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The Embezzler Paperback – Large Print, May 1, 2010

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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: 9.9 x 6.9 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #700,407 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 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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4 of 4 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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3 of 3 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By GT500 on January 26, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book, written nearly 50 years ago, is not really about the intrigues of an embezzler (based on the indicted and imprisoned Wall Street WASP Richard Whitney -- circa 30s).

Instead, it is a long winded tale of a spoiled rich boy, and if there is "intrigue" -- if one can call it that -- it is of this boy's lower class friend perusing his upper class cousin or of visiting ancient sites in France with matronly society folk when the boy, now man, comes into his mother's inheritance.

And so on and so on with all that Downtown "Shabby" artifice, good for those who like dressing up, weak for those wanting to get into the criminal mind, because Whitney was not just a misguided person, he was a weasel.

There's a darker side here -- somewhere -- and skating around it with curious background stories will not do, no matter how entertaining it is for the reader to find herself in an exclusive country club hobnobbing with the so called elite who glibly chat about fox hunting, butlers, and la-dee-da...

Yet, despite this being a very quaint and dainty-like read with clubby mannerisms that let you cozy up to the well-to-do, there are some excellent observations of a world long gone by: how the Groton-Harvard man was supposed to fit into his world; and if there is a saving grace to this book some of it resides in that -- but not much.

The reading is often uphill and even slower downhill, with overly written observations of the manor born and extenuated moments to stir deeper significance to support the notion of a man going downhill. (Or is it uphill?)

No doubt, Mr. Auchincloss was a well educated and literate man, and decent -- very much so.
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