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

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The epic true crime story of bootlegger George Remus 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 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 The epic true crime story of bootlegger George Remus 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 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 multimillionaire. The press calls him "King of the Bootleggers," writing breathless stories about the Gatsby-esque events he and his glamorous second wife, Imogene, host 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 is determined to bring him down. Willebrandt's bosses at the U.S. Attorney's office hired her right out of law school, assuming she'd pose no real threat to the cozy relationship they maintain with Remus. Eager to prove them wrong, she dispatches her best investigator, Franklin Dodge, to look into his empire. It's a decision with deadly consequences: With Remus behind bars, Dodge and Imogene begin an affair and plot to ruin him, sparking a bitter feud that soon reaches the highest levels of government--and that can only end 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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The epic true crime story of bootlegger George Remus 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 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 The epic true crime story of bootlegger George Remus 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 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 multimillionaire. The press calls him "King of the Bootleggers," writing breathless stories about the Gatsby-esque events he and his glamorous second wife, Imogene, host 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 is determined to bring him down. Willebrandt's bosses at the U.S. Attorney's office hired her right out of law school, assuming she'd pose no real threat to the cozy relationship they maintain with Remus. Eager to prove them wrong, she dispatches her best investigator, Franklin Dodge, to look into his empire. It's a decision with deadly consequences: With Remus behind bars, Dodge and Imogene begin an affair and plot to ruin him, sparking a bitter feud that soon reaches the highest levels of government--and that can only end 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.

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

  1. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    The Ghosts of Eden Park: The Bootleg King, the Women Who Pursued Him, and the Murder That Shocked Jazz-Age America by Karen Abbott is a 2019 Crown Publishing Group publication. An absorbing and shocking true crime saga!! George Remus is a name I was only moderately familiar with. I knew he was a famous bootlegger during prohibition, but I didn’t know much more than that. I had not familiarized myself with his complex criminal operation or with his personal issues, which included referring to The Ghosts of Eden Park: The Bootleg King, the Women Who Pursued Him, and the Murder That Shocked Jazz-Age America by Karen Abbott is a 2019 Crown Publishing Group publication. An absorbing and shocking true crime saga!! George Remus is a name I was only moderately familiar with. I knew he was a famous bootlegger during prohibition, but I didn’t know much more than that. I had not familiarized myself with his complex criminal operation or with his personal issues, which included referring to himself in third person, and the hint of mental instability. So, I had no idea what to expect when I started reading this book. Well, to say George lived a colorful life is an understatement. As an attorney, he found a way to procure alcohol legally for “medicinal purposes.” This subterfuge allowed him to take control of a large percentage of distilleries. From there he built a very lucrative bootlegging operation which made him quite wealthy, earning him the moniker, “The King of the Bootleggers’. George and his second wife, Imogene, lived a lavish lifestyle, handing out diamonds and cars to their party guests, but the law was not ignorant of his enterprise. Enter Mabel Walker Willebrandt, a prosecutor with the Attorney General’s office, whose job it was to investigate and prosecute violators of the Volstead Act. Mabel Walker Willebrandt This is where the story really gets interesting. One of Wellebrant’s agents, Frank Dodge, was assigned the task of infiltrating Remus’ empire. Frank’s involvement lead to a shocking turn of events that would have made a gripping crime novel. The head spinning twist and turns in this case just goes to show that truth really is stranger than fiction… Imogene Remus Since Truman Capote spoiled us with his ‘True Crime Novel’, any other approach to this ‘genre’ can be mind numbingly dry. Yet, Karen Abbott has employed a new technique which I thought worked out quite well. The book is written in the standard chronological format- thank goodness, as I’ve never seen nonfiction work out when someone gets creative with the timeline. The research is also noteworthy as the author had access to thousands of pages of transcripts. Naturally, this requires exceptional organizational skill, and Ms. Abbot did a phenomenal job with so much material. George Remus There are many people involved in this tale, and unlike fiction, where the author has control over the number of characters involved in the plot, the author didn’t have that same luxury when it came to writing nonfiction. Still, I thought Abbott handled it nicely, including all the key players in this saga without allowing it to slow down the momentum. In fact, the book is very fast paced, and held my interest all throughout. Frank Dodge As one will gather from the title, bootlegging is not the only crime at play. A murder is eminent which is where Abbot applies one truly unique and clever trick- Unless one already knows how this story plays out, the victim and the murderer remain a secret until the killing transpires in real time. Abbott keeps us on the edge of our seat, building the suspense and keeping one guessing like this was a fictional murder mystery. Then there is that stunning trial! The prosecutor was Charles Phelps Taft II, son of William Howard Taft. But you will have to read this book to believe how it concluded. It’s one of the most insane trials I’ve ever read about from this era. Talk about putting on a show! I admit, by the time I turned the final page, I was shaking my head in disbelief. This is one bizarre story and will take readers on a wild roller coaster ride through prohibition and the politics of the day. But mostly this is one of the most entertaining true crime books I’ve read. 5 stars

