76 books like Ponzi's Scheme

By Mitchell Zuckoff,

Here are 76 books that Ponzi's Scheme fans have personally recommended if you like Ponzi's Scheme. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood

Paul Willetts Author Of King Con: The Bizarre Adventures of the Jazz Age's Greatest Impostor

From my list on twenty-first century true-crime.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an English nonfiction writer who is, I suppose, best-known for Members Only, my biography of the London strip club owner, theatre impresario, property magnate, and porn baron Paul Raymond, which was adapted into a big-budget movie called The Look of Love. Like many of my books, Members Only strayed into true crime, a genre that has, for all sorts of reasons, been attractive to me as a writer. Probably the most important of those is that it provides the opportunity to tell inherently dramatic stories and to convey a vivid picture of the past, thanks to the wealth of documentation associated with major crimes. 

Paul's book list on twenty-first century true-crime

Paul Willetts Why did Paul love this book?

It’s been said that true crime provides a window into the past.

Well, that’s certainly true of Tinseltown, which plunges readers into the early days of the Hollywood studio system. More specifically, William J. Mann’s justly popular book focuses on the unsolved murder of the silent movie-era director William Desmond Taylor.

Besides being an atmospheric and compulsively readable account of his death and its aftermath, the book offers a persuasive reinvestigation of this once-famous crime. 

By William J. Mann,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Tinseltown as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

New York Times Bestseller Edgar Award winner for Best Fact Crime The Day of the Locust meets The Devil in the White City and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil in this juicy, untold Hollywood story: an addictive true tale of ambition, scandal, intrigue, murder, and the creation of the modern film industry. By 1920, the movies had suddenly become America's new favorite pastime, and one of the nation's largest industries. Never before had a medium possessed such power to influence. Yet Hollywood's glittering ascendency was threatened by a string of headline-grabbing tragedies-including the murder of William Desmond…


Book cover of The Bobbed Haired Bandit: A True Story of Crime and Celebrity in 1920s New York

Glenn Stout Author Of Tiger Girl and the Candy Kid: America's Original Gangster Couple

From my list on the Roaring Twenties.

Why am I passionate about this?

The author, editor, or ghostwriter of more than 100 book titles, Glenn Stout loves to mine microfilmed newspaper archives and specializes in deeply reported historical narrative non-fiction that brings the past to life.  Many of his titles have intersected with the Roaring Twenties, including Young Woman and the Sea: How Trudy Ederle Conquered the English Channel and Changed the World, now in development for Disney+ as a major motion picture starring Daisy Ridley.  A long-time aficionado of noir and true crime, Tiger Girl and the Candy Kid was the culmination of more than fifteen years of dogged research, a story The Wall Street Journal called “a hell of a yarn--worthy of an HBO hoodlum epic like Boardwalk Empire.”

Glenn's book list on the Roaring Twenties

Glenn Stout Why did Glenn love this book?

In 1924 husband and wife team Celia and Ed Cooney, with a new baby on the way and not enough money, turned stick-up artists, with meek-looking, bobbed-hair Celia wielding the gun. The tabloids couldn’t get enough of the “flapper turned bad” storyline and for a time every bobbed-hair flapper and her swain in New York was under suspicion.

By Stephen Duncombe, Andrew Mattson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Bobbed Haired Bandit as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Illuminates the life and image of one of New York City's most fashionable criminals-Celia Cooney
Ripped straight from the headlines of the Jazz Age, The Bobbed Haired Bandit is a tale of flappers and fast cars, of sex and morality. In the spring of 1924, a poor, 19-year-old laundress from Brooklyn robbed a string of New York grocery stores with a "baby automatic," a fur coat, and a fashionable bobbed hairdo. Celia Cooney's crimes made national news, with the likes of Ring Lardner and Walter Lippman writing about her exploits for enthralled readers.
The Bobbed Haired Bandit brings to life…


Book cover of The Ghosts of Eden Park: The Bootleg King, the Women Who Pursued Him, and the Murder That Shocked Jazz-Age America

Glenn Stout Author Of Tiger Girl and the Candy Kid: America's Original Gangster Couple

From my list on the Roaring Twenties.

Why am I passionate about this?

The author, editor, or ghostwriter of more than 100 book titles, Glenn Stout loves to mine microfilmed newspaper archives and specializes in deeply reported historical narrative non-fiction that brings the past to life.  Many of his titles have intersected with the Roaring Twenties, including Young Woman and the Sea: How Trudy Ederle Conquered the English Channel and Changed the World, now in development for Disney+ as a major motion picture starring Daisy Ridley.  A long-time aficionado of noir and true crime, Tiger Girl and the Candy Kid was the culmination of more than fifteen years of dogged research, a story The Wall Street Journal called “a hell of a yarn--worthy of an HBO hoodlum epic like Boardwalk Empire.”

