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Tough Jews, Fathers, Sons and Gangsters' By Rich Cohen Simon and Schuster

Arnold Rothstein was the founding father of American organized crime. He was murdered in 1928. He left a legend and a myth and also a tribe of notorious "boys": Louis Lepke Buchalter, the first builder of an empire of crimes which produced in 1940 around $2 million a year, Meyer Lansky, Bugsy Siegal, Dutch Schultz, Abraham Twist Kid Reles, Pep Strauss, Mendy Weiss, Gurrah Shapiro, Red Levine and many others. They were Jews, criminals and murderers. They also did not hesitate to murder other Jews who dared to challenge them in the underworld. They left a "legacy" to be followed by the Italian "disciples" of Rothstein: Lucky Luciano, Joe Adonis, Louis Capone, Albert Anastasia and many others.

Cohen is an excellent writer and a superb story teller. He conducted research of his own and produced a fascinating account of the life of these criminal Jews. His book: "Tough Jews, Fathers, Sons and Gangsters" (Simon and Schuster, 1998, New York) will stir debate about the "contribution" of Jews to America. First: Jews do not tend to be only white collar kind of criminals. They can be cruel murderers. Second, Jews invented organized crime. Third, Jews were the first ones to describe themselves as businessmen. They turned the crime into business and they built a network of crimes: gambling, prostitution, smuggling, extortion and protection money. Fourth, sad to say they were the first drug dealers in America!! Fifth, they were often "good Jews". They went to synagogue and they defended Jews against American Nazis and anti-Semites. These are the conclusions from Rich Cohen's exciting to read book: "Tough Jews is a fascinating read back into the history of organized crime," wrote Martin Scorcese. And Mario Cuomo defined this book as "unusually entertaining". Larry King, a friend of the family, said, "WOW. What a book. . . You do not have to be Jewish to love Tough Jews." He is right. The book is rich with engrossing, vivid, violent anecdotes. Cohen covered the era from 1918 to 1950.

Pittsburgh PA
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TOPIC: Jews and organized crime
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