10 February 2005
Published by Atlantic Books
Jabez, as he was universally known, was a business man, philanthropist, politician, temperance campaigner and charmer. He was also an astonishing scoundrel – a liar, adulterer and cheat – who perpetrated the most destructive fraud of the nineteenth century. When the Liberator building society collapsed under the weight of its own extravagant malpractice, thousands of people were left defrauded and destitute. Jabez, the Liberator’s moving spirit, immediately took flight to Argentina, accompanied (scandalously) by a female ward half his age. Eventually, a determined Scotland Yard detective caught up withJabez, and kidnapped him on a high-speed train across South America from whence he was hauled back to justice.
David McKie’s account of the rise and fall of this charismatic swindler brings the man and the times trumpeting to life.McKie describes the massive charm offensives, the growth and collapse of the vast Jabez empire, his scandalous escape and dramatic extradition, and the sensational show trail that followed.