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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 true crime story of bootlegger George Remus and the murder that shocked the nation. 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 The true crime story of bootlegger George Remus and the murder that shocked the nation. 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.


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The true crime story of bootlegger George Remus and the murder that shocked the nation. 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 The true crime story of bootlegger George Remus and the murder that shocked the nation. 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.

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 hims 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

    Diane S ☔

    Before Al Capone is known, a German immigrant, George Remus sees the many opportunities Prohibition offers and seizes the chance. Although he was currently working as a lawyer he becomes the king of the bootleggers. In a few years, he and his wife Imogene amass a fortune. The best cars, clothes, s huge mansion in Cincinnati with all the best furnishing. Remus even has a swimming pool built just for Imogene. This massive display if wealth comes to the attention of Mabel Willebrandt, a woman, one o Before Al Capone is known, a German immigrant, George Remus sees the many opportunities Prohibition offers and seizes the chance. Although he was currently working as a lawyer he becomes the king of the bootleggers. In a few years, he and his wife Imogene amass a fortune. The best cars, clothes, s huge mansion in Cincinnati with all the best furnishing. Remus even has a swimming pool built just for Imogene. This massive display if wealth comes to the attention of Mabel Willebrandt, a woman, one of only s few, in charge of prosecuting these notorious bootleggers. She sends her investigator Dodge, a huge mistake as it provides the impetus for all that follows, including the nurse. Narrative non fiction, easy to follow, well researched and quite interesting. Jazz age excess and crime, seems to go hand in hand. Such an interesting time period. The descriptions are vividly portrayed and one gets s good sense of the characters and their motives. Hearing actual parts of the trial was an added bonus. The narrators were Rob Shapiro and Cassandra Campbell who I thought were excellent. I'm not sure I would have enjoyed reading this book a ps much as I did by listening to the audio.

  3. 5 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.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Anne Bogel

    I appropriately picked up this book last fall at the Cincinnati literary festival Books by the Banks. At the time, I didn't realize the book was set in the area! In this true crime tale, Abbott sets out the story of George Remus, a teetotaler who built a whiskey empire during Prohibition, and was so successful that at one point he controlled 30% of the liquor consumed during that time. I felt like I was reading about a real-life Jay Gatsby: the real-life details about Remus's wild parties were u I appropriately picked up this book last fall at the Cincinnati literary festival Books by the Banks. At the time, I didn't realize the book was set in the area! In this true crime tale, Abbott sets out the story of George Remus, a teetotaler who built a whiskey empire during Prohibition, and was so successful that at one point he controlled 30% of the liquor consumed during that time. I felt like I was reading about a real-life Jay Gatsby: the real-life details about Remus's wild parties were unbelievable! A truth-is-stranger-than-fiction epic from the Jazz Age.

  5. 4 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.*

  6. 4 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.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Tucker (TuckerTheReader)

    Many thanks to Crown Publishing for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review This wasn't that interesting to me. It wasn't horrible but I've read better true crime novels | Goodreads | Blog | Pinterest | LinkedIn | YouTube | Instagram Many thanks to Crown Publishing for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review This wasn't that interesting to me. It wasn't horrible but I've read better true crime novels | Goodreads | Blog | Pinterest | LinkedIn | YouTube | Instagram

  8. 4 out of 5

    Karen R

    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 boot 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!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Susannah

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

  10. 4 out of 5

    Natasha Niezgoda

    HAPPY PUB DAY!!!!

  11. 4 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 t 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 4 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 Bootlegg 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. . . .

  14. 5 out of 5

    Cassandra Yorke

    This visceral, colorful account of the rise and fall of George Remus instantly won a special place in my heart. Not only is it meticulously researched and breathtakingly told, but Karen Abbot truly brings 1920s Cincinnati to life - or maybe she takes you back to it, just for a little while. She somehow captures the wistful longing of a time long gone, and captures all the optimism, tragedy, and vague sadness of that decade as beautifully as F. Scott Fitzgerald did. I'm keeping this as close to m This visceral, colorful account of the rise and fall of George Remus instantly won a special place in my heart. Not only is it meticulously researched and breathtakingly told, but Karen Abbot truly brings 1920s Cincinnati to life - or maybe she takes you back to it, just for a little while. She somehow captures the wistful longing of a time long gone, and captures all the optimism, tragedy, and vague sadness of that decade as beautifully as F. Scott Fitzgerald did. I'm keeping this as close to my writing space as I do Gatsby and Flappers and Philosophers. I don't know that I've ever been taken back in time like this. If it means anything, this book set me alight with its beauty and helped spark the inspiration to finish my debut novel, "Mary, Everything". And the book's ending is a perfect coup de grace.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Grumpus

    The grumpus23 (23-word commentary) Life story of The King of Bootleggers. While in prison, wife has affair with government agent. Someone is murdered. Insane? Read to decide.

