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The Purples Paperback – May 6, 2010

4.4 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A finely crafted novel, this effort by W. K. Berger is worthy of every--and any--superlative in the English vocabulary. Very entertaining..."
--The Book Review Dude

"Read this book because it's fun. Berger captures the spirit of Detroit when it is small enough to walk around and when the whole city administration can easily fit into a gangster's hip pocket."
--The Historical Novel Review

"Tense, exciting, and extremely satisfying.... The appeal of The Purples is universal."
--LL Book Review

About the Author

W. K. Berger is an award-winning journalist and author whose work has been featured in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, Esquire, Wired, and Reader's Digest. His books have been published internationally by Penguin and Random House.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 330 pages
  • Publisher: Ringer Books (May 6, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0615231705
  • ISBN-13: 978-0615231709
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,663,968 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
A finely crafted novel, this effort by W. K. Berger is worthy of every - and and any - superlative in the English vocabulary. Not to gush, but his use of first-person narrative, factual story telling, and film-noir 1920's style of narration took me back to my young days when I'd listen to radio shows such as ... "Only the Shadow knows what fear lurks in the hearts of men" - or something like that, but not so much "film noir" as much as the acting you'd see in an old 1950s black and white film. Then add in a hint of tongue-in-cheek humor, and there you have the character and essence of this novel. Very entertaining. The central character guides the reader through an extremely interesting expose of the gangs of Detroit way back in the 1920s, which for me, makes what I think should be required reading for any high-school English lit class.

This author - an award winning writer - took 10 years to complete the novel, and you can really tell. Like a piece of artwork finely sculpted, the end result is something that should be on anyone's bookshelf who enjoys fact-based historical fiction. Pull yourself away from the TV and delve into this magnificent novel. You'll be glad you did. I couldn't put it down once I started. 5 out of 5 stars.
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Format: Paperback
The Purples is a great, rum-running, trip to the 1920's and the nation's funnel for Prohibition--Detroit with its whiskey river border with Canada. W.K. Berger has woven together some of the most infamous gangland events of the century into a first-person narrative that is bloody, poignant and hilarious all at once.

Hang onto that running board as Joe Bernstein takes you from the illegal Palmer Raids of "Heinrich" Ford's Detroit to the bloody Collingwood Massacre. The largest funeral in Detroit history is the turning point for Berger's protagonist, wise-cracking narrator as well as for prosecutor Harry Reilly and microphone-slinging Jerry Barclay--a loudmouth radio host who's trying to play both sides of the Jewish/Italian mob war.

Perhaps the greatest new angle of this book is the compelling Bernstein who begins the novel rescuing his girl from city hall, piecing together an unlikely gang of Einsteins, philosphers and gorillas, dealing with the shame of his Jewish community and the hypocrisy of a town run by the automotive ruler of the world.

You'll have a hard time putting it down, if you put it down at all!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I just finished reading this book, and I can tell you that it is one of the greatest gangster novels ever! I think that W.K. Berger, does an outstanding job of story telling on the same level of other great novelist in the gangster genre, such as: Mario Puzo,Harry Grey,William Kennedy, and Donald Goines. I thought that all of the characters in this book were also top notch,Joe Bernstein, the Mob Boss, his brother Max, the:"consigliere", his Hit man/Bodyguard named: Abbie"The Agent",and that crazed psycho enforcer named; Grabowski and his killer "Babies" those carnivorous beasts, were all awesome! These thugs were some tough Jews. I found it very hard to put this book down from day one. There hasn't been very many, or if any novels,for that matter ,on the story of THE PURPLE GANG from Detroit, so that is one of the reasons that this is such an interesting read. The author,does a brilliant job of bringing to life the prohibition era,while keeping you on the edge of your seat with this great story. There is also some very dark information on the late Auto Tycoon Henry Ford, and how he ruled the city of Detroit as well. This is a PIT BULL of a novel, it just grabs you and won't let you go! Berger, also does a great job of showing the reader what this country was like as far as bigotry towards Jews in the early 20th century, and also exposes the criminal element in their community as well, which you don't find often today. A lot of people are not aware of the fact that Jews, were some of the worst gangsters and killers ever in American history,(See:Meyer Lansky,Bugsy Siegel,Mickey Cohen,Lepke Buchalter,Dutch Schultz,Murder,Inc., and today,the so-called:Russian Mafiya). Get this book if you're into great story telling. It will be a classic novel in the gangster genre.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As a native Detroiter, I was immediately drawn to this book. The author does a wonderful job of crafting the characters and bringing the reader into the story. My only complaint is when I finished the book the author has no other books for me to read. I was definitely left wanting more.
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Format: Paperback
"The Purples" is one of the most entertaining and enjoyable novels that I read in 2010. It has a fast-paced and gripping story line that always had me guessing where it would be taking me next. Mr. Berger also conjured up a cast of characters who are real, possess depth, and are truly unforgettable. Sure, the main character Joe Bernstein is a bad guy, but I liked him, cared about him, and rooted for him just as I did for Tony Soprano each season. "The Purples" was a real pleasure!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This novel traces the irresistible rise and inevitable fall of a prohibition era gang in Detroit. They are Jewish by ethnicity, outcast by society at large and even by their own community. The narrator is the leader of the gang, looking back on events in the past. His ruthlessness and cunning crushed all who stood in his way, until he ran up against the lone honest man in the city of Detroit's so called criminal justice system.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading every page of the narrator's largely unsentimental and mostly honest recollection of his struggle to make a life in a world that didn't care whether he lived or died. This is the most engaging novel I have read in the past year, and the only one that compelled me to keep reading when I should have been doing other things.
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