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Harlem Godfather: The Rap on my Husband, Ellsworth "Bumpy" Johnson Paperback – February 29, 2008

4.6 out of 5 stars 64 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Bumpy Johnson was Harlem. Period. Here, he becomes more than a conflicted character in Hoodlum or a blatant misrepresentation in American Gangster. Here, his charisma and creativeness prove he should be acknowledged with all the great bosses of the "mafia" heyday. -- The RAWSISTAZ Reviewers "The RAWSISTAZ Reviewers www.rawsistaz.com"

"I recommend Harlem Godfather: The Rap on my Husband, Ellsworth "Bumpy" Johnson to anyone wanting to know the truth about the real American gangster." -- Jennifer Coissiere - APOOO Book Club "APOOO Book Club www.apooo.com"

From the Inside Flap

Al Capone may have ruled Chicago. Lucky Luciano may have run most of New York City. But from the 1930s to the late 1960s, when it came to Harlem, the undisputed king of the underworld was Ellsworth Bumpy Johnson.

He was called an old-fashioned gentleman. He was called a pimp. A philanthropist and a thief. A scholar and a thug. A man who admonished children to stay in school, and a man who some say introduced heroin into Harlem.

Bumpy was a man whose contradictions are still the root of many an argument in Harlem. But there is one thing on which both his supporters and detractors agree in his lifetime, Bumpy was the man in Harlem.

If you wanted to do anything in Harlem, anything at all, you'd better stop and see Bumpy because he ran the place. Want to open a number spot on the Avenue? Go see Bumpy. Thinking about converting your brownstone into a speakeasy? Check with Bumpy first.

The police knew it they came to him to negotiate peace between young street gangs. The politicians knew it they counted on him to deliver votes on Election Day. Even the Italian and Jewish syndicate knew it, although they had to find out the hard way.

Harlem Godfather: The Rap On My Husband, Ellsworth Bumpy Johnson is the first complete biography of a man who for years was Harlem s best kept, and most cherished secret.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Oshun Publishing Company, Inc.; 1st edition (February 29, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0967602831
  • ISBN-13: 978-0967602837
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #211,063 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jennifer Coissiere "The Tough Critic" VINE VOICE on April 25, 2008
Format: Paperback
Imagine sitting around on the living room floor in your grandmother's house, listening carefully as your grandmother recaps your family history. That is the feeling I got while reading Harlem Godfather: The Rap on my Husband, Ellsworth "Bumpy" Johnson by Mayme Johnson and Karen E Quinones Miller.

Ellsworth "Bumpy" Johnson was born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina, where he was already making a name for himself. His parents, worrying about his safety, send him to live with his older sister, Mabel, in Harlem. This was the beginning of a new sