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Bugsy Siegel: The Dark Side of the American Dream (Jewish Lives) Hardcover – February 9, 2021

4.2 out of 5 stars 411 ratings

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Editorial Reviews


"Fast-paced and absorbing. . . . With a keen eye for the amusing, and humanizing detail, [Shnayerson] enlivens the traditional rise-and-fall narrative."—Jenna Weissman Joselit, New York Times Book Review

 "[A] brisk-reading chronicle of Siegel’s life and crimes."—Tom Nolan,
Wall Street Journal

“A pacey and thoughtful biography...part of Yale University Press's excellent Jewish Lives series”—
The Economist

"A highly readable, fast-moving contribution to the annals of 20th-century organized crime."—
Kirkus Reviews

"This is a biography of a man whose life in fact reads like fiction, even like myth. . . . A readable, even riveting account."—Richard Horwich,
East Hampton Star

"A short and gripping panorama of life in 1920s-1940s America, that defining epoch of struggle and stardom, hardship and grandeur, fortune and bankruptcy. . . . Shnayerson helps demystify the mythology around Siegel while not making the story any less sublime. . . . In fact, Shnayerson’s biography of Bugsy makes him even more compelling and fascinating."—Paul Krause,
Merrion West

“An approachable, well-researched biography of the turbulent, passionate life of Benjamin (Bugsy) Siegel, this sympathetic depiction of one of most notorious members of the Jewish underworld of the 1920s through the 1940s by Shnayerson, (contributing editor,
Vanity Fair) reads like an adventure tale of derring-do.”—A. Lieberman Colgan, Choice

“In this captivating portrait of the notorious Jewish gangster who ascended from impoverished beginnings to the glittering Las Vegas strip, author Michael Shnayerson sets out not to absolve Bugsy Siegel but rather to understand him in all his complexity.”— Nyla Arslanian,
Discover Hollywood

“An amazing job. I learned a lot. A great book about real gangsters when gangsters were real.”—Nicholas Pileggi, author of

“Insightful, well-written, and carefully researched, this is the best and most complete biography of the notorious gangster Benjamin ‘Bugsy’ Siegel in print.”—Robert Rockaway, author of
But He Was Good to His Mother: The Lives and Crimes of Jewish Gangsters

“A wonderful exploration of the dark side of the American dream via Bugsy Siegel, the personification of the dark side and the dream. Just as stylish as Bugsy himself. A fabulous book.”—Rich Cohen, author of
Tough Jews: Fathers, Sons, and Gangster Dreams

About the Author

Michael Shnayerson became a contributing editor at Vanity Fair in 1986 and is the author of eight books on a range of nonfiction subjects, including Boom: Mad Money, Mega Dealers, and the Rise of Contemporary Art.
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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Yale University Press; 1st edition (February 9, 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 248 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0300226195
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0300226195
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.5 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.75 x 0.88 x 8.25 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.2 out of 5 stars 411 ratings

About the author

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Michael Shnayerson, Vanity Fair writer, non-fiction author. "Boom" "Harry Belafonte My Song" "The Contender" "Coal River" "The Killers Within" "The Car That Could" "Irwin Shaw."

Customer reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5
411 global ratings

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4.0 out of 5 stars A good easy read.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on April 13, 2021
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating insight into the Syndicate and Vegas
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on July 17, 2021