff who hasn't written a bad story.
It was very interesting to read this story of the original Ponzi scheme in our present time os similar activities.Published 5 months ago by ron nevinsMyron Nevins
Rating this work as brilliant would do Mr. Zuckoff an injustice. I am currently on vacation with my family and am sorry to say that I have spent most of my time glued to these... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Kindle Customer