Glenn's book list on the Roaring Twenties

Glenn Stout Why did Glenn love this book?

The Roaring Twenties wouldn’t have roared quite as loud without Prohibition. And without George Remus, who cornered the bourbon market while enjoying a lifestyle pulled from the pages of The Great Gatsby – and who probably murdered his wife along the way - the era would have been a lot less liquid.

By Karen Abbott,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Ghosts of Eden Park as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The epic true crime story of the most successful bootlegger in American history and the murder that shocked the nation, from the New York Times bestselling author of Sin in the Second City and Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy

“Gatsby-era noir at its best.”—Erik Larson

An ID Book Club Selection • NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST HISTORY BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY SMITHSONIAN

In the early days of Prohibition, long before Al Capone became a household name, a German immigrant named George Remus quits practicing law and starts trafficking whiskey. Within two years he's a…


Book cover of For the Thrill of It: Leopold, Loeb, and the Murder That Shocked Jazz Age Chicago

Rebecca Frost Author Of Words of a Monster: Analyzing the Writings of H.H. Holmes, America's First Serial Killer

From my list on crimes you've never heard of.

Why am I passionate about this?

I picked up my first book about Jack the Ripper the summer after college and never looked back. Since then my collection of true crime has grown to overflow my office bookshelves and I’ve written a PhD dissertation and multiple books about true crime, focusing on serial killers. The genre is so much more than Bundy, Gacy, and Dahmer and I love talking with people about the less mainstream cases that interest them, and the newer victim-centered approaches that—fingers crossed—mark a change in how we talk about criminals and victims.

Rebecca's book list on crimes you've never heard of

Rebecca Frost Why did Rebecca love this book?

Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb set out to commit the perfect crime and ended up in newspapers as the perpetrators of “the crime of the century.” They kidnapped and murdered a teenage boy in Chicago in 1924, but both Leopold and Loeb were still considered boys themselves at the time. Clarence Darrow defended them at trial, arguing that they were guilty but that the situation had extenuating circumstances. Baatz’s book explores how two college students from good families ended up in prison for murder. Leopold’s family even came from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, near where I currently live, so even though the case is almost 100 years old, it’s not as distant as it might seem.

By Simon Baatz,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked For the Thrill of It as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It was a crime that shocked the nation: the brutal murder in Chicago in 1924 of a child by two wealthy college students who killed solely for the thrill of the experience. Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb were intellectuals—too smart, they believed, for the police to catch them. When they were apprehended, state's attorney Robert Crowe was certain that no defense could save the ruthless killers from the gallows. But the families of the confessed murderers hired Clarence Darrow, entrusting the lives of their sons to the most famous lawyer in America in what would be one of the most…


Book cover of Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Dawn Keetley Author Of Plant Horror: Approaches to the Monstrous Vegetal in Fiction and Film

From my list on the terrifying world of plants.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by horror since childhood–when Scooby-Doo: Where Are You! and Doctor Who were my favorite TV shows. I specifically remember watching the Doctor Who serial, The Seeds of Doom, and the 1962 film Day of the Triffids–both about killer plants! As I finished graduate school and then took jobs in higher education, I gravitated back to horror and the gothic, which I am now fortunate enough to teach and research. I’ve written academically about all kinds of horror (most recently folk horror)–and in 2015, myself and two others founded a website, Horror Homeroom, where I write about horror for more popular audiences.

Dawn's book list on the terrifying world of plants

Dawn Keetley Why did Dawn love this book?

I came to Finney’s novel after watching both of the excellent (and, for the most part, faithful) film adaptations (1956 and 1978). Finney’s novel is worth a read for its own sake, not least because an incredibly interesting chapter (13) explicitly weaves race into the narrative that’s absent from both films. Finney’s book represents (rather literally) how we tend to see plant life–when we think about it at all–as alien.

Cue alien seed pods that end up on Earth and begin to proliferate wildly–another deep-seated fear we have about vegetation–that they’ll spread and take over. The seed pods colonize humans, rendering them indifferent and emotionless–exactly the view we’ve always had of plant life, symbol par excellence of encroaching impersonality.

After watching (more than once) the famous 1956 film adaptation, I started Finney’s novel primed to think about the conflict between communism and American individualism. But the novel is actually very…

By Jack Finney,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Invasion of the Body Snatchers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Celebrate one of the earliest science fiction novels by rediscovering Jack Finney’s internationally acclaimed Invasion of the Body Snatchers—which Stephen King calls a story “to be read and savored for its own satisfactions,” now repackaged with a foreword by #1 New York Times bestselling author, Dean Koontz.

On a quiet fall evening in the peaceful town of Mill Valley, California, Dr. Miles Bennell discovers an insidious, horrifying plot. Subtly, almost imperceptibly, alien life-forms are taking over the bodies and minds of his neighbors, friends, family, the woman he loves, and the entire world as he knows it.

