Publication Date: 03/08/2023 ISBN: 9781526668578 Category:

Anansi’s Gold

Yepoka Yeebo

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Publication Date: 03/08/2023 ISBN: 9781526668578 Category:




A New York Times, New Yorker, Washington Post, Newsweek, TIME Book of the Year 2023
‘Fabulously entertaining’ Daily Telegraph
‘Perfect for fans of Frank Abignale Jr.’s Catch Me If You Can’ Publishers Weekly
The astounding, never-before-told story of how an ingenious Ghanaian con artist ran one of the 20th century’s longest and most audacious frauds.

When Ghana declared independence from Britain in 1957, it immediately became a target for opportunists determined to lay hold of whatever assets colonialism hadn’t already stripped. The military ousted the new nation’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah, then falsely accused him of stealing the country’s gold and hiding it overseas.

Into this story stepped one of history’s most charismatic scammers, John Ackah Blay-Miezah – a con man to rival the trickster god Anansi. Born into poverty, Blay-Miezah declared himself the custodian of an alleged Nkrumah trust fund worth billions. You, too, could claim a piece, if only you would help him rescue it – with a small investment. Over the 1970s and ’80s, he grew his scam to epic proportions, amassing hundreds of millions of pounds from thousands of marks all over the world. He baffled Henry Kissinger, scandalised Shirley Temple-Black, and had Nixon’s former attorney-general at his beck and call. Many tried to stop him, but Blay-Miezah continued to live in luxury, protected by ex-SAS soldiers while he deceived lawyers, businessmen and investigators around the globe.

In Anansi’s Gold, Yepoka Yeebo chases the ever-wilder trail of Blay-Miezah – and unfolds a riveting account of Cold War entanglements and African dreams – revealing the untold story of the grifter who beat the West at its own thieving game.

