Empire Of Deception

From Chicago to Nova Scotia--The Incredible Story of a Master Swindler Who Seduced a City and Captivated the Nation

by Dean Jobb

On Sale: 05/19/2015

Empire Of Deception

From Chicago to Nova Scotia--The Incredible Story of a Master Swindler Who Seduced a City and Captivated the Nation

by Dean Jobb

On Sale: 05/19/2015


Robbie Robertson Dartmouth Book Award (Non-Fiction)

Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Non-Fiction

National Post Book of the Year

Globe and Mail Best Book of the Year

Arthur Ellis Award for Non-fiction

Democracy 250 Atlantic Book Award for Historical Writing

Chicago Writers Association’s Book of the Year Award, Traditional Non-Fiction

Evelyn Richardson Non-Fiction Award

About the Book

In the tradition of bestselling books like The Devil in the White City and The Man in the Rockefeller Suit, Empire of Deception combines investigative journalism and captivating storytelling to examine one of the greatest con men of the twentieth century

It was a time of unregulated madness. And nowhere was it more mad than in Chicago at the dawn of the Roaring Twenties. Speakeasies thrived, gang war shootings announced Al Capone's rise to underworld domination, Chicago's corrupt political leaders fraternized with gangsters and the frenzy of stock market gambling was rampant. Enter a slick, smooth-talking, charismatic lawyer named Leo Koretz, who enticed hundreds of people to invest as much as $30 million—upwards of $400 million today—in phantom timberland and non-existent oil wells in Panama. When Leo's scheme finally collapsed in 1923, he vanished, and the Chicago state's attorney, a man whose lust for power equalled Leo's own lust for money, began an international manhunt that lasted almost a year. When finally apprehended, Leo was living a life of luxury in Nova Scotia under the assumed identity of a book dealer and literary critic. His mysterious death in a Chicago prison topped anything in his almost-too-bizarre-to-believe life.

Empire of Deception is not only an incredibly rich and detailed account of a man and an era; it is a fascinating look at the methods of swindlers throughout history. Leo Koretz was the Bernie Madoff of his day, and Dean Jobb shows us that the dream of easy wealth is a timeless commodity.

Critical Praise

“Like getting on the storied Cyclone roller coaster at Coney Island . . . holding your breath throughout its peaks and valleys, then getting out of the car, flushed and shaken, only wanting to ride it all over again . . . [a] thrilling, too-wild-for-fiction tale.” — The Globe and Mail

“An absorbing tale of astonishing duplicity.” — Maclean's

“Intoxicating and impressively researched, Jobb’s immorality tale provides a sobering post-Madoff reminder that those who think everything is theirs for the taking are destined to be taken.” — New York Times Book Review

“A thrilling read—a journey through the evasive American dream of easy wealth and its inevitable demise.” — Canada's History

"Dean Jobb is a master of narrative nonfiction on par with Erik Larson, author of The Devil in the White City. Jobb’s biography of Leo Koretz, the Bernie Madoff of the Jazz Age, is among the few great biographies that read like a thriller." — Esquire

“Terrific . . . a fast-paced, fact-laden narrative populated by red-blooded personalities . . . a captivating account.” — Winnipeg Free Press

“Comprehensively researched and enthralling . . . high-stakes drama of the first order . . . unmasking [a] master swindler and revealing the author as an equally masterful storyteller.” — Washington Post

“A laugh-out-loud page-turner, full of gullibility and twists and turns . . . a jaw-dropping, rollicking good read.” — Booklist

“Empire of Deception adds Leo Koretz to Chicago’s rogues’ gallery of the 1920s . . . great research . . . a masterpiece of narrative set-up and vivid language.” — Chicago Tribune

“This lively, entertaining, and depressingly relevant history of a man and his con reads like a novel and will be enjoyed by fans of popular history as well as true crime.” — Library Journal (starred review)

“[A] rollicking story of greed, financial corruption, dirty politics, and illicit sex.” — Publishers Weekly

“A captivating tale of high-flying financial chicanery in 1920s Chicago. Thoroughly enjoyable.” — Gary Krist, author of City of Scoundrels

“An absolutely rollicking tale that is one part The Sting, one part The Great Gatsby, and one part The Devil in the White City. Impressively researched and brilliantly told, Empire of Deception vividly recreates the unscrupulous side of 1920s Chicago.” — Karen Abbott, New York Times–bestselling author of Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy

“A guilty-pleasure reminder that the most audacious bad guys have always been the most entertaining. In Dean Jobb’s hands, the free-for-all 1920s, a sweet spot in the history of greed and corruption, reads like a Gatsby-Ponzi mashup.” — Neal Thompson, author of A Curious Man

“Highly readable. . . . Will convince any sensible reader that when it comes to investing in crackpot schemes, nobody ever learns anything by experience. Leo Koretz did exactly what Bernie Madoff did, and came to the same end, as did his investors. A dramatic read, and a useful lesson!” — Michael Korda, author of Charmed Lives

“Dean Jobb has found a fascinating yet little-known jazz-age tale and told it with style and smarts. Get in on the action.” — Jonathan Eig, New York Times–bestselling author of Get Capone

“Dean Jobb’s exploration of financial shaman Leo Koretz’s shameless scheming is a great read, but it’s also so much more than that. A brilliantly researched tale of greed, ambition, and our desperate need to believe in magic.” — Douglas Perry, author of Eliot Ness

“Except to those being swindled, swindlers make wonderful, swaggering copy, and Dean Jobb has made splendid use of the material in this juicy retelling. What a great caper movie this would make!” — Marq de Villiers, author of Our Way Out



Product Details

  • ISBN: 9781443441100
  • ISBN 10: 1443441104
  • Imprint: Harper Perennial
  • On Sale: 05/19/2015
  • Pages: 352
  • List Price:11.99 CAD
  • BISAC1 : HISTORY / Canada / Post-Confederation (1867-)

Empire Of Deception by Dean Jobb

The broadest selection of online bookstores. The links will take you to the web site's home page.

Other Booksellers

The broadest selection of online bookstores. The links will take you to the Web site's home page.


Specialty Booksellers

Interest-specific online venues and gift accounts that offer books for purchase. The links will take you to the store’s home page.

International Customers

If you are located outside Canada, the best way to order online is to choose from the following bookstores listed by region and country.