  16. 5 out of 5

    patrick Lorelli

    A book with really many different stories inside all dealing with prohibition. You have George Remus who first divorces his first wife, marries second wife Imogene. Because he has a pharmacist license, he was allowed to purchase liquor. This was for medical purposes but he saw a way to make money out of it and did he ever. Within a few years of their marriage, the two of them were living in a mansion, with the top of the line in everything. They would also have very elaborate parties that were o A book with really many different stories inside all dealing with prohibition. You have George Remus who first divorces his first wife, marries second wife Imogene. Because he has a pharmacist license, he was allowed to purchase liquor. This was for medical purposes but he saw a way to make money out of it and did he ever. Within a few years of their marriage, the two of them were living in a mansion, with the top of the line in everything. They would also have very elaborate parties that were over the top as well. This would go on until 1925 when he was finally sent to prison. The person fighting him and the rest of the nation was Mabel Willebrandt. She was a U.S. Assistant Attorney General from 1921-1929. Her story was very fascinating, her working for the government was very frustrating. She got help in words only. She had to fight even when her office took someone to court. A judge dismissed a charge of tax evasion with evidence when just years later Capone would go to prison for the same charge. Her real big trouble was agents working for her and the bootleggers. One turned out to flip himself after they put him in the prison as Remus who had not fallen for that trick until Franklin Dodge got the information he needed and instead of going back to his office he went to Imogene. Who then divorced Remus, or began to? She did sell the Fleishman distillery then gave her ex $100.00 dollars. That only pissed him off, for he knew how much he had and of the sell. Miss. Willebrandt equally frustrated because she lost an agent and when a new president was elected thinking she would become Attorney General; she was passed over for a male. Once Remus was out of prison he went after his soon to be ex and where the story takes a wicked turn, he chases her in a park with his car and shots her twice. She dies, when he goes to trial, he pleads insanity and goes to an institution therefore when he is thought not to be crazy cannot try him again or double jeopardy. He gets away with murder. Of course, there is so much more to this story. How they evaded raids. Having tunnels built how he himself controlled 30% of the liquor that Americans were drinking up until 1925. That is amazing. Also, the story of Miss Willebrandt for me was very good and I don’t know if a book was ever written about her but she sounded like a powerful woman for that time. Overall an excellent story, very much worth the read. I received this book from Netgalley.com I gave it 5 stars. Follow us atwww.1rad-readerreviews.com

  17. 5 out of 5

    Dawn

    Such a fascinating tale. Almost unbelievable. Great writing and storytelling. I enjoyed getting a glimpse into Prohobition and the good/evil side of it. I've read one other book by this author and loved it as well.

  18. 4 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 ne 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!

  19. 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 with 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.

  20. 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 Ass 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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)

  24. 5 out of 5

    Susie Chocolate

    A true crime story about the famous bootlegger & subsequent murderer, George Remus all set in the USA in the prohibition era. Incredibly well researched and how could a history book be so riveting, well it was! I listened to an audio version which was fabulously done. I learned so much about this misfortunate era in US history and goggled the history for this era and learned so much about key historical figures and the ridiculousness of the “Volstead Act” which set Prohibition into place. Gangste A true crime story about the famous bootlegger & subsequent murderer, George Remus all set in the USA in the prohibition era. Incredibly well researched and how could a history book be so riveting, well it was! I listened to an audio version which was fabulously done. I learned so much about this misfortunate era in US history and goggled the history for this era and learned so much about key historical figures and the ridiculousness of the “Volstead Act” which set Prohibition into place. Gangsters, court room drama, roaring 20’s parties, Speakeasies, jail life and so much more. Prohibition in the United States was a nationwide constitutional ban on the production, importation, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages from 1920 to 1933. I hadn’t realized that Prohibition spanned 13 years. What a waste of time and resources!

  25. 4 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 abo 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.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    A most interesting time of excess and colorful characters; and they are unique characters. Against a backdrop of Prohibition and the accompanying corruption we gain an inside account of the “bootlegger Gatsby” and his trials and tribulations and a most interesting federal prosecutor, Mabel Walker Willebrandt, who was hired out of law school and expected to show no threat to the graft in place but ended up incredibly effective as assistant U.S. Attorney. Overall three and a half stars, four stars A most interesting time of excess and colorful characters; and they are unique characters. Against a backdrop of Prohibition and the accompanying corruption we gain an inside account of the “bootlegger Gatsby” and his trials and tribulations and a most interesting federal prosecutor, Mabel Walker Willebrandt, who was hired out of law school and expected to show no threat to the graft in place but ended up incredibly effective as assistant U.S. Attorney. Overall three and a half stars, four stars on Good Reads. It was harder to read in print than expected - even for non-fiction; so three stars in print but meticulously researched and presented up to three and a half stars and fully four stars audio. I really enjoyed listening to the book, excellent narration.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Joey Bean

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. An interesting account of a Cincinnati bootlegger who got away with murder. Sympathies abound for this large, local personality. George Remus was a smart, passionate, and social individual who enjoyed luxuries for himself and those in his circle. However, he missed the mark on reaching high Cincinnati society, which he would have preferred. Remus teetered between sanity and insanity. If you enjoy historical nonfiction that reads like a novel you'll like this book.

  28. 4 out of 5

    C. S.

    Recommended for fans of the genre Historical People Behaving Outrageously. Well written and clearly well researched, this book still unfortunately hasn't clicked for me the couple of times I've picked it up to read. You can't win 'em all.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    Crazy story! Reads like fiction because it's so compelling yet unbelievable at the same time. Great Cincinnati and Prohibition history.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jan Williamson

    I listened to this as an audio book, the narrators are excellent. The Ghosts of Eden Park is an engrossing story, and it is always fun to read or listen to a book that is set in a place or city that I am familiar with (Cincinnati).

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