  2. 4 out of 5

    Joshilyn Jackson

    I have read all of Abbott's books, even though I am primarily a fiction reader. I love them because they read like novels. This one reads like a literary legal thriller. It has some INSANE twists. I love that things actually happened that would break my suspension of disbelief in fiction. The truth really is stranger. Well drawn characters, gorgeous writing, and a murder mystery? Yes, please. Highly recommended.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Karen Rush

    The Ghosts of Eden Park Karen Abbott Karen Abbott brilliantly pieces together this page-turner through meticulous resource and without any fictional dialogue. With so much chronicled information, I suspected this might be a dry journaling of events but no, far from it! It is a rich narrative, a captivating story about a volatile time in American history that involved widespread corruption amongst a who’s who of politicians, judges, law enforcement and civilians. So many wanted a piece of the The Ghosts of Eden Park Karen Abbott Karen Abbott brilliantly pieces together this page-turner through meticulous resource and without any fictional dialogue. With so much chronicled information, I suspected this might be a dry journaling of events but no, far from it! It is a rich narrative, a captivating story about a volatile time in American history that involved widespread corruption amongst a who’s who of politicians, judges, law enforcement and civilians. So many wanted a piece of the bootlegging action. Each major character either good or bad was masterfully depicted by Abbott and fascinating to follow. Day to day business included maneuvering, extortion, bribery, backstabbing, and an incomprehensible volume of money - mind-boggling! It was difficult choosing my favorite character as I was as fascinated by the good guys as well as the bad. Mabel Walker Willenbrandt, the ‘First Lady of Law’ was an inspiration. George Remus, pharmacist, lawyer and bootlegger was one heck of a visionary. A genius with unpredictable anger, insane jealousy and misplaced trust, I was gobsmacked by his story. One of the best non-fiction books I have read!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    Competently executed yet disappointingly dull. I have greatly enjoyed Abbott’s other work and expected this to be a slam dunk. Unfortunately, I found myself bored of the narrative and apathetic about the subject matter. Generally speaking, bootlegging and Prohibition are not topics that lend themselves particularly well to narrative nonfiction. They certainly *seem* like they should (largely because fiction has done such a good job with this topic), but the sad fact is that money and (temporary) Competently executed yet disappointingly dull. I have greatly enjoyed Abbott’s other work and expected this to be a slam dunk. Unfortunately, I found myself bored of the narrative and apathetic about the subject matter. Generally speaking, bootlegging and Prohibition are not topics that lend themselves particularly well to narrative nonfiction. They certainly *seem* like they should (largely because fiction has done such a good job with this topic), but the sad fact is that money and (temporary) criminal success don’t necessarily make a subject worthy of being immortalized on the proverbial page. Such is the case with the subjects of this particular narrative. Remus is certainly a savvy businessman, but he’s also mentally unstable and not much of an intellectual, even if you concede he had some decent street smarts. Even that feels worthless though, since by the end of his tale he’s barely comprehensible. Imogene seems like a nasty opportunist rather than the clever con woman who finally snaps that the book seems to want her to be. Abbott’s writing and research are both good, but the choice of subject matter feels ill-advised. While the story has some interesting moments, it simply isn’t compelling enough to warrant an entire book. This could have been a great long form article, but as a book it feels indulgent and excessive. *I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.*

  5. 5 out of 5

    ♥ Sandi ❣

    3.5 stars This book is hard for me to review, due to two reasons - first, I read it in starts and stops and secondly, although very well researched, it became boring in spots. However, it is due back to the library today, so I lack the time to ponder or procrastinate. Gangsters, bootleggers, crime and corruption, and all in the Midwest. That is what drew me to the book. And there was plenty of that for the taking. The star of this book was George Remus, multimillionaire and known as the "King of 3.5 stars This book is hard for me to review, due to two reasons - first, I read it in starts and stops and secondly, although very well researched, it became boring in spots. However, it is due back to the library today, so I lack the time to ponder or procrastinate. Gangsters, bootleggers, crime and corruption, and all in the Midwest. That is what drew me to the book. And there was plenty of that for the taking. The star of this book was George Remus, multimillionaire and known as the "King of the Bootleggers". With most of the local police in his pocket, a mansion in Cincinnati and a rebellious wife, Imogene, George owned a third of all liquor in the United States. Then with George in prison, Imogene decides to take him off his throne and she sells off most of his millions. The result - murder. This is non-fiction and very well researched. It takes you through a time and place that is little known to most people. This story of prohibition took place before even Al Capone was notorious. It tells of the rise of George Remus, his life with his wife Imogene, and through his trial. Then also of the aftermath of his imprisonment. Boring in spots when the details over ran the story, and entertaining in learning the history of Remus and his bootlegging days.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Natasha Niezgoda

