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  • Brand: Crown
  • Theme: Music Related
  • UPC: 9780451495815
  • Item #: 2094851X
  • Available Date: 8/7/2018
  • Model Number: 9780451495815
List Price: $27.00
Price: $21.46
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The spellbinding tale of virtuosic hustler Edgar LaPlante, aka Chief White Elk—a real-life Tom Ripley whose greatest talent, even through his comeuppance, was his inability to give up the con.

For Edgar LaPlante, a charming and charismatic vaudeville performer, the summer of 1923 was the prelude to one of the 20th century’s most extraordinary adventures—an adventure that would require all his theatrical flair to deliver what would turn out to be the most demanding and lucrative performance of his life. To raise money for his fraudulent campaign to help starving children on Native American Indian reservations, LaPlante reinvented himself as a Cherokee warlord named Chief White Elk, touring small towns yet addressing enormous crowds, before decamping to Europe. As he made his way across the Continent, he joined the fast-living expatriate set, befriending F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife, Zelda.

At a casino in Nice, he found his next mark: a wealthy Austrian countess. They became lovers, and LaPlante conned her out of a limousine, servants, and the equivalent of $101 million in today’s currency. LaPlante cultivated the friendship of the Pope and the recently installed Italian fascist dictator, Benito Mussolini. Il Duce treated him like royalty, staging banquets and even a military procession in his honor. Most improbably, LaPlante managed to install himself as a delegate to the League of Nations.

But after the countess’s stepson hired a private detective to investigate Chief White Elk, LaPlante was imprisoned in Rome. Yet he maintained the charade, even upon his release, refusing to remove the mask he had worn for so long, in spite of all the damning evidence. Meticulously researched yet imbued with novelistic verve, King Con is the bizarre story of a man whose life became his best performance.

About the Author

London-based Paul Willetts has written several books to high acclaim in the U.K., and writes frequently for The Independent, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, and The Times Literary Supplement. King Con is his American debut.

Product Details

  • With black & white images
  • Hardcover: 365 pages
  • Publisher: Crown
  • True Crime / Hoaxes & Deceptions