Tough Jews

Front Cover
Simon and Schuster, 1998 - History - 271 pages
21 Reviews
Back in the twenties and thirties in Brooklyn, there lived a breed of men who now exist only in legend and in the memories of a few old-timers. These men were Jewish gangsters, fearless thugs who worked for their nicknames: Buggsy Goldstein, Kid Twist Reles, Pittsburgh Phil Strauss. Growing up in Brownsville, they made their way from street fights to underworld power, becoming the execution squad for a national crime syndicate. They were known as Murder Inc., a corporation dealing in death, which did for organized crime what Henry Ford did for the automobile. Tough Jews is the first in-depth portrait of these men, a thrilling glimpse of street-level thugs, the muscle that made possible the success of gangster statesmen such as Bugsy Siegel, Meyer Lansky, and Lucky Luciano. Never before have these men been handled with such wit, a clear, comic eye that sees beyond the blood to encounter each gangster's matzo-ball heart. For Rich Cohen, who grew up in suburban Illinois in the 1980s taunted by the stereotype of Jews as book-reading, college-attending rule followers, the very idea of the Jewish gangster was a relief. The words "Jewish gangster" seemed to suggest an alternative, a future shot full of holes. For once, a Jew in jail did not have to mean white collar crime. Cohen learned about the gangsters from his father, Herb Cohen, author of You Can Negotiate Anything, and his father's friends from the old neighborhood in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, including talk-show host Larry King. At breakfast, after touching on Jewish basketball stars and boxers, these men would speak of Jewish gangsters, corner boys who took grief from no one. Cohen, taken with his father's fixation on these elusive figures, has gone back -- interviewing survivors, prosecutors, and relatives, wading through police records and court reports -- to excavate the real stories behind the legends, the rise, the fall, and the mystery: Where did the tough Jews go?
  

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Review: Tough Jews: Fathers, Sons, and Gangster Dreams

User Review  - Steve - Goodreads

Doctor, Lawyer or...Gangster. The history of the Eastern European Jews who lived down in the Bowery and Brooklyn and ran a criminal Empire. Murder Inc before it was a record label was the name of the ... Read full review

Review: Tough Jews: Fathers, Sons, and Gangster Dreams

User Review  - Emma - Goodreads

Excellent book, though the style might not be to everyone's taste as it was mine. As much as it is about the generation of Lepke & Gurrah, and of the 20s/30s heyday of New York City gangsters... It is ... Read full review

Contents

Nate nAls
13
Abe and Buggsy
23
The Moderns
39
War in Brownsville
69
Delegates at Large
89
Corners
111
On the Lam
159
Dead or Out of Town
195
The Warriors
241
Epilogue Nate nAls
263
A Note on Sources
266
Bibliography
267
Index
269
Copyright

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About the author (1998)

Rich Cohen is a graduate of Tulane University. He has written for The New Yorker, The New York Observer, The New York Times, New York Magazine, Details, and Spy. He is now a contributing editor at Rolling Stone and lives in New York City.

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