    HAPPY PUB DAY!!!!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Robert Sheard

    Americans have long been fascinated with Prohibition and bootleggers, so it's no surprise that a story about one of the biggest bootleggers would bring such attention. Throw in a domestic murder as well and you have the makings of what should have been a spell-binding read. Unfortunately, this book doesn't really get there. Abbott's research is extensive and meticulous, but I think that might actually have hampered the storytelling. So much secondary and tertiary information gets included that Americans have long been fascinated with Prohibition and bootleggers, so it's no surprise that a story about one of the biggest bootleggers would bring such attention. Throw in a domestic murder as well and you have the makings of what should have been a spell-binding read. Unfortunately, this book doesn't really get there. Abbott's research is extensive and meticulous, but I think that might actually have hampered the storytelling. So much secondary and tertiary information gets included that the narrative drive fails miserably in the second half of the book. All we're left with is legal details and court shenanigans. I wanted to love this one, but ultimately I was disappointed and it became a chore to finish.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Toni

    This is a must read in Cincinnati, where I’ve lived for the past 27 years. Great city btw. I combined ebook and audio, which I like to do occasionally, depending on the book. This audio was great so I switched over half way through. Alternating male and female narrators added to the appeal of listening and sparking the content. Facts and entertaining drama entwined for great historical content we must “keep alive.” Must read for true crime fans.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Susannah

    Sexy, smart, compulsively readable -- and expertly researched.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Peter Tillman

    Harold Schechter at the WSJ found it a "hugely entertaining work of popular history": https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-ghos... (as always, I'm happy to email a copy to non-subscribers) Excerpts: George Remus, a pharmacist & lawyer, found a loophole in the Volstead act "that permitted licensed pharmacists, such as himself, to legally acquire liquor for “medicinal purposes.” Within a year, he owned “35 percent of all the liquor in the United States.” The tabloids would crown him “King of the Harold Schechter at the WSJ found it a "hugely entertaining work of popular history": https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-ghos... (as always, I'm happy to email a copy to non-subscribers) Excerpts: George Remus, a pharmacist & lawyer, found a loophole in the Volstead act "that permitted licensed pharmacists, such as himself, to legally acquire liquor for “medicinal purposes.” Within a year, he owned “35 percent of all the liquor in the United States.” The tabloids would crown him “King of the Bootleggers.” He got very, very rich. The author "describes a New Year’s Eve bash hosted by the Remuses at which“cigars were lit with $100 bills, and party favors consisted of gold watches and diamond stick pins for the men and, for each lady in attendance, a brand-new Pontiac." Remus's nemesis was Mabel Walker Willebrandt, an assistant Attorney General in charge of enforcing Prohibition. "Willebrandt—who began each day with an ice-cold bath and kept a framed quote by Cotton Mather on her office wall for inspiration—set about pursuing the nation’s leading bootleggers, with George Remus at the top of her list." OK, I'm in. Let's see what others here have to say. . . .

