King Con: the Bizarre Adventures of the Jazz Age's Greatest Impostor
The spellbinding tale of the king of Jazz Age con artists—a real life cross between Tom Ripley and Jay Gatsby—who risks falling victim to his own dangerous game.
After several thankless years on the vaudeville and medicine circuits, the virtuoso singer, handsome young charmer, and smalltime grifter Edgar Laplante embarked upon the bravura performance that would earn him worldwide fame. In the fall of 1917, he reinvented himself as Chief White Elk: a buckskinned, feathered headdressed war hero, sports star, civil rights campaigner, leader of the Cherokee nation—and total fraud.
Flirting with exposure and jail, Laplante traveled through the American West under the pretense of raising money for struggling Native American reservations. On the trail of even more lucrative opportunities, he crossed the Atlantic for an audience with the British king. Via the decadent nightclubs of Paris, the self-styled Prince Tewanna Rey, Chief White Elk then headed down to the French Riviera, where he instantly captivated a prodigiously rich Austrian countess, who wound up bankrolling his royal tour of Italy, which attracted vast crowds and made him a darling of Benito Mussolini's fascist regime. But Laplante's grandiose overreaching, which propelled him to these improbable heights, soon threatened to send him plummeting back to earth…
King Con brings this previously untold story to vivid and joyously absurd life, offering a lesson in how our longstanding obsession with celebrity can make fools of us all—and proving that sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.
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