Publisher Review

Through meticulous and shrewd reporting, Yeebo breaks down the many reasons why Blay-Miezah's claims were too enticing for even the most sophisticated marks to ignore . . . Anansi's Gold is an enthralling rags-to-stolen-riches story, a thrilling true-crime caper, and a sharp indictment of a world that allows scammers like Blay-Miezah to thrive * TIME, The 100 Must-Read Books of 2023 * Fabulously entertaining . . . like all good biographies of artists, Yeebo's book conveys the uniqueness of his personality while also showing how his art was forged in, and fed the requirements of, the times in which he lived -- Jake Kerridge * Daily Telegraph * 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' . . . meticulously researched * Guardian * 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: 100 Notable Books of 2023 * The remarkable story of John Ackah Blay-Miezah, a charismatic Ghanaian huckster who for two decades masterminded what she plausibly calls "one of the greatest con artists of all time" . . . The book is crisp and well-told, brimming with vivid scenes and colourful writing -- Aanu Adeoye * Financial Times * This compelling story of a charismatic conman who fooled thousands . . . This is a glorious tale of greed, exploited by an astonishingly brazen fraudster -- Ian Birrell * Spectator * Blay-Miezah is a contender for the world's greatest con artist . . . Ms Yeebo had to dig tenaciously to reveal the full story . . . Anansi's Gold is a welcome, if belated, addition to the canon on great swindlers * Economist * As Yepoka Yeebo makes clear in her richly entertaining account of [Blay-Miesah's] rise and fall, he combined charisma and a silver tongue, attracting both the greedy and the idealistic . . . She has a sharp eye for droll detail and is especially successful in evoking the two decades that followed independence - a glitzy but sleazy world of nightclubs and casinos "where the champagne flowed, even when the electricity did not" -- Henry Hitchings * Times Literary Supplement * Reading Anansi's Gold is like watching a heist movie in agonising slow motion. It's all about improvisation, unforced error, unlikely escape * Harper's * Journalist Yeebo brilliantly illuminates the stranger-than-fiction career of Ghanaian fraudster John Ackah Blay-Miezah (1941-1992) in this thrilling true-crime account . . . Yeebo's details and research are beyond meticulous, and she spins her central con artist into a charismatic lead. This is perfect for fans of Frank Abignale Jr.'s Catch Me If You Can * Publishers Weekly * Anansi's Gold is an unflinching look at history that illuminates both the past and the present. It is meticulously and impressively researched. This book is sharply written and is a highly engaging and readable 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 of history by a great writer -- Peace Adzo Medie 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 This debut by a ferociously talented journalist draws on years of reporting as it tells the "astounding", hitherto untold story of ingenious Ghanaian con artist John Ackah Blay-Miezah * The Bookseller * 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 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 * This hugely important and riveting book tells a true story of avarice and ambition that is centred 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 In this absorbing true crime narrative, Yeebo details the fascinating story of this audacious con artist * Town & Country * Chases an infamous Ghanian conman, John Ackah Blay-Miezah, who pulled off one of the 20th century's longest-running frauds, living in luxury, fooling everyone, and making millions, all while evading the FBI for years. How long until this book becomes an HBO miniseries starring Isiah Whitlock Jr? Only time will tell * Millions * As Yeebo reveals in elegant prose, bringing complex detail, vivid background colour and an extensive cast into her compelling narrative, the Oman Ghana Trust Fund never existed and the tale of Nkrumah's secret offshore fortune was a lie -- Martin Vander Weyer * Literary Review * This captivating story of a gifted con artist and his international network of abettors is not only a sheer pleasure to read, but also a profound inquiry into how a lie can become a legend. Yepoka Yeebo's tenacious reporting and relentless pursuit of the truth are nothing short of heroic -- Kirk Wallace Johnson This is the story of one of the world's greatest, but least famous, con artists. Ghana's John Ackah Blay-Miezah bilked investors on several continents by promising he knew the location of lost gold. Exhaustive reporting by the author makes this a riveting and welcome addition to the canon on super-swindlers * Economist: Best Books of 2023 * 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 * In the 1970s and '80s, John Ackah Blay-Miezah and his accomplices - including Richard Nixon's former attorney general John Mitchell - fooled people into investing hundreds of millions of dollars in an alleged Ghanaian trust fund. One of the greatest con men ever, Blay-Miezah lived in luxury and eluded authorities across the globe. Here his little-known story unfolds like Catch Me if You Can * Washington Post * Dr. John Ackah Blay-Miezah told investors he could access Kwame Nkrumah's Oman Ghana Trust Fund, billions of dollars the country's first president had supposedly funneled to Swiss banks. He was a classic fraudster, neither a doctor nor operating under his real name. But Ghanaian journalist Yeebo takes it to another level, tracing Blay-Miezah's scams to the lies of British colonial administrators who toppled Nkrumah. It's a juicy, wild ride * Los Angeles Times * Yepoka Yeebo has achieved something truly 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 French 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 * Philadelphia Inquirer * An expansive true crime chronicle * New York Magazine * The sprawling story of Blay-Miezah's outsize life and wayward career is told with mordant aplomb by first-time British-Ghanaian author Yepoka Yeebo . . . While Anansi's Gold reflects a daunting amount of research, it reads like a picaresque novel -- Frank Gannon * Wall Street Journal * Yepoka Yeebo tells the fascinating story of the person she calls "perhaps the greatest con man of the twentieth century" - and it's a wild tale indeed, brought to life by Yeebo's intricate research and compelling prose . . . Yeebo does a phenomenal job explaining how one lie took on a life of its own, one that still hasn't ended. Yeebo's substantial research ... 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 -- Michael Schaub * Boston Globe * [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 * Skilfully interweaves archival material, FBI 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 * New Yorker: The Best Books of 2023 * Catch Me if You Can meets Coming to America in this epic tale of one of the greatest scammers of all time * NPR: Books We Love 2023 * Absorbing . . . A colourful, eye-opening account * Newsweek: Favourite Books of 2023 * Never has there been a better or more entertaining illustration of the old adage that you can't con an honest man * Slate: The 10 Best Books of 2023 *

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