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The Embezzler Paperback – Large Print, May 1, 2010

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About the Author

Louis Auchincloss is an American novelist. He may well be the most prolific chronicler of the New York upper classes, a novelist of manners and morals in the tradition of Edith Wharton. Among his many works are Last of the Old Guard, The Headmaster’s Dilemma, and East Side Story. He is also the literary executor of the late Walter Lippmann.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 319 pages
  • Publisher: Transaction Large Print; 1 Lrg edition (May 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1412813263
  • ISBN-13: 978-1412813266
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.7 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,766,558 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Jack Purcell on September 25, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The Embezzler comes from a time when Americans still remembered the great depression and the old-money blue-bloods hadn't entirely released their hold on New York. Auchincloss captures their views of themselves more realistically than a lot of writers probably have done. That, if no other reason, probably makes this book a worthy expenditure of time.
However, Embezzler is also a study in the tension between honor of the old-time variety, loyalty, and gratitude (or the lack of those).
Prime, member of a poor-relations line of wealth meets Rex Geer, a minister's son with a promising future, struggling through Harvard early in the century. Geer is on the brink of needing to drop out of school. Prime, before they become friends, sympathizes enough to visit a key authority and arrange for Geer to continue his education. He brings Geer to his home many times for summer stays, to the dismay of his family and societal equals, introducing him to the people who eventually give Geer the openings necessary to his future.
Late in his life and many years after his Wall Street disgrace and prison, Prime observes, "today I'd be snubbed by Rex Geer who'd probably be a haberdasher in Jersey City if it weren't for me".
Thanks to interventions in his life by Prime and thanks also to Geer's own talent and initiative, Geer becomes one of the most financially powerful men of the time.
Midway through the depression and at the peak of his career Prime secures loans against his sinking fortunes, using a foundation's resources he's responsible for illegally to stay afloat. As the stocks creep further downward he finds himself on the brink of discovery. He goes to Geer (who's meanwhile having a long-term affair with Prime's wife)in hopes of a loan.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By David A. Kemp on September 19, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This novel, one of Auchincloss's best and from his prime period, is the life story of ill-fated Guy Prime, who was born into a minor blueblooded branch of New York society, enjoyed a gilded youth, eventually earned lasting ignominy when his embezzlements were revealed, resulting in his indictment, trial, Congressional hearing (it's 1936 and he is made a poster boy for Wall Street corruption by the New Deal), and imprisonment, and spent the nondescript remainder of his life in Panama isolated from all his family, friends, and associates, waiting to die. He is an intriguing, complex character, by no means all bad, and his story is told by three narrators: himself, his best friend (and eventual nemesis), and his wife. This multiple-narrator technique, "surrounding" the central character from a Rasohomon-like multiplicity of differing perspectives, had been successfully employed by Auchincloss in his most famous novel, The Rector of Justin (1964), the novel immediately preceding this one, and it works effectively here too. The book is well written, the right length, and compulsively readable. I first read it when it came out in 1966, have just re-read it, and find that it holds up quite well.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Kurt Keefner on August 29, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I guess you could read this book to learn more about the cowboys on Wall Street, but I read it for character. I LOVE The Rector of Justin: A Novel and was looking for more. This is almost as good. MILD SPOILERS AHEAD

Like all of Auchincloss' novels, this one concerns New York high society and the three major characters are in some sense defined by it: Guy, the embezzler of the title, comes from the edge of society, but wants to be at the center. He is charming, charming, good with people, witty, pretty (when he was young). He idealizes everything, and Auchincloss shows you just how dangerous that can be.

Rex, Guy's best friend, comes from a New Hampshire minister's family. He's a puritan: honest, direct, upright, smart, meticulous--and bursting with unexpressed passion. Sort of a combination of Dimmesdale and Chillingworth together, if that's possible. Rex and Guy prove that opposites attract.

The third vertex of the triangle is Angelina. She's less defined that the other two. She was a bratty teenager under the domination of her parents who escaped with Guy into marriage, becoming for many years his sex-slave. She becomes independent and ironic later and has a brief affair with Rex that might have triggered Guy's embezzling.

This really is a character study. It doesn't have a plot in the normal sense, but is organized into three periods: Before, During and After the Embezzlement era. The After part gets the least attention, I wouldn't say the novel is leading up to any obvious sort of climax. It's all about the development of personalities, and Auchincloss is very good at that task.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Showme on November 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Although written in the 1960s, and covering a period between 1900-ish and the 1930s, reading this book allowed me to imagine I was in Bernie Madoff's head, learning why he did what he did.

Mr. Auchincloss has an elegant writing style I enjoy, using a sentence structure that sometimes makes me pause to re-read, to make sure I've understood his meaning correctly.

This is a good read. The topics covered - Wall Street, intrigue, love, deceit, manipulation - remain timely.

If I were going to quibble, it would be on behalf of the character, Lucy (Rex's wife). Although she was intellectually and emotionally strong, intelligent, insightful, and loving, the author really did her wrong by allowing the main characters to universally dismiss her as "poor creature."
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