The riveting, forgotten narrative of the most corrupt attorney general in American history and the maverick senator who fought to take him down
The Jazz Age is famous for scandal and corruption. But perhaps its greatest political fiasco—one that resulted in a nationwide scandal, a reckoning at the department of justice, the rise of J. Edgar Hoover, and an Oscar-winning film—has been lost to the annals of history. In Crooked, Nathan Masters restores this story of murderers, con artists, secret lovers, spies, bootleggers, corrupt politicians to its full, page-turning glory for readers of Erik Larson, David Grann, and Candice Millard.
Newly elected to the senate on a promise to root out corruption, Burton "Boxcar Burt" Wheeler sets his sights on Harry Daugherty, President Harding's attorney general and the puppet-master behind the nascent FBI. Daugherty was famously corrupt, doing whatever it took to keep his boss in power, including taking kickbacks from bootleggers and bribes for drilling rights. And he had only recently been under an uncomfortable spotlight when his constant companion and trusted fixer, Jess Smith, was found dead of a gunshot wound in the apartment the two men shared, exposing the rot consuming the Harding administration to a shocked public.
Wheeler promises the truth and delivers a public spectacle that would set the stage for the next century of American political scandals. He subpoenas a rogue’s gallery of witnesses—ex-cons, bootleggers, disgraced government officials—seeking to expose the attorney general’s treachery and solve the riddle of Jess Smith’s suspicious death. But with the muckraking senator hot on his trail, Daugherty turns to his greatest weapon, the Bureau of Investigation (soon to be called the FBI), whose eager second-in-command, J. Edgar Hoover, sees an opportunity in chaos.
Packed with political intrigue, Jazz Age scandal, and no shortage of lessons for our modern era of political discord, Nathan Masters delivers a thrilling historical narrative that sets the record straight on how America learned to love political scandal.
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