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kitty Jay

    There are times when you hear of people who had such an enormous impact on the course of history that you wonder how you never heard of them before. George Remus, and his pursuer, Mabel Willebrandt, are two such people. George Remus, at one time known as the "King of the Bootleggers", owned as much as 35% of all liquor in the United States during Prohibition. Given to excess and outpourings of emotion, coupled with an erratic, but nonetheless successful, business acumen, he built an extensive There are times when you hear of people who had such an enormous impact on the course of history that you wonder how you never heard of them before. George Remus, and his pursuer, Mabel Willebrandt, are two such people. George Remus, at one time known as the "King of the Bootleggers", owned as much as 35% of all liquor in the United States during Prohibition. Given to excess and outpourings of emotion, coupled with an erratic, but nonetheless successful, business acumen, he built an extensive network of graft and corruption in order to build his empire. Willebrandt was the associate attorney general of the United States, the highest office a woman had held in the federal government at the time, and a woman of stern convictions and ambition, who - while not personally a great proponent of Prohibition - nonetheless vowed to prosecute offenses of it with all her power. The story follows Remus's meteoric rise as a conman pharmacist, then lawyer, and finally bootlegger, who threw parties of such extravagance that would make Trimalchio blush. Women were gifted with brand new Pontiacs and men with diamond watches as "party favors". A mansion was purchased and he encouraged his wife, Imogene, to furnish it with the top-of-the-line decor. It also follows his tumultuous relationship with Imogene, who comes out fairly poorly in the story; she is portrayed as a calculating, unfaithful gold-digger only interested in the finer things in life. Remus is eventually prosecuted by Willebrandt for his bootlegging operations, and the story follows his time in prison and Willebrandt's top agent, Frank L. Dodge, Jr., beginning an affair with Imogene. The events unravel slowly but surely toward their inevitable end, culminating in a court case that captured the public's eye. A slew of familiar names crop up: Clarence Darrow, J. Edgar Hoover, and George Remus's spiritual successor, Al Capone. With the same accomplished sleight of hand as a magician, Abbott most clearly demonstrates the effortless dexterity of a writer in the information she reveals. Her earlier accounts, through Remus's cronies and associates, of Remus's behavior leads to a clear portrait of a man that is quickly upset when the trial begins. (view spoiler)[At a crucial moment, Abbott lowers new information: Remus once defended a case of a man who killed his wife, and was let off by virtue of temporary insanity. The criteria which he used to establish that insanity align perfectly with Remus's own behavior, casting a pall of doubt over the entire case. (hide spoiler)] For all the tales of extravagance and theatrics, however, George Remus took second stage for me in comparison to the estimable Mabel Willebrandt. A shrewd lawyer with a calculating instinct, Willebrandt proved crucial in America's history with Prohibition, even successfully campaigning to rule that bootleggers must report their ill-gotten and illegal profits on their taxes, which would ultimately nab the infamous Al Capone. Abbott's writing is effortless, spinning a well-researched, thoughtful story that showcases what a talented writer of historical non-fiction must do: the characters are presented as fully as can be done with historical records, and Abbott holds her cards close to her chest. Some doubt is thrown on Willebrandt's true relationship with Dodge, for instance, but speculation is kept to a minimum. Even Remus is treated with the same objectivity, and the writer must decide for him or herself, just as the public did, what the true story was. Every time the reader may have leaned one way, Abbott reveals another source that forces doubt. As much a story about the time period, one of conspicuous consumption, corruption and graft, and modernity and femininity, as the people in it, The Ghosts of Eden Park is a fascinating look at some mostly forgotten characters of a bygone era. ETA: There is one error that should be noted - on page 47, it says that $1000 bills were hidden under the plates of dinner guests at the unveiling of the Imogene Pool, but on page 169, it says $100 bills. One hopes this error is noted or corrected in the final release. NB: This advanced reader copy was furnished by the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review. Yay!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Beth Cato

    I received an advance ebook via NetGalley. I never cease to be amazed by the innovations and machinations perpetuated by bootleggers during Prohibition, and wow does this book bring an incredible drama to light. George Remus was a corporate powerhouse out of Cincinnati. Once a lawyer known for courtroom histrionics, he switched his focus to dominating the illicit liquor trade throughout the Midwest. He accumulated incredible wealth and prestige, masterminding some third of bootleg operations I received an advance ebook via NetGalley. I never cease to be amazed by the innovations and machinations perpetuated by bootleggers during Prohibition, and wow does this book bring an incredible drama to light. George Remus was a corporate powerhouse out of Cincinnati. Once a lawyer known for courtroom histrionics, he switched his focus to dominating the illicit liquor trade throughout the Midwest. He accumulated incredible wealth and prestige, masterminding some third of bootleg operations within America, and becoming one of the largest employers in the entire region. He also acquired a bride: Imogene, who soon became his business partner. But after Remus is nabbed by the Feds and sent to lock-up in Atlanta, Imogene begins an affair with a Prohibition agent and begins to systemically unravel her husband's luxurious household and his business operation--and unravel Remus's very sanity. He had never been a stable man to begin with, and Imogene's betrayal sends him over the edge... resulting in murder and one of the most sensational trails of the era and a legal and moral test of "guilty by reason of insanity." Also, I absolutely loved reading about Mabel Walker Willebrandt, U.S. Assistant Attorney General throughout the 1920s. She was the very definition of a woman surviving by grit and wit within a man's world. I need to read more about her. This book is astonishing. It reads with the ease and intensity of a thriller, in part because the author's fantastic research included full dialogue from all of the major players. People speak in their own words, including Remus, who had a tendency to speak of himself in the third person. As a research geek myself, I can only respect in and be delighted by another author going through such intense labor, and it works to great success. I think my only complaint is that the book ended up far shorter than I anticipated. The ebook's content actually ended at 64%, with the rest of the pages consisting of footnotes and bibliography. I highly recommend this read for anyone interested in the period of Prohibition.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Bruce Perrin

