• American Dreamer: Who Was Jay Gatsby?

  • By: Blanchard House
  • Narrated by: Joe Nocera
  • Length: 4 hrs and 46 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (141 ratings)

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American Dreamer: Who Was Jay Gatsby?  By  cover art

American Dreamer: Who Was Jay Gatsby?

By: Blanchard House
Narrated by: Joe Nocera
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Publisher's summary

Was a real life 1920s crook the inspiration for one of the world's most iconic fictional characters, “The Great Gatsby”?

Just before the small-time bootlegger Max Gerlach died, he tried to reveal his secret: he was the inspiration for the mysterious Jay Gatsby. It’s a nice story, but was he telling the truth? Veteran reporter Joe Nocera and producer Poppy Damon investigate this century-old literary mystery and uncover untold secrets about the Great American Novel.

Content Warning:

The Great Gatsby is a book of its time so you will hear racist and anti-Semitic themes and language that some listeners might find offensive. There will also be references to alcohol and drug abuse, depictions of violence and reference to suicide.

Episode 1: Old sport

It’s July 1923 and a scrawled note from a local bootlegger gives celebrity author F Scott Fitzgerald a bright idea… Joe Nocera begins his quest investigating just who this Max Gerlach really was.

Episode 2: Then came the war

Jay Gatsby tells everyone he’s a military man, a war hero. Max Gerlach gives the same impression. But is Gerlach the man he says he is?

Episode 3: Some big bootlegger

Joe explores the shady world of bootlegging and the mob kingpin who bridges fact and fiction.

Episode 4: The golden girl

For many The Great Gatsby is first and foremost a love story. Joe goes looking for Max Gerlach’s “golden girl”. He finds a marriage – but all is not as it seems.

Episode 5: I love you now – isn’t that enough?

Fun fact: most of the ‘Great American Novel’ was written in France. What can the Fitzgeralds’ tempestuous stint on the Riviera reveal about Jay Gatsby and the man who may have inspired him?

Episode 6: He believed in the green light

Joe digs into how Max’s American Dream went sour. Meanwhile, F Scott Fitzgerald’s problems have only just begun.

Episode 7: Forty acres

Joe is forced to ask if he's had the wrong idea all along as he probes the investigation's biggest curveball.

Episode 8: Ceaselessly into the past

As Joe concludes his investigation, they follow every lead to try and get to the bottom of Max and Scott’s relationship. Just how much of Max Gerlach wound up in “The Great Gatsby”?

©2024 Blanchard House (P)2024 Audible Ltd.

American Dreamer: Who Was Jay Gatsby

Episode 1: Cocktails, flappers, jazz! Host Joe Nocera invites us into one of Jay Gatsby's legendary parties
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Episode 2: Spy The investigation takes a shadowy turn – was our real-life Gatsby a traitor to his country? Episode 2: Spy
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Episode 3: Our bootlegger protagonist Max Gerlach faces peril on the high seas
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  • American Dreamer: Who Was Jay Gatsby?
  • Episode 1: Cocktails, flappers, jazz! Host Joe Nocera invites us into one of Jay Gatsby's legendary parties
  • American Dreamer: Who Was Jay Gatsby?
  • Episode 2: Spy The investigation takes a shadowy turn – was our real-life Gatsby a traitor to his country? Episode 2: Spy
  • American Dreamer: Who Was Jay Gatsby?
  • Episode 3: Our bootlegger protagonist Max Gerlach faces peril on the high seas

About the Presenter

Joe Nocera is a veteran journalist and podcaster. He has been a columnist with The New York Times, Bloomberg, Esquire, and GQ. His 2019 podcast, The Shrink Next Door, won a Webby for best documentary podcast. His hit podcast The Pirate of Prague was released in 2023. His latest book, The Big Fail, recounts America's failed response to the pandemic. He lives in New York City with his wife and son.

About the Presenter

Poppy Damon is an award-winning podcast producer. Formerly the executive producer of the daily podcast for The Times newspaper, Poppy has created numerous narrative multi-part series. She has investigated death frauds ( Pseudocide), explored the true crime memorabilia industry ( Murderabilia), and tracked the rise of the biggest SoundCloud rappers ( Legends Fall in the Making). Her series Who Killed CJ Davis? won best true crime podcast at the British Podcast Awards in 2021.

What listeners say about American Dreamer: Who Was Jay Gatsby?

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Loved it so much

The knowledge and enthusiasm and love of Gatsby made me smile and think about reading it again

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Dreamy

Great music, fun investigative/literary journalism. Loved the excerpts from the book and exploring all the theories.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Joe and Poppy bring Fitzgerald and Gatsby to life

Long time fan of The Great Gatsby, and the podcast brought new information and ideas to light.

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fascinating

I love the great gatsby and I enjoy nonfiction. this podcast brings up fascinating facts of the inside story of the great novel. well done quick listen

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    3 out of 5 stars

Not an audiobook

this is a podcast. it is not a book. very very big difference. please label correctly to avoid disappointment

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    5 out of 5 stars
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If you like the book, you HAVE to listen to this!

Really interesting stuff! I'm so glad I listened to this. It makes the book so much better knowing all the background info about the author & the book that got worked into the walk through of the investigation.

I can't imagine how much effort it took to track down all that info from the early 1900s, but I'm really grateful they did it!

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Outstanding! Loved it!

I love these podcasts from Joe & Poppy. This is my second one and they are so well researched and performed, both incredibly entertaining and educational.

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    4 out of 5 stars

A fun trip through Fitzgerald’s inspirations

Despite occasional forays down avenues which don’t seem to warrant all of the time they were given, (Max’s love life and Gatsby’s race stand out) it was thoroughly enjoyable. The narrators are charming and it was a very pleasant listen.

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Very interesting

The story is told at a lovely pace. Very interesting story about the book, the author and there journey

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Beautiful

Enjoyed learning about all these wonderful characters who made the 20’s so magical yet tragic.

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