Anansi's Gold: The Man Who Looted the West, Outfoxed Washington, and Swindled the World (Hardcover)

Anansi's Gold: The Man Who Looted the West, Outfoxed Washington, and Swindled the World By Yepoka Yeebo Cover Image
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(TRUE CRIME)

Description


A New York Times Notable Book of the Year * Named one of the best books of the year by The New Yorker, NPR, Newsweek, and TIME

"Catch Me if You Can meets Coming to America in this epic tale of one of the greatest scammers of all time."—NPR

The astounding, never-before-told story of how an audacious Ghanaian con artist pulled off one of the 20th century’s longest-running and most spectacular frauds.

When Ghana won its independence from Britain in 1957, it instantly became a target for home-grown opportunists and rapacious Western interests determined to snatch any assets that colonialism hadn’t already stripped. A CIA-funded military junta ousted the new nation’s inspiring president, Kwame Nkrumah, then falsely accused him of hiding the country’s gold overseas.

Into this big lie stepped one of history’s most charismatic scammers, a con man to rival the trickster god Anansi. Born into poverty in Ghana and trained in the United States, John Ackah Blay-Miezah declared himself custodian of an alleged Nkrumah trust fund worth billions. You, too, could claim a piece--if only you would “invest” in Blay-Miezah’s fictitious efforts to release the equally fictitious fund. Over the 1970s and ‘80s, he and his accomplices—including Ghanaian state officials and Nixon’s former attorney general--scammed hundreds of millions of dollars out of thousands of believers. Blay-Miezah lived in luxury, deceiving Philadelphia lawyers, London financiers, and Seoul businessmen alike, all while eluding his FBI pursuers. American prosecutors called his scam “one of the most fascinating--and lucrative--in modern history.”

In Anansi’s Gold, Yepoka Yeebo chases Blay-Miezah’s ever-wilder trail and discovers, at long last, what really happened to Ghana’s missing wealth. She unfolds a riveting account of Cold War entanglements, international finance, and postcolonial betrayal, revealing how what we call “history” writes itself into being, one lie at a time.

About the Author


Yepoka Yeebo 's work has appeared in the Guardian, Huffington Post, the Atlantic, Bloomberg Businessweek and Quartz, among other publications. A graduate of Queen Mary, University of London and of Columbia University's School of Journalism, she divides her time between Accra, London and New York. Anansi's Gold is her first book.

Praise For…


“[T]his little-known story unfolds like Catch Me if You Can.” —The Washington Post

“Reading Anansi's Gold is like watching a heist movie … all about improvisation, unforced error, unlikely escape.” —Dan Piepenbring, Harper's

“Yepoka Yeebo's riveting Anansi's Gold traces the outlines of Blay-Miezah's life, shedding light on how he perpetrated his deceptions for years while living in incredible opulence. The author delves into archives across the Atlantic, digs up criminal proceedings and conducts interviews with victims and associates alike, in the process telling us not just about Blay-Miezah, but about the world that enabled him to thrive.” —New York Times Book Review

“Skillfully interweaves archival material, F.B.I. records, and interviews to recount the saga of [a] con man's career, and to reflect on how lies can be leveraged in the creation of national histories.” —The New Yorker

“The sprawling story of Blay-Miezah's outsize life and wayward career is told with mordant aplomb by first-time author Yepoka Yeebo … While [the book] reflects a daunting amount of research, it reads like a picaresque novel … Compelling.” —The Wall Street Journal

“A wild tale . . . Yeebo's substantial research - based on interviews, archives, government reports, and the like - is nothing less than awe inspiring, and her prose is careful and self-assured, often outraged, sometimes dryly amused . . . Anansi's Gold is a fascinating story brilliantly told.” —The Boston Globe

“In her thrilling new book, Yepoka Yeebo tells the jaw-dropping story of a man behind a scam called 'one of the most fascinating – and lucrative – in modern history' … the ever-proliferating grifter-lit bookshelf is on the verge of collapsing under its own weight, but Yeebo's contribution to the category stands out … meticulously researched.” —The Guardian

“A wild, juicy ride.” —Los Angeles Times

“Stylish and substantive, Yepoka Yeebo's Anansi's Gold is a non-fiction masterpiece, artfully weaving Blay-Miezah's remarkable exploits into the fabric of history. Highly recommended.” —The Philadelphia Inquirer

