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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
Ward, Geoffrey C. (Book - 2012 )
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
A Disposition to Be Rich
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Random House, Inc.

Ferdinand Ward was the greatest swindler of the Gilded Age. Through his unapologetic villainy, he bankrupted Ulysses S. Grant and ran roughshod over the entire world of finance. Now, his compelling, behind-the-scenes story is told—told by his great-grandson, award-winning historian Geoffrey C. Ward.
Ward was the Bernie Madoff of his day, a supposed genius at making big money fast on Wall Street who turned out to have been running a giant pyramid scheme—one 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 with charm, energy, and a total lack of conscience, made himself the business partner of the 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 family documents never before examined, 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 and 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. Here is a great story about a classic American con artist, told with boundless charm and dry wit by one of our finest historians.




Baker & Taylor
Documents the story of Gilded Age con artist Ferdinand Ward, recounting how his large-scale pyramid operation and other sensational schemes triggered one of the greatest financial scandals in American history.

Baker
& Taylor

The National Book Critics Circle Award-winning author of Unforgiveable Blackness documents the story of Gilded Age con artist Ferdinand Ward, recounting how his large-scale pyramid operation and other sensational schemes triggered one of the greatest financial scandals in American history. 35,000 first printing.

Authors: Ward, Geoffrey C.
Statement of Responsibility: Geoffrey C. Ward
Title: 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
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2012
Edition: 1st ed
Characteristics: 418 p. : ill. ; 25 cm.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references (p. [389]-399) and index
Contents: pt. 1. The Puritan
The Higher Calling
Labouring in Hope
Chastened and Sanctified
pt. 2. One of the Worst Boys
A Contest for Principle & Truth
The Triumph of the Monster, "War"
Suspected of Evil
pt. 3. The Young Napoleon of Finance
The Avaricious Spirit
The Bonanza Man
The Imaginary Business
Tears of Grateful Joy
The End Has Come
pt. 4. The Best Hated Man in the United States
A Magnificent and Audacious Swindle
A Verdict at Last
The Model Prisoner
All That Loved Me Are in Heaven
pt. 5. The Loving Father
Driven to Desperation
The Kidnapping
Epilogue
Subject Headings: New York (N.Y.) Biography Rochester (N.Y.) Biography Ward, F. De W. (Ferdinand De Wilton), 1812-1891 Children of clergy New York (State) Biography Grant, Ulysses S. (Ulysses Simpson), 1822-1885 Friends and associates Ponzi schemes New York (State) New York History 19th century Financial crises United States History 19th century Swindlers and swindling United States Biography Capitalists and financiers United States Biography Ward, Ferdinand De Wilton, 1851-1925
Topical Term: Children of clergy
Ponzi schemes
Financial crises
Swindlers and swindling
Capitalists and financiers
LCCN: 2011035140
ISBN: 0679445307
9780679445302
Branch Call Number: B Ward W
Research Call Number: JFE 12-4492
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Jul 09, 2012
  • Agent13 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

It seems (?) that every family has a "Black Sheep", and it is true of the Ward family. Wait till you meet Ferdie Ward in this detailed book written by a family member out to mend, or prune, a bad branch in the family tree. In the course of the book, Ferdie's acts lead to taking down a financial institution and an American president. I cannot think which is worse: deceiving your business associates and clients, who you have a fiduciary responsibility to, or to your own flesh and blood. Read this book and come to your own conclusions.

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