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Drake's Fortune: The Fabulous True Story of the World's Greatest Confidence Artist

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  57 ratings  ·  7 reviews
Over the course of twenty years, from 1914 to 1933, Oscar Hartzell conned millions of dollars from tens of thousands of trusting, innocent people. And when he was caught, they gave him more.

There are no folk heroes more all-American than con artists. Though we may openly condemn them, deep down we admire their brazen bravado, their cleverness, their shrewd understanding of
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Hardcover, 240 pages
Published June 25th 2002 by Doubleday (first published May 21st 2002)
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Meg Koch
May 08, 2020 rated it liked it
Interesting read about a little publicized con of the early 1900's.
Marianne Evans
Dec 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Liars and Believers; what a convoluted mess.
Peter
Feb 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is a very involving account of Oscar Hartzell, a wildly successful Depression-era perpetrator of the long-established "Sir Francis Drake Estate" scam. What amazed me was not so much the scam itself (which was absolutely brilliant), but instead the god-like status that Hartzell's "investors" conferred on him. "Drakism" was practically a cult, with believers who were virtually evangelistic in nature. Another interesting thing is that while Hartzell was living the high life in England, he was ...more
Owen
Feb 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
An amusingly written tale of the greatest con man in American history. That's a bold statement, but the manner with which he amassed money, the way he lived, and the reverent devotion his supporters paid had for him even after his conviction and incarceration is nothing short of unbelievable. One man lived a life of supreme luxury and maintained the con for decades through smiles, brash confidence, and coming to believe his own fiction.
Craig Pittman
Apr 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
An absolute gem. Rayner combines astute reportage, witty writing and his own shady past to both show and explain how a single glib grifter could rip off thousands of Midwesterners during the Depression.
Etel Sverdlov
Mar 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books ever. Incredibly well written and intensely fascinating
Dave Peticolas
The true story of one of the most successful pre-Madoff confidence games ever played, and the strange man who played it.
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Richard Rayner is a British author who now lives in Los Angeles. He was born on December 15, 1955 in the northern city of Bradford. Rayner attended schools in Yorkshire and Wales before studying philosophy and law at the University of Cambridge. He has worked as an editor at Time Out Magazine, in London, and later on the literary magazine Granta, then based in Cambridge.

Rayner is the author of ni
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