First published in…


Book cover of Spectacular Rogue: Gaston B. Means

Mark Arsenault Author Of The Imposter's War: The Press, Propaganda, and the Newsman Who Battled for the Minds of America

From my list on audacious imposters and shameless swindlers.

Why am I passionate about this?

One of the great job benefits of being a newspaper reporter is the wide array of interesting people I get to meet. Not only get to meet but in fact, get paid to meet and to tell their stories. Some of them are famous, and that’s fine. Much more interesting, I think, are the ordinary folk nobody knows who are doing something extraordinary. And then there is a third category that I find most interesting of all: The people who have something to hide. They are mysteries who don’t want to be cracked, and I find them irresistible.

Mark's book list on audacious imposters and shameless swindlers

Mark Arsenault Why did Mark love this book?

I picked up this biography of notorious Jazz-age criminal, conman, and crooked lawman Gaston Means for research on my own book – early in his career Means was a paid German agent who fed information to my subject, newsman John Rathom. But Hoyt’s brilliant book was much more valuable to me than that. It is a master class in how to tell the story of a less-than-wholesome character. Hoyt does not judge Means’ criminal behavior. Instead, his deliciously wry language left me chuckling at the towering ambition of the conman’s greatest schemes. Who else but Gaston Means would think to exploit the kidnapping of the Lindberg baby to con money out of the wealthy socialite who owned the Hope Diamond? 

By Edwin Palmer Hoyt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Spectacular Rogue as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The acclaimed biography of Gaston Bullock Means (1879-1938), an American private detective, salesman, bootlegger, forger, swindler, murder suspect, blackmailer and con artist. While not involved in the Teapot Dome scandal, Means was associated with other members of the so-called Ohio Gang that gathered around the administration of President Warren G. Harding. Means also tried to pull a con associated with the Lindbergh kidnapping, and died in prison following his criminal conviction. He was portrayed by actor Stephen Root in the third and fourth seasons of the TV series Boardwalk Empire, as a kind of confidence man who sells information to…


Book cover of Don't Ask

Mark Arsenault Author Of The Imposter's War: The Press, Propaganda, and the Newsman Who Battled for the Minds of America

From my list on audacious imposters and shameless swindlers.

Why am I passionate about this?

One of the great job benefits of being a newspaper reporter is the wide array of interesting people I get to meet. Not only get to meet but in fact, get paid to meet and to tell their stories. Some of them are famous, and that’s fine. Much more interesting, I think, are the ordinary folk nobody knows who are doing something extraordinary. And then there is a third category that I find most interesting of all: The people who have something to hide. They are mysteries who don’t want to be cracked, and I find them irresistible.

Mark's book list on audacious imposters and shameless swindlers

Mark Arsenault Why did Mark love this book?

Westlake’s unlucky, sad-sack adventure hero John Dortmunder is the greatest conman character in crime fiction. Years ago, at a bookstore coffee shop, I perused some book reviews for what to read next. One reviewer recommended Westlake’s comic caper series. I walked to the mystery section, pulled out Don’t Ask, opened to a random page, read it, and laughed out loud. That was not just good luck: There’s a hilarious passage on nearly every page of the book. It’s about two fictitious nations fighting over a religious artifact, but that does not begin to sum up the zany genius of Westlake’s plot. Donald Westlake was a sort of imposter himself -- he wrote under more than a dozen pen names throughout a spectacular career that spanned half a century.

By Donald E. Westlake,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Don't Ask as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In his latest comic crime caper, Dortmunder is hired to steal a bone, but not any old bone . . .

Dortmunder has a job offer. He's been hired by third parties to pull off heists in the past, but never to lay his hands on anything this peculiar. It is the 800 year old femur of a 16-year-old girl who who, having been killed and eaten by her own family, was made a saint by the Church. Now two European countries and the Catholic church are fighting like dogs over it. This bone, the femur of St Ferghana, is…


Book cover of The Resurrection of the Romanovs: Anastasia, Anna Anderson, and the World's Greatest Royal Mystery

Mark Arsenault Author Of The Imposter's War: The Press, Propaganda, and the Newsman Who Battled for the Minds of America

From my list on audacious imposters and shameless swindlers.

Why am I passionate about this?

One of the great job benefits of being a newspaper reporter is the wide array of interesting people I get to meet. Not only get to meet but in fact, get paid to meet and to tell their stories. Some of them are famous, and that’s fine. Much more interesting, I think, are the ordinary folk nobody knows who are doing something extraordinary. And then there is a third category that I find most interesting of all: The people who have something to hide. They are mysteries who don’t want to be cracked, and I find them irresistible.

Mark's book list on audacious imposters and shameless swindlers

Mark Arsenault Why did Mark love this book?