    A Tale of Bootlegging, Betrayal, and Murder Diluted in the Telling The Ghosts of Eden Park is set in the Jazz Age in the United States. It was a time of great change—women received the right to vote; fashion, music, and social norms were being transformed; and alcohol became illegal. Into this setting, insert George Remus, a lawyer turned bootlegger who quickly amassed a vast fortune by finding loopholes in the new Prohibition laws. Opposing Remus was Mabel Walker Willebrandt, appointed as US A Tale of Bootlegging, Betrayal, and Murder Diluted in the Telling The Ghosts of Eden Park is set in the Jazz Age in the United States. It was a time of great change—women received the right to vote; fashion, music, and social norms were being transformed; and alcohol became illegal. Into this setting, insert George Remus, a lawyer turned bootlegger who quickly amassed a vast fortune by finding loopholes in the new Prohibition laws. Opposing Remus was Mabel Walker Willebrandt, appointed as US Assistant Attorney General with responsibility for enforcing Prohibition. Fresh out of law school, few expected her to upset the benign indifference shown by most politicians; they were wrong. Remus was convicted and sentenced to prison. His second wife, Imogene, betrayed him with one of Willebrandt’s agents, Franklin Dodge, and they stole much of his fortune. And then, the histrionics Remus showed in the courtroom became more prevalent and much more violent. But was it insanity, or just a ruse to defend himself in his own trial for killing Imogene? With all this grist for a spellbinding tale, I expected one; unfortunately, it never quite materializes. The text and dialog pulled from court records and other documents reflect the style of the time, e.g., somewhat wooden compared to today’s standards. But that same stilted feel continues into the rest of the book. Perhaps that was intentional, but it reduces the pace to the point of plodding. The story is not presented succinctly. As an example, during Remus’s murder trial, several witnesses were called to testify about the night Remus discovered that his mansion had been stripped of its valuables. Each witness, however, gives a different date. And after several pages of this same story, the author reveals that the lawyers were trying to prove Remus was staging his ‘discovery’ of the theft over and over, so he could fly into a rage at his wife’s betrayal for each new audience. One well-written paragraph could have replaced several pages of repetition. The basic sequence of events is also confusing, when segments from court transcripts representing a different time are inserted between chapters. And digressions into the personal and professional lives of characters only loosely related to the story feel like filler. I did enjoy the insight the book provided on several tangential topics—the excesses of Remus’s Gatsby-esque lifestyle, the treatment of the rich in the penal system, the concept of insanity in the legal system, among others. And I came to greatly admire the stamina and vision of a past US Assistant Attorney General. To accomplish what Wllibrandt did during the Prohibition Era was truly amazing. But as for a riveting story of betrayal and murder in the matter of George Remus? That was difficult to find. I was given a free copy of this book. I elected to write this candid review.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    I typically don't read a lot of true crime, but I found the synopsis intriguing. I am certainly glad that I read this book! The Ghosts of Eden Park focuses on the career of pharmacist, lawyer, and bootlegger George Remus and his wife Imogene and their relationship as Remus gains notoriety as the "King of Bootleggers." The success that George Remus has makes him very wealthy, with he and his wife often bestowing very valuable gifts upon the pair's dinner party guests. Remus' operation catches the I typically don't read a lot of true crime, but I found the synopsis intriguing. I am certainly glad that I read this book! The Ghosts of Eden Park focuses on the career of pharmacist, lawyer, and bootlegger George Remus and his wife Imogene and their relationship as Remus gains notoriety as the "King of Bootleggers." The success that George Remus has makes him very wealthy, with he and his wife often bestowing very valuable gifts upon the pair's dinner party guests. Remus' operation catches the attention of the federal government and George Remus is ultimately convicted of violations of the Volstead Act and sentenced to prison. While imprisoned, Franklin Dodge is sent by Mabel Willebrandt, a prosecutor in the Attorney General's office, to infiltrate Remus' criminal enterprise, and an illicit affair begins between he and Imogene Remus. The prison sentence along with his wife's betrayal lead to Remus' deteriorating mental state, culminating in him taking Imogene Remus' life the morning of their court date for a divorce settlement. What ensues is a 6 week trial where Remus, who often refers to himself in the third person, defends himself. Alienists have declared him sane, but based on numerous outbursts and breaks with reality between his discovering his wife's infidelity and the trial, referred to as "brainstorms," is he really insane or is it all a show? You can clearly tell that this book is very well researched and highly detailed. To me, the story never lagged and read more like crime fiction or a legal thriller to me. This story was told in such a way that makes the reader feel as though you were right there as it was unfolding. I really enjoyed it and learned many things about this era in American history. My thanks to Crown Publishing, Karen Abbott, and NetGalley for gifting me an e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  15. 4 out of 5

