Ponzi's Scheme: The True Story of America's Greatest Con Man

Version: Abridged
Author: Mitchell Zuckoff
Narrator: David Birney
Genres: History, Biography & Memoir, True Crime
Publisher: Random House (Audio)
Published In: March 2005
# of Units: 4 CDs
Length: 5 hours
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You've heard of the scheme. Now comes the man behind it. In Mitchell Zuckoff's exhilarating book, the first nonfiction account of Charles Ponzi, we meet the charismatic rogue who launched the most famous and extraordinary scam in the annals of American finance.
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.

From the Hardcover edition.

Reviews (6)

Ponzi's Scheme

Written by nab6215 from Altoona, PA on September 29th, 2015

  • Book Rating: 5/5

I listened to the abridgement but I still wanted more. This did what a good book does, satisfies but leaves you wondering what happened next. I don't know if it was because of the abridgement or just the book, but I wanted to know what happened to his family after his last imprisonment. What were the legal changes. The postal regulations changed, but what about banking regulations. It seems it took the crashes 1929 to do that, but it shouldn't have. There had been plenty of runs before then to see what happened. What about trading regulations? That seemed to wait until the crash as well. They could have learned from Ponzi!!! Ug! Anyway, this was a well written book that blended well the person and the era. Well done Mithcell Zuckoff.


Written by Jean from Santa Cruz, CA on July 9th, 2011

  • Book Rating: 5/5

This is an interesting story about the life of Charles Ponzi. With all the current news about the Madoff trial I thought this book was great to fully understand about how this con scheme all started.

For financial nerds

Written by Peggy Stortz on April 25th, 2010

  • Book Rating: 3/5

If you think financial wheeling and dealing is interesting, you will LOVE this book. If you fall asleep when someone says dividends, skip this one.

3 stars out of 5

Written by vgn on March 11th, 2009

  • Book Rating: 3/5

Talk bout sympathy --- was the author related to Mr. Ponzi? a nice book but again I little childish how the author had so much sympathy for Mr. Ponzi and absolutely non for all the people he scammed --- in fact Mr. Ponzi would probably enjoy this book himself. At 3 stars I would recommend but barely.

Fantastic book!

Written by Tom Watrous on August 13th, 2007

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Don't miss this one. Simply fascinating. I've heard about Ponzi schemes all my life, and here is the real deal on how it all began. First rate!

Ponzi's Scheme

Written by KD on June 24th, 2006

  • Book Rating: 4/5

I'd always heard ofd pyramid schemes being called Ponzi schemes, but never knew what scheme Ponzi had done to deserve such a dubious honor. This book explains it all. A very well-read book about the life of Charlas Ponzi, how he came up with the scheme that bears his name, and what happened to him. I enjoyed this book.

Author Details

Author Details

Zuckoff, Mitchell

Mitchell Zuckoff is a professor of journalism at Boston University and the author of five previous books, including the New York Times bestseller Lost in Shangri-La, which won the Winship/PEN Award for Nonfiction. As a reporter for the Boston Globe, he was a Pulitzer Prize finalist and won the Distinguished Writing Award from the American Society of Newspaper Editors. He lives in Newton, Massachusetts.