“Rigorously researched and beautifully written.” —CrimeReads

“In this absorbing true crime narrative, Yeebo details the fascinating story of this audacious con artist.” —Town & Country

“A wild, you-can't-believe-it's-true story that offers a portrait of not just a conniving huckster but also a portrait of Ghana in transition. While all of this happened in the 1970s and 1980s, the Ponzi scheme and the nefarious backdoor dealings feel disquietingly topical, making it an even more powerful read.” —Amazon Book Review

"Absorbing . . . A colorful, eye-opening account." —Newsweek, Favorite Books of 2023

“Even as [Yeebo] catches readers up in what often reads like a breathless caper, the author takes care to ground them in what matters most: Ghana and its sadly 'fragile' history … Utterly absorbing.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“[A] thrilling true-crime debut that reverberates on the world stage . . . a story that any writer of heist flicks would envy . . . Readers will devour the gripping story of a lie that became a country's founding myth.” —Shelf Awareness (starred review)

“Brilliantly illuminates the stranger-than-fiction career of Ghanaian fraudster John Ackah Blay-Miezah in this thrilling true-crime account.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“An illuminating story about greed and post-independence Ghana . . . Remarkable.” —Financial Times

“Riveting . . . a welcome addition to the canon on great swindlers.” —The Economist

“Five stars. Fabulously entertaining.” —Telegraph

“Richly entertaining … [Yeebo] has a sharp eye for droll detail [and] … deftly marshals a florid cast of characters.” —Times Literary Supplement

“Yeebo [writes] in elegant prose, bringing complex detail, vivid background color, and an extensive cast into her compelling narrative … Pulls no punches.” —Literary Review

“How long until this book becomes an HBO miniseries starring Isiah Whitlock Jr.? Only time will tell.” —The Millions

“A thrilling dive into the fact and fiction of a legendary scammer . . . exquisite, well-researched.” —OkayAfrica

“Well-researched and engaging, [Anansi's Gold] draws readers into the intricate web of lies about a trust-fund tall tale that spanned throughout the 1970s and '80s and across the globe. Readers who enjoy true crime and stories about cons will quickly be absorbed into Yeebo's first book.” —Library Journal

“With Anansi's Gold, Yepoka Yeebo has achieved something remarkable, brilliantly reframing the independence era under Ghana's Kwame Nkrumah, while vividly illuminating the tawdriness of its aftermath with an unforgettable tale of corruption. This is African history and storytelling of the first order.” —Howard W. French, author of BORN IN BLACKNESS

“This captivating story of a gifted con artist and his abettors is not only a sheer pleasure to read, but also a profound inquiry into how a lie becomes a legend. Yepoka Yeebo contends with a history shrouded in forgetting and a protagonist who trailed falsehoods in his wake. Her tenacious reporting and relentless pursuit of truth are nothing short of heroic.” —Kirk Wallace Johnson, author of THE FEATHER THIEF

“An unflinching look at history that illuminates both the past and the present. Meticulously and impressively researched, Anansi's Gold is a sharply written and highly engaging account of Blay-Miezah's life, of politics and society in Ghana, and of the rapaciousness and cruelty of colonization and of external involvement in Africa. An essential work by a great writer.” —Peace Adzo Medie, author of HIS ONLY WIFE

“Anansi's Gold is as gripping as a heist movie, with a sparkling cast and a plot that is stranger than fiction. Yepoka Yeebo tells a tale from another time, but in an era of fake news and too-good-to-be-true cryptocurrency scams, it feels thrillingly contemporary.” —Tom Standage, author of A HISTORY OF THE WORLD IN 6 GLASSES

“This hugely important and riveting book tells a true story of avarice and ambition that is centered on Ghana but reveals a web of lies and deceit on a vast international scale. At the heart of this utterly compelling narrative is a theme of real urgency today: the political and social dangers and the terrible harm caused by the deliberate falsification of the past.” —Susan Williams, author of WHITE MALICE

“This astonishing book reveals not just Ghana's history as you've never read it before, but some of the most important global events of the twentieth century. An impressive feat.” —Afua Hirsch, author of BRIT(ISH)



Product Details
ISBN: 9781635574739
ISBN-10: 1635574730
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Publication Date: August 1st, 2023
Pages: 400
Language: English