    George

    TRUE CRIME AND THE CRAZINESS OF AN ERA “If George Remus, the accused, is insane, was he in a fit condition to employ George Remus as attorney? Furthermore, if George Remus the attorney is insane, does he not disqualify himself from representing George Remus the accused?” (p. 238). The Eighteenth Amendment (and the Volstead Act), prohibiting the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages in the United States (1920-1933) were two of the most insane, malicious, and unsuccessful bits of legislation TRUE CRIME AND THE CRAZINESS OF AN ERA “If George Remus, the accused, is insane, was he in a fit condition to employ George Remus as attorney? Furthermore, if George Remus the attorney is insane, does he not disqualify himself from representing George Remus the accused?” (p. 238). The Eighteenth Amendment (and the Volstead Act), prohibiting the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages in the United States (1920-1933) were two of the most insane, malicious, and unsuccessful bits of legislation ever enacted. They also ushered in the Roaring 20s, the age of speakeasies and bootlegging. Karen Abbott’s story, The Ghosts of Eden Park: The Bootleg King, the Women Who Pursued Him, and the Murder That Shocked Jazz-Age America tells the story of George Remus, a highly intelligent man and one of the most successful bootleggers in the mid-west, who had his own experiences with craziness. And murder. Recommendation: True crime buffs, and Prohibition fans, should find this story interesting and entertaining. I did “He was ‘a psychopath…unmoral, lacking a sense of ethics, emotionally unstable, being subject to unrestrained outbursts of temper and rage and egocentric to a pathological degree.’” (p. 302). Crown/Archetype. Kindle Edition. 406 pages (including extensive endnotes)

  16. 5 out of 5

    Carole

    A page turner that reads like fiction that strains believability. Full of colorful characters, including admired and coddled bootleggers, corrupt government agents, a conniving and vengeful wife, and an ambitious female Justice Department official trying to protect her reputation. There is madness, murder and mayhem. That it all really happened is the surprising part. Abbott succeeds in creating the atmosphere of the times. While the book could have been a little more compact, you will learn A page turner that reads like fiction that strains believability. Full of colorful characters, including admired and coddled bootleggers, corrupt government agents, a conniving and vengeful wife, and an ambitious female Justice Department official trying to protect her reputation. There is madness, murder and mayhem. That it all really happened is the surprising part. Abbott succeeds in creating the atmosphere of the times. While the book could have been a little more compact, you will learn about the culture of the times and enjoy the adventure of this story.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ronnie Cramer

    A well-researched if sometimes laborious account of a 1920s murder. The book includes plenty of interesting historical information but the events never seem to get tied together adequately.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    A real page-turner, this non-fiction book is filled with zany characters like disbarred attorney and wildly successful bootlegger George Remus, whose unpredictable behavior, both in the courtroom and out, caused a sensation in 1920's Cincinnati.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    Haley had been hoping for more bootlegging hijinks, however Haley was delighted to learn about the phenomenal contributions that a German immigrant made to this country; Remus fought a tyrannical government run amok passing arbitrary laws imposed on a law abiding, fun loving, partying population. Prost Remus!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ronald Koltnow

    To be published by Crown in August 2019 Fans of the HBO program BOARDWALK EMPIRE may recall an odd presence named Remus, George Remus. He always referred to himself in the third person. George Remus was an historical figure, a leading bootlegger in Ohio and a colorful character, as Abbott's fine bio points out. He may have been the model for Fitzgerald's Gatsby. Abbott, known for her previous studies of the Everleigh Sisters and Gypsy Rose Lee, does not go the usual bio route. Early on, Remus has To be published by Crown in August 2019 Fans of the HBO program BOARDWALK EMPIRE may recall an odd presence named Remus, George Remus. He always referred to himself in the third person. George Remus was an historical figure, a leading bootlegger in Ohio and a colorful character, as Abbott's fine bio points out. He may have been the model for Fitzgerald's Gatsby. Abbott, known for her previous studies of the Everleigh Sisters and Gypsy Rose Lee, does not go the usual bio route. Early on, Remus has become a pharmacist, a bootlegger, and an over-night success. The book centers on Remus's love for, marriage to, and betrayal by his beloved Augusta Imogene Brown Holmes. Suffice it to say that the marriage, although tempestuous, does not end well. Abbott's secondary focus is on a woman I suspect few of of us know, Mabel Walker Willebrandt, the first woman Assistant Attorney General of the US. Willebrandt, who monitored the prohibition cases for the AG's office, was zealous in her pursuit of Remus, assigning her best man, Franklin Dodge to the case. Therein lies the rub. Warren G. Harding, Albert Fall, and young J. Edgar Hoover all play roles in the history, but it is the quadrangle of Remus-Imogene-Willebrandt-Dodge that drives this wonderfully researched narrative. Abbott's prose is clear, concise, and sharp, with nary an overdone sentence in the whole book. It is a model of true crime writing.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Darcia Helle

