Fat Leonard: How One Man Bribed, Bilked, and Seduced the U.S. Navy (Hardcover)

Fat Leonard: How One Man Bribed, Bilked, and Seduced the U.S. Navy By Craig Whitlock Cover Image
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#1 New York Times bestselling author Craig Whitlock’s masterful account of one of the biggest public corruption scandals in American history—exposing how a charismatic Malaysian defense contractor bribed scores of high-ranking military officers, defrauded the US Navy of tens of millions of dollars, and jeopardized our nation’s security.

All the admirals in the US Navy knew Leonard Glenn Francis—either personally or by his legendary reputation. He was the larger-than-life defense contractor who greeted them on the pier whenever they visited ports in Asia, ready to show them a good time after weeks at sea while his company resupplied their ships and submarines. He was famed throughout the fleet for the gluttonous parties he hosted for officers: $1,000-per-person dinners at Asia’s swankiest restaurants, featuring unlimited Dom Pérignon, Cuban cigars, and sexy young women.

On the surface, with his flawless American accent, he seemed like a true friend of the Navy. What the brass didn’t realize, until far too late, was that Francis had seduced them by exploiting their entitlement and hubris. While he was bribing them with gifts, lavish meals, and booze-fueled orgies, he was making himself obscenely wealthy by bilking American taxpayers. Worse, he was stealing military secrets from under the admirals’ noses and compromising national security.

Based on reams of confidential documents—including the blackmail files that Francis kept on Navy officers—Fat Leonard is the full, unvarnished story of a world-class con man and a captivating testament to the corrosive influence of greed within the ranks of the American military.

About the Author

Craig Whitlock is an investigative reporter for The Washington Post and the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Afghanistan Papers. He has worked for the Post since 1998 as a foreign correspondent, Pentagon reporter, and national security specialist, and has reported from more than sixty countries. His coverage of the war in Afghanistan won the George Polk Award for Military Reporting, the Scripps Howard Award for Investigative Reporting, the Investigative Reporters and Editors Freedom of Information Award, and the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for international reporting. He is also a three-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He lives in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Praise For…

"A vigorous investigation into the life of a con artist and swindler who had half the leadership of the U.S. Navy in his pocket....Maddening and astonishing in its revelations of a crime spree that cost taxpayers untold millions."Kirkus Reviews

"[A] rollicking exposé....Drawing on troves of incriminating emails and Francis’s colorful testimony after his 2013 arrest, Whitlock’s vivid narrative is a whirl of blithe graft....It’s also an appalling indictment of an out-of-control Navy that ditched its ethos of duty and honor in favor of craven toadying, and then, when the scandal came out, shielded the top brass from accountability while lower ranks went to jail. The result is an entertaining picaresque about a magnetic rogue that also spotlights troubling rot in the U.S. military."Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Explosive, brilliantly reported and meticulously documented, Craig Whitlock's Fat Leonard reads like a thriller but depicts one of the most sordid chapters in U.S. military history, a tale of brazen corruption that soiled the Navy and is an infuriating insult to the American taxpayer. You won't be able to put this book down, and you won't stop wondering how it could have happened.”—David E. Hoffman, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Billion Dollar Spy: A True Story of Cold War Espionage and Betrayal

“A relentless investigative reporter, Craig Whitlock has unearthed the truly jaw-dropping story the U.S. Navy hoped you’d never learn: how a master operator and defense contractor named Fat Leonard wined, dined and blackmailed senior Navy brass so they would help him bilk taxpayers of millions of dollars. This book has the receipts, down to the names of the sex clubs, the menus for the $30,000 dinners, and Fat Leonard’s own confessions.”—Carol Leonnig, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Zero Fail: The Rise and Fall of the Secret Service  

“Magnificently entertaining, meticulously reported, muckraking of the highest order, Fat Leonard might be the best true crime book you've ever read. It starts as the saga of a career criminal making millions in kickbacks by corrupting the admirals and officers of the United States Navy with Champagne, Cuban cigars, caviar, and sex. Everyone knew; almost no one cared. It gets better. He bamboozled the Navy's vaunted criminal investigators, conned the criminal justice system, and fled the country, heading for Russia. You can't put this book down, but once you're done, you'll hurl it across the room with a pleasurable sense of outrage.”—Tim Weiner, author of Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA, winner of the National Book Award 

Fat Leonard is a rollicking story of bribery and blackmail—of deceit, hubris, and greed. What makes this jaw-dropping account of corruption inside the mighty U.S. Navy so tragic, is that it’s all true. With The Afghanistan Papers, Craig Whitlock demonstrated his brilliance as an investigative reporter. With Fat Leonard, he’s done it again.”—Annie Jacobsen, author of Nuclear War: A Scenario

“The story of Fat Leonard is almost too improbable to be true, but Craig Whitlock documents every lurid turn and eye-popping detail in a masterful reconstruction of the rise and fall of one of the 21st century's most talented con men. Whitlock's exquisitely crafted narrative, with its depictions of U.S. Navy officers selling their country's secrets and their personal sense of honor to a corrupt businessman, will leave readers astonished and enraged—and utterly fascinated.”—Joby Warrick, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS  


"Fast-paced and vivid... chock-full of telling quotes."
The New York Times Book Review

"The excellent new book... Bombshell revelations... [and] damning evidence of things we already intuited.” 
The Washington Post

“At once page-turning and rigorous, The Afghanistan Papers makes a lasting and revelatory contribution to the record of America's tragic management of our longest war.”
— Steve Coll, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Ghost Wars and Directorate S

The Afghanistan Papers is a gripping account of why the war in Afghanistan lasted so long. The missed opportunities, the outright mistakes and more than anything the first-hand accounts from senior commanders who only years later acknowledged they simply did not tell the American people what they knew about how the war was going.” 
— Barbara Starr, CNN Pentagon correspondent

“A searing indictment of the deceit, blunders and hubris of senior military and civilian officials.”
— Tom Bowman, NPR Pentagon correspondent

Product Details
ISBN: 9781982131630
ISBN-10: 1982131632
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: May 14th, 2024
Pages: 480
Language: English