Fraud: An American History from Barnum to Madoff



In this book, you will learn the history of fraud in America and the evolving efforts to combat it – from the age of P.T. Barnum through the eras of Charles Ponzi and Bernie Madoff.

Starting from the days of “buyer beware” in the early nineteenth century, "Fraud: An American History from Barnum to Madoff" describes the gradual construction of regulatory institutions to protect consumers and investors – from the Gilded Age through the New Deal and the Great Society. It concludes with the recent era of deregulation, which has brought with it costly frauds, including the savings and loan crisis, corporate accounting scandals and the subprime mortgage crisis.

Product Details

ISBN 978-0-691-16455-7
Hardcover, 496 PAGES

Table of Contents:

  • List of Illustrations ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Part I: Duplicity and the Evolution of American Capitalism
  • Chapter One: The Enduring Dilemmas of Antifraud Regulation 3
  • Chapter Two: The Shape-Shifting, Never-Changing World of Fraud 14
  • Part II: A Nineteenth-Century World of Caveat Emptor(1810s to 1880s)
  • Chapter Three: The Porousness of the Law 43
  • Chapter Four: Channels of Exposure 75
  • Part III: Professionalization, Moralism, and the Elite Assault on Deception (1860s to 1930s)
  • Chapter Five: The Beginnings of a Modern Administrative State 107
  • Chapter Six: Innovation, Moral Economy, and the Postmaster General's Peace 143
  • Chapter Seven: The Businessmen's War to End All Fraud 174
  • Chapter Eight: Quandaries of Procedural Justice 208
  • Part IV: The Call for Investor and Consumer Protection (1930s to 1970s)
  • Chapter Nine: Moving toward Caveat Venditor 245
  • Chapter Ten: Consumerism and the Reorientation of Antifraud Policy 285
  • Chapter Eleven: The Promise and Limits of the Antifraud State 316
  • Part V: The Market Strikes Back (1970s to 2010s)
  • Chapter Twelve: Neoliberalism and the Rediscovery of Business Fraud 353
  • List of Abbreviations 385
  • Notes 387
  • Index 471