    The Prohibition era fascinates me and, given the added murder and intrigue, I expected to love this book. And so I was surprised at how hard I had to work to stay focused and get through this one. I kept putting it down, with little desire to pick it back up again. The first two-thirds of the book reads like dry research. While some of the facts are interesting, much of it feels tedious. The people involved never come alive on the pages. I didn't feel the mood or ambiance of the era. The final The Prohibition era fascinates me and, given the added murder and intrigue, I expected to love this book. And so I was surprised at how hard I had to work to stay focused and get through this one. I kept putting it down, with little desire to pick it back up again. The first two-thirds of the book reads like dry research. While some of the facts are interesting, much of it feels tedious. The people involved never come alive on the pages. I didn't feel the mood or ambiance of the era. The final third of the book takes us through the murder trial. This part brings us an entertaining courtroom drama. While this is not my favorite nonfiction book covering aspects of the Prohibition era, it's an interesting story if you can stick with it. *I received a review copy from the publisher, via Amazon Vine.*

  22. 5 out of 5

    Debbie

    This true-crime story reads like a great murder mystery. It will have you hooked from the start. Wonderful research that pulls you right into the story. 1921, George Remus - a bootlegging lawyer/millionaire during the prohibition Jazz age. A female prosecutor, Mabel Walker Willebrandt is put in the position because the corrupt US Attorney's office didn't think she would pose a threat to their relationship with Remus. She will prove them wrong. You will feel you are there - The tension, greed, This true-crime story reads like a great murder mystery. It will have you hooked from the start. Wonderful research that pulls you right into the story. 1921, George Remus - a bootlegging lawyer/millionaire during the prohibition Jazz age. A female prosecutor, Mabel Walker Willebrandt is put in the position because the corrupt US Attorney's office didn't think she would pose a threat to their relationship with Remus. She will prove them wrong. You will feel you are there - The tension, greed, and flair of The Ghosts of Eden Park makes this the best Non-Fiction book of the summer!

  23. 4 out of 5

    TMcB

    Excellent piece of historical non-fiction that reads like a legal thriller. It’s the story of George Remus, a former Chicago pharmacist and then criminal defense lawyer, who decides shortly after the adoption of the Volstead Act (Prohibition), to set up shop in Cincinnati and use his knowledge of the law (along with the legal distribution of alcohol for pharmaceutical purposes) as he sought his fortune as a bootlegger. He was soon known as the “King of the Bootleggers” and lived an ostentatious, Excellent piece of historical non-fiction that reads like a legal thriller. It’s the story of George Remus, a former Chicago pharmacist and then criminal defense lawyer, who decides shortly after the adoption of the Volstead Act (Prohibition), to set up shop in Cincinnati and use his knowledge of the law (along with the legal distribution of alcohol for pharmaceutical purposes) as he sought his fortune as a bootlegger. He was soon known as the “King of the Bootleggers” and lived an ostentatious, Gatsbyesque lifestyle while evading the long arm of the law for a time. It’s also the story of Mabel Walker Willebrandt, perhaps the preeminent female lawyer of her day, who as head of the Justice Department’s office of Prohibition Enforcement relentlessly pursues Remus. There are many other memorable true-life characters (including J Edgar Hoover) and enough legal twists & turns to make your head spin. Betrayal, murder, insanity, a murder trial featuring a witness like famed Scopes Monkey Trial lawyer, Clarence Darrow, also play into this fascinating story. Highly recommended.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Laurel

    Well researched, Abbott tells the story of George Reums, a bootleg king in 1920s Chicago. Just as Gatsby did, Remus created the character he became- a highly sought rumrunner living in opulence off the money he made. Until he got caught. Into this mix are his wife, Imogene who begins to sell Remus' property while he is in jail. She is supported in her efforts by the undercover agent who was sent to spy on her and her husband. This true story brings to light a shard of life during prohibition, Well researched, Abbott tells the story of George Reums, a bootleg king in 1920s Chicago. Just as Gatsby did, Remus created the character he became- a highly sought rumrunner living in opulence off the money he made. Until he got caught. Into this mix are his wife, Imogene who begins to sell Remus' property while he is in jail. She is supported in her efforts by the undercover agent who was sent to spy on her and her husband. This true story brings to light a shard of life during prohibition, and it's impact on American citizens. Not knowing this story I found it interesting as it read like a work of fiction. I felt Imogene and Remus were portrayed well, but the other characters didn't shine as much on the page.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Becky Loader

