Tuesday, October 27, 2020

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Freemont Public Library: Best-selling Author Miles Harvey and the Life of an American Conman

October 22 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm


  • All registrants receive 10% off book purchase with code ‘EVENT’


Join best-selling author Miles Harvey at an event hosted by the Freemont Public Library in Mundelein as he explores the extraordinary life of James Strang, the uniquely American confidence who man schemed and failed his way through life, only to end up leading a faction of the Mormon Church to Beaver Island on Lake Michigan in the Antebellum era of the 19th Century.


The riveting story of the most infamous American con man you’ve never heard of: James Strang, self-proclaimed divine king of earth, heaven, and an island in Lake Michigan, until his assassination in 1856.

In the summer of 1843, James Strang, a charismatic young lawyer and avowed atheist, vanished from a rural town in New York. Months later he reappeared on the Midwestern frontier and converted to a burgeoning religious movement known as Mormonism. Following the murder of church founder Joseph Smith, Strang unveiled a letter purportedly from the prophet naming him successor. He then persuaded hundreds of fellow converts to follow him to Beaver Island in northernmost Lake Michigan, where he declared himself a divine king.

From this stronghold he controlled a fourth of the state of Michigan, establishing a pirate colony where he practiced plural marriage and perpetrated thefts, corruption, and frauds of all kinds. Eventually, having run afoul of powerful enemies, including the U.S. president, Strang was assassinated, an event that was frontpage news across the country.

The King of Confidence tells this fascinating but largely forgotten story. Centering his narrative on this charlatan’s turbulent twelve years in power, author Miles Harvey gets to the root of a timeless American original: the Confidence Man. Full of adventure, bad behavior, and insight into a crucial period of antebellum history, The King of Confidence brings us a compulsively readable account of one of the country’s boldest con men and the boisterous era that allowed him to thrive.

“Perfect for fans of Devil in the White City.Kirkus Reviews

“The King of Confidence is a ludicrously enjoyable, unputdownable read.” Dave Eggers, Pulitzer Prize finalist and New York Times bestselling author of Zeitoun

“One of the best books of the year.” Jonathan Eig, New York Times bestselling author of Ali: A Life

“This evocative tale will astonish and delight fans of American history.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)


Miles Harvey is the author of the national and international bestseller The Island of Lost Maps and the recipient of a Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellowship at the University of Michigan. His book Painter in a Savage Land was named a Chicago Tribune Best Book of the Year and a Booklist Editors’ Choice. He teaches creative writing at DePaul University in Chicago, where he is a founding editor of Big Shoulders Books.