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Tom Sancton is a journalist, author, and jazz musician. He grew up in New Orleans, graduated from Harvard, and took a doctorate in Modern History at Oxford University, which he attended as a Rhodes Scholar. A former writer, editor, and foreign correspondant for TIME magazine, he has written or co-written seven books of fiction and non-fiction. In 2014, the French government named him a Chevalier (Knight) in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He is currently a Research Professor at Tulane University and divides his time between Paris and New Orleans.

Tom Sancton's Latest Book


(Dutton, 2022)

 On January 23, 1978 Baron Edouard-Jean Empain, one of France’s most powerful industrialists, was abducted in front of his home by a ruthless band of kidnappers. Charming and Hollywood handsome, Empain—known widely as Wado—dominated the headlines during his 63 days in captivity, a horrific ordeal that began with the amputation of his little finger and ended in a bloody shootout. 

Charting the spectacular rise and fall of one of Europe’s greatest industrial juggernauts, Tom Sancton tells the story of how the Empain dynasty began with Wado’s grandfather in the late 19th century, how the kidnappers chose their target and executed their intricate plan, and how the police, after several failed attempts, eventually freed the baron. Yet, his liberation did not mean life went on as it had before: the details of Wado’s private life that had been exposed during kidnapping—his gambling and infidelities—shattered his family and his world, and ultimately caused the demise of his family legacy. 

Praise for The Last Baron

"Atmospheric, immaculately plotted, cinematic".  WALL STREET JOURNAL

Read the complete WSJ review.

“"The Last Baron” is a book about the flash points in family, business, politics and diplomacy. At the same time, much of the narrative amounts to an expertly told and richly detailed police procedural. Above all, it is a wholly authentic thriller."  WASHINGTON POST

Read the complete Washington Post review

“An entertaining, well-researched tale of a late-20th-century scandal.” KIRKUS REVIEWS.

Read the complete Kirkus review of The Last Baron

"A doggedly reported and briskly entertaining history.” PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY

Read the complete Publisher's Weekly review.

"An immensely readable, impeccably written, and thoroughly researched tale of a kidnapping gone wrong. Ideal for readers who enjoy biography, social, political, and cultural history." LIBRARY JOURNAL

Read the  starred Library Journal review 

"Sancton's briskly paced narrative moves smoothly through three generations of family history, a complex crime plot, and a century's worth of social and political background." BOOKLIST

"Resourcefully reported, cleverly structured, and commandingly well written by a keen observer of French society.”—HAMPTON SIDES, New York Times bestselling author of In the Kingdom of Ice.


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