    Who knew that Cincinnati, Ohio, was such an important center of bootlegging during Prohibition? I didn't. It makes total sense, since the city is just across the Beautiful Ohio River from Kentucky, where the whiskey abundance is astronomical. George Remus is a bootlegger. A major bootlegger. He creates a complex system for moving liquor through pharmacies based on "medicinal" use. Along the way, he gets into a major amount of trouble dealing with government officials just as corrupt as he is. Who knew that Cincinnati, Ohio, was such an important center of bootlegging during Prohibition? I didn't. It makes total sense, since the city is just across the Beautiful Ohio River from Kentucky, where the whiskey abundance is astronomical. George Remus is a bootlegger. A major bootlegger. He creates a complex system for moving liquor through pharmacies based on "medicinal" use. Along the way, he gets into a major amount of trouble dealing with government officials just as corrupt as he is. Lots of side plots, lots of local color, and meticulous research by the author.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    The Ghosts of Eden Park: The Bootleg King, the Women Who Pursued Him, and the Murder That Shocked Jazz-Age America by Karen Abbott This book is about the early days of prohibition and George Remus, a German immigrant, pharmacist, lawyer and bootlegger, who within two years is worth millions. He now lives in a Cincinnati mansion with his second wife, Imogene, holding lavish parties and giving of expensive gifts to all the hundred of guests. Living so well can only draw attention to him and why he The Ghosts of Eden Park: The Bootleg King, the Women Who Pursued Him, and the Murder That Shocked Jazz-Age America by Karen Abbott This book is about the early days of prohibition and George Remus, a German immigrant, pharmacist, lawyer and bootlegger, who within two years is worth millions. He now lives in a Cincinnati mansion with his second wife, Imogene, holding lavish parties and giving of expensive gifts to all the hundred of guests. Living so well can only draw attention to him and why he has so much money. Mabel Walker Willebrandt, at the time only the second woman to receive an appointment to Assistant Attorney General and responsible for enforcing the 18th Amendment (Prohibition Act), is determined to bring Remus to justice. Willebrandt sends FBI agent Franklin Dodge to investigate Remus. With Remus in prison, Dodge begins an affair with Imogene and they plot to get all of Remus’ wealth. Soon the plot sparks a scandal that reaches the highest levels of the government and of course a murder. The authors writing style of integrating actual trial testimony with the narrative of the story and brings the reader along making the story so intriguing that the book is almost impossible to but down. I recommend this book.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea

    Prohibition at it’s finest I love history. This is the second book I’ve read by her. I really enjoyed this. All the fact checking and true bits of history are fascinating to me. It is so hard to believe that the assistant attorney general was a woman in that era. The things she must have gone through. Along with just being a woman her educated and having to deal with men. Plus just the amount of bootleggers. George Remus was so paying off every person he could to get where he wanted to be. It is Prohibition at it’s finest I love history. This is the second book I’ve read by her. I really enjoyed this. All the fact checking and true bits of history are fascinating to me. It is so hard to believe that the assistant attorney general was a woman in that era. The things she must have gone through. Along with just being a woman her educated and having to deal with men. Plus just the amount of bootleggers. George Remus was so paying off every person he could to get where he wanted to be. It is so sad the way people existed .

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    Fascinating. Page-turner. Truth is stranger than fiction. I had never heard of George Remus, a predecessor of Al Capone (nor did I google him before reading the book). The book is well researched, easy to read and recommended if you enjoy reading about historical figures. From the book: “In the court room daily he smiles at his well-trained witnesses. Many people are already saying, ‘Remus can get away with murder.’ He often told Mother and I that he could get away with anything.” But could he, Fascinating. Page-turner. Truth is stranger than fiction. I had never heard of George Remus, a predecessor of Al Capone (nor did I google him before reading the book). The book is well researched, easy to read and recommended if you enjoy reading about historical figures. From the book: “In the court room daily he smiles at his well-trained witnesses. Many people are already saying, ‘Remus can get away with murder.’ He often told Mother and I that he could get away with anything.” But could he, really?

  29. 4 out of 5

    Smart Bookaholics Inc Bookstore

    First, I've never read anything from Karen Abbott but I can't wait to after reading this! Coming into this I knew nothing of George Remus, now I know his whole life story! I'm always leary of reading true stuff! The writing kept me engaged and this book was a great adventure! Here's the link to buy it: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07MYL9T8N/...

  30. 4 out of 5

    Alessandra Gutierrez

    An incredible story about America’s most ruthless bootlegger. George Remus was one of the most dangerous and manipulative gangsters in history, and I am stunned that little is commonly known about him. This book covers his crimes and infamous court case - - the outcomes are incredibly SHOCKING. Key players in the criminal investigations and court case include Prosecutor Charlie Taft (son of President William Howard Taft), Mabel Walker Willebrandt (Asst. Atty. General), & rising star J. Edgar An incredible story about America’s most ruthless bootlegger. George Remus was one of the most dangerous and manipulative gangsters in history, and I am stunned that little is commonly known about him. This book covers his crimes and infamous court case - - the outcomes are incredibly SHOCKING. Key players in the criminal investigations and court case include Prosecutor Charlie Taft (son of President William Howard Taft), Mabel Walker Willebrandt (Asst. Atty. General), & rising star J. Edgar Hoover, among others. A story I will not soon forget. It will haunt me for a while.

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