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Download A Disposition to Be Rich: How a Small-Town Pastor's Son Ruined an American President, Brought on a Wall Street Crash, and Made Himself the Best-Hated Man in the United States Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample A Disposition to Be Rich: How a Small-Town Pastors Son Ruined an American President, Brought on a Wall Street Crash, and Made Himself the Best-Hated Man in the United States, by Geoffrey C. Ward Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (55 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Geoffrey C. Ward Narrator: Robertson Dean Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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The compelling, unknown, behind-the-scenes story of the greatest swindler of the Gilded Age, whose villainy bankrupted Ulysses S. Grant and stunned the world of finance—told by his great-grandson, the award-winning historian Geoffrey C. Ward.

Ferdinand Ward was the Bernie Madoff of his generation—a supposed genius at making big money fast on Wall Street who turned out to have been running a giant pyramid scheme that ultimately collapsed in one of the greatest financial scandals in American history. The son of a protestant missionary and small-town pastor with secrets of his own to keep, Ward came to New York at twenty-one and in less than a decade, armed only with charm, energy, and a total lack of conscience. He made himself the business partner of a former president of the United States and was widely hailed as the “Young Napoleon of Finance.” In truth, he turned out to be a complete fraud, his entire life marked by dishonesty, cowardice, and contempt for anything but his own interests.

Drawing from thousands of never-before-examined family documents, Geoffrey C. Ward traces his great-grandfather’s rapid rise to riches and fame and his even more dizzying fall from grace. There are mistresses and mansions along the way; fast horses, crooked bankers, and corrupt New York officials; courtroom confrontations and six years in Sing Sing; and Ferdinand’s desperate scheme to kidnap his own son to get his hands on the estate his late wife had left the boy. A Disposition to Be Rich is a great story about a classic American con artist, told with boundless charm and dry wit by one of our finest historians.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Engaging accounts of American history and culture are author Ward’s métier. Here, Dean assures their success as an audiobook.”

    AudioFile

  • "[Ward] narrates a rollicking financial picaresque, but infuses it with psychological depth.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “[A] wry and engrossing tale of Gilded Age greed that resonates powerfully in our own time.”

    Jonathan Alter, author of The Promise

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Justin Pauls | 12/6/2013

    " Fascinating read, though a little dry at times. Very interesting to learn about the 19th century Madoff who ruined U.S. Grant. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Collins Roth | 5/2/2013

    " While slow at first in the early life of F. Ward, the remainder of the book is a fascinating look at a 19th century Bernie Madoff. Its remarkable to realize some people can make their whole lives a lie... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Donna Campbell | 1/7/2013

    " I really enjoyed this book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by David Knickmeyer | 10/9/2012

    " Good read. Mr. Ward does a good job of brining his great-grandfather to life. It moved quickly and didn't get too bogged down in any of the financial details. "

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