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A Most Wicked Conspiracy: The Last Great Swindle of the Gilded Age

Paul Starobin

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A tale of Gilded Age corruption -- gold-looting, court-buying, and good old fashioned venality -- that extended from the new frontier of Alaska to the Oval Office.

In the feverish, money-making age of railroad barons, political machines, and gold rushes, corruption was the rule, not the exception. Yet the Republican mogul 'Big Alex' McKenzie's audacity was remarkable. Charismatic and shameless, he arrived in the recently purchased Alaskan territory with a federal district judge in his pocket, intent on claiming stewardship over any ambiguously claimed gold mines and promptly draining them of all of their ore. Working-class miners who had rushed to the frozen tundra to strike gold were appalled at his open greed and disregard for maintaining even the pretense of good faith. A Most Wicked Conspiracy tells the story of McKenzie's misdeeds, the resistance of the wronged miners, and the way the scandal captured the national spotlight -- with the press eager to show how America's political and economic life was in the grip of domineering, self-dealing, seemingly-untouchable party bosses in cahoots with robber barons, Senators and even Presidents. These events resonate well into the 21st century. At the core is an eternal question: should the law be a tool of the rich and the powerful for the accomplishment of their nefarious schemes, or an impartial force for justice from which no person can escape?

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