It was on my favorite TV show as a kid, In Search of… starring Leonard Nimoy, that I first heard of Anna Anderson, the woman who claimed to be Grand Duchess Anastasia, daughter of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia. The tsar was murdered with his entire family in 1918 – or so it was thought. So who was this old woman living in Virginia claiming to be Anastasia? Decades later, I saw the headlines reporting that DNA tests proved Anderson was an imposter, but I never knew one percent of the story before diving into The Resurrection of the Romanovs. Reading along while a mystery from my childhood was so painstakingly solved was great fun. If only now they could find the Loch Ness Monster.

By Greg King, Penny Wilson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Resurrection of the Romanovs as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The truth of the enduring mystery of Anastasia's fate-and the life of her most convincing impostor The passage of more than ninety years and the publication of hundreds of books in dozens of languages has not extinguished an enduring interest in the mysteries surrounding the 1918 execution of the last Russian Tsar Nicholas II and his family. The Resurrection of the Romanovs draws on a wealth of new information from previously unpublished materials and unexplored sources to probe the most enduring Romanov mystery of all: the fate of the Tsar's youngest daughter, Anastasia, whose remains were not buried with those…


Book cover of Lying for Money: How Legendary Frauds Reveal the Workings of Our World

David Gerard Author Of Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain: Bitcoin, Blockchain, Ethereum & Smart Contracts

From my list on cryptocurrency and finance crimes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I started writing about bitcoin and cryptocurrency for the funny dumb crook stories. It was ridiculous and arrogant in a particular way that needed and needs puncturing. Somehow this turned into a second job as a finance journalist specialising in the area. The crypto promoters are reprehensible, but their self-sabotaging foolishness makes their comeuppance extremely satisfying. I feel I’m making the world a better place with this.

David's book list on cryptocurrency and finance crimes

David Gerard Why did David love this book?

Davies’ Lying For Money lays out a taxonomy of fraud, illustrated with amazing stories of real-life frauds.

Per Davies: “A long firm makes you question whether you can trust anyone. A counterfeit makes you question the evidence of your eyes. A control fraud makes you question your trust in the institutions of society and a market crime makes you question society itself.”

Davies’ key trick to spotting a fraud: look at something that’s growing unusually quickly, and examine it in some way it hasn’t been examined before.

Only the second chapter is about cryptocurrency specifically, but understanding how frauds think is fabulously useful in understanding how crypto works. Not even crypto’s frauds are new.

Davies used different stories in the UK and US editions of the book – so get both.

By Dan Davies,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Lying for Money as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Financial crime seems horribly complicated but there are only so many ways you can con someone out of what's theirs. In fact, there are four. A veteran regulatory economist and market analyst, Dan Davies has years of experience picking the bones out of some of the most famous frauds of the modern age. Now he reveals the big picture that emerges from their labyrinths of deceit.

Along the way you'll find out how to fake a gold mine with a wedding ring, a file and a shotgun. You'll see how close Charles Ponzi, the king of pyramid schemes, came to…


Book cover of The Wizard of Lies: Bernie Madoff and the Death of Trust

Alan Prendergast Author Of Gangbuster: One Man's Battle Against Crime, Corruption, and the Klan

From my list on con artists, swindlers, and other big fat liars.

Why am I passionate about this?

My father was a stage magician, and I grew up looking for the gimmick behind the marvel. As a journalist, I gravitated toward true crime and the many varieties of fraud, deception, and misdirection on display in any high-stakes criminal trial. I am particularly fascinated by elaborate cons, whether they involve sideshow mitt readers, political hucksters, or cryptocurrency barons. When I found out that a century ago my hometown was the center of a Big Con operation that raked in millions, I had to learn more. The result is my book Gangbuster

Alan's book list on con artists, swindlers, and other big fat liars

Alan Prendergast Why did Alan love this book?

Out of all the investigative reporting that emerged from the 2008 financial meltdown, Henriques’ account of the scheme that out-Ponzied Ponzi is the book that stays with me.

The Madoff story is about brazen lies and insatiable greed, to be sure, but Henriques’ approach is nuanced, thorough, yet accessible, showing the complacency (one might say complicity) of investors and regulators, dazzled or cowed by Madoff’s magic.

How do you pull off a $65 billion scam? With a lot of help. 

By Diana B. Henriques,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Wizard of Lies as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Who is Bernie Madoff, and how did he pull off the biggest Ponzi scheme in history? In "The Wizard of Lies", Diana B. Henriques of "The New York Times" - who has led the paper's coverage of the Madoff scandal since the day the story broke - has written the definitive book on the man and his scheme, drawing on unprecedented access and more than one hundred interviews with people at all levels and on all sides of the crime, including Madoff's first interviews for publication since his arrest. Henriques also provides vivid details from the various lawsuits, government investigations,…


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