Karen Abbott, “The Ghosts of Eden Park”


Manage episode 245068604 series 1137365
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October 24, 2019 at the Boston Athenæum. In the early days of Prohibition, long before Al Capone became a household name, a German immigrant named George Remus quit practicing law and started trafficking whiskey. Within two years he was a multi-millionaire. The press called him “King of the Bootleggers,” writing breathless stories about the Gatsby-esque events he and his glamorous second wife, Imogene, hosted at their Cincinnati mansion, with party favors ranging from diamond jewelry for the men to brand-new Pontiacs for the women. By the summer of 1921, Remus owns 35 percent of all the liquor in the United States. Pioneering prosecutor Mabel Walker Willebrandt was determined to bring him down. Willebrandt’s bosses at the Justice Department hired her right out of law school, assuming she would pose no real threat to the cozy relationship they maintained with Remus. Eager to prove them wrong, she dispatched her best investigator, Franklin Dodge, to look into his empire. It was a decision with deadly consequences. With the fledgling FBI on the case, Remus was quickly imprisoned for violating the Volstead Act. With her husband behind bars, Imogene began an affair with investigator Dodge. Together, they plotted to ruin Remus, which sparked a bitter feud that soon reached the highest levels of government–and ended in murder. Combining deep historical research with novelistic flair, The Ghosts of Eden Park is the unforgettable, stranger-than-fiction story of a rags-to-riches entrepreneur and a long-forgotten heroine, of the excesses and absurdities of the Jazz Age, and of the infinite human capacity to deceive.

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