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
CD - unabridged
Audio (12 discs)
Product Number: DD19017
Released: May 01, 2012
Business Term: Purchase
ISBN: #9781452605395
Narrator/s: Robertson Dean
Publisher: Tantor Media, Inc
Please log in to view pricing


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, 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.

All formats/editions

Author(s): Geoffrey C. Ward
Narrator(s): Robertson Dean
Product Number Z100028866
Released: May 01, 2012
Business Term: Purchase
Publisher: Tantor Media, Inc
ISBN: #9781452625393
Author(s): Geoffrey C. Ward
Product Number EB00173169
Released: Dec 27, 2013
Business Term: 2 Year
Publisher: Vintage
ISBN: #9780307959447

Professional reviews

"Today's headlines are full of stories of huge losses by banks and investment schemes gone bad, but listening to the astonishing swindles of Ferdinand Ward, "the Bernie Madoff of the Gilded Age," puts the fascinatingly similar scandals into a historical context. Narrator Robertson Dean's smooth, deep voice takes us easily and directly into this biography of the author's great grandfather. Dean, as the author's voice, allows the facts to provide the sensationalism--little embellishment is needed. When quotes from letters or newspaper accounts are read, they're distinct from the narrative. The details of the swindles, bribes, and chicanery are drama enough. Engaging accounts of American history and culture (HORATIO'S DRIVE, A FIRST-CLASS TEMPERAMENT, and his collaborations with Ken Burns) are author Ward's mŽtier. Here, Dean assures their success as an audiobook. R.F.W. (c) AudioFile 2012, Portland, Maine"

Sign up for our email newsletter