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Ponzi: The Incredible True Story of the King of Financial Cons (Library of Larceny) Paperback – March 23, 2004

4.1 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

No swindler in history has operated with more style than the legendary figure colorfully chronicled in this book” —Washington Post

Packed with details and color and yielding a narrative that flows as easily as that of a good pulp novel.” —Chicago Daily News
“Ponzi was superb at his game and following his financial twists and turns is lots of fun.” —San Francisco Examiner

From the Inside Flap

Just who was the man whose name has become synonymous with the classic "rob-Peter-to-pay-Paul" scam in which money from new investors is used to reward earlier ones? In December 1919, he was an unknown thirty-eight-year-old, self-educated Italian immigrant with a borrowed two-hundred dollars in his pocket. Six months later, he was Boston's famed "wizard of finance," lionized by the public and politicians alike. Based on exclusive interviews with people who knew Charles Ponzi, lent him their money, and exposed him, Donald Dunn's "Ponzi recreates both one of America's most notorious and colorful financial con artists and the mad money-hungry era in which he thrived.
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Product Details

  • Series: Library of Larceny
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books (March 23, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767914996
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767914994
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,473,098 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
To understand the Ponzi scheme, is to understand the basic root of all types of [cheating]. This book gives a wonderful overview of the life and times of Charles Ponzi. It is written as a historical novel, but seems to be very well researched! The epilogue alone is full of details concerning an important subject about whom little has been written. I only wish the book was footnoted as to references. Donald Dunn has done history a great service by documenting the life of Mr. Ponzi. THIS BOOK IS A "FUN READ" ABOUT A SERIOUS HISTORICAL EVENT!
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What is all of this nonsense about this being"the finest book"about Ponzi and his pyramid scheme?It is nothing of the sort..Indeed,given the preponderance of invented dialogue,which cannot be in any way verified as ever having taken place this volume is just one baby step above being a novel.Ponzi and his con was front-page news for weeks back in the day,just as the Madof pyramid scheme was front-page news in recent times.Given that this book was written in the 1974 and"researched"even earlier there were then still countless persons alive with first-hand knowledge of Ponzi and/or those ruined by him.That author Donald Dunn chose to write pointless dialogue instead of giving us the facts in a reader-friendly format makes this book more of a joke than a realistic look into the classic con man and his era.
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Format: Paperback
Like a great crime drama, "Ponzi" takes you down the amazing road of a simple huckster, and how close he came to making it big. I knocked it out in under 3 days; it's impossible to put down!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Donald Dunn has written a historical account of the greatest con of the twentieth century, that flows and pulls you in to the story like the latest thriller. Dunn leveraged contemporary accounts, Ponzi's autobiography, and un-precedented access to insiders including Ruth Ponzi. When this book was written in 1973, Ruth Ponzi was in her seventies, and operating a concession stand at a Florida racetrack with her second husband. Dunn tracked her down and convinced her to help with the book on the condition that her identity was not revealed during her lifetime. She has since gone to collect her just rewards and Dunn has updated the book, to show analogies to Enron. The former Mrs. Ponzi had been pursued by many for a long time who thought perhaps she had some of their money.

Charles Ponzi was everything we have heard and more. An Italian immigrant, he bounced around the US and Canada for years, learning the banking industry, running small cons, and doing time in prison. Then he appeared in Boston, married a beautiful young woman, and set up his own shop. He did very well the first 6 months, paying 50% interest each quarter to his initial investors using the new money from the later investors. He even survived the first run on his company, in fact this improved his balance sheet since the redemptions pre-maturity did not pay any interest. Financial analysts were telling the public that this was a house of cards, but people were loyal to the man who paid an order of magnitude more than the local banks. However he could not survive the Boston newspapers reporting that he had been in prison for extended periods on two occasions.

Federal and state prison followed, then deportation to Italy.
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By A Customer on April 15, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book is a great read that all will enjoy! Fascinating story and very well written. I am recommending PONZI for my next book club meeting. And I can't wait for the movie to come out!
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Format: Paperback
?Ponzi? chronicles the life of Charles Ponzi who is synonymous with the scam of paying off new investors with old investors money. This entertaining character would promise a 50% return on investment in 90 days.

To recruit investors Ponzi would hire people on a freelance basis, whereby they would earn 10% of new investors money. For example, if they located someone willing to invest $1000 they would earn $100. These recruiters would target both the poor and the wealthy. This caused such a surge in demand that Ponzi could afford paying off old investors with the new money that was constantly pouring in.

Each major city eventually had someone working for him, and eventually there would be thousands of investors lined up, waiting patiently for hours for the privilege of investing.

At one point major banks had to shut down because most account holders were withdrawing all of their funds to invest with Ponzi. Ponzi of course had enough money to rescue some banks from bankruptcy and became a majority shareholder.

These investments were based on a bogus business of buying and selling International Reply Coupons.

This is thrilling to read and at times what happens sounds too unbelievable to be. Other scenes are hilarious as the story moves around from one con to another. My only complaint with this book is that at times the author ?Donald Dunn? dictates what Ponzi is thinking, when there is no actual way for him to know.

This is a great addition to the ?Broadway Books Library of Larceny?. You might also want to read another book in this series titled ?Where?s the Money?, which is the autobiography of Willie Sutton, a famous bank robber.
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