A Debonair Scoundrel: An Episode in the Moral History of San Francisco

A Debonair Scoundrel: An Episode in the Moral History of San Francisco

by Lately Thomas

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Originally published in 1962, this book tells the flamboyant story of Abe Ruef and San Francisco’s infamous era of graft.

In the year 1906, San Francisco was rocked by two calamitous earthquakes. Nature herself was responsible for one; a man named Ruef was responsible for the other.

Abraham Ruef (1864-1936), known as Abe Ruef, was a rogue of innumerable refinements. A classical scholar, a wit, a bon vivant, he was also a political boss who not only picked the city’s officials—among them, “Handsome Gene” Schmitz, San Francisco’s “bassoon mayor”—but picked the city’s pockets as well. When he was finally arraigned for graft, Ruef attempted to appoint himself District Attorney to prosecute the case!

In A Debonair Scoundrel, Lately Thomas reconstructs the little known but fantastic career and its gaudy, dramatic setting: a city thrown into wild disorder; fighting in the courts reeking with corruption; kidnappings, and flying bullets with overtones of slapstick comedy and suspense.

The men who saw to Ruef’s undoing were relics of a bygone West: millionaire Rudolph Spreckels, who tried to reform his own class; Fremont Older, the Evening Bulletin crusading editor—and others, such as Teddy Roosevelt and William Randolph Hearst.

Their encounter with Abe Ruef is wittily described by Lately Thomas, author of The Vanishing Evangelist, who has brought his magnificently creative gifts to a book as brilliant and rambunctious as the fabulous era he describes.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781789121278
Publisher: Papamoa Press
Publication date: 04/03/2018
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 389
File size: 11 MB
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About the Author

Lately Thomas was the pseudonym of Robert V. Steele (1898-1977), an American writer. Born in Waterbury, Connecticut, his father was a Methodist minister and later a general church officer. Steele briefly served in the U.S. Marine Corps (1918-1919), but did not see overseas action. In 1955, he was employed by the Los Angeles Times and, in this position, began investigating the career of the famous American evangelist preacher Aimee Semple McPherson. The story of her 1926 so-called kidnapping affair was told in Steele’s book The Vanishing Evangelist, first published in 1959, which marked the first time Steele used the pseudonym Lately Thomas. His other publications included Storming Heaven (1970), A Pride of Lions (1971), and When Even Angels Wept: the Senator Joseph McCarthy Affair (1973). Steele died in 1977.

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