The Embezzler, first written in 1966, uses conflicting narrative voices and viewpoints to illuminate the fabled dimensions of American economic history as it was then understood. Inspired by the documented facts of the Wall Street fraud case that led the United States government to take control of the American stock market, Auchincloss then describes the case and its main players with credibility and skill, reinventing the facts of this historical event with skill. Given the financial crisis of 2008, and similar fraudulent schemes that have been exposed since, this is must reading.
The Embezzler tells the life story of Guy Prime, who was born into wealth, enjoyed his youth, and eventually ended up in prison after he tried to secure loans against money he did not have and his embezzlements were revealed. Whatever the reasons for his gradual lapse into crime and his eventual disgrace, Guy Prime remains one of Louis Auchincloss's most engaging characters. Guy's gravest flaw appears not to be greed but rather a chronic tendency to misread human character. The story itself is told from three different viewpoints and narrators. Auchincloss's multi-narrator technique allows the reader to have a vivid sense of what transpired. This is classic Auchincloss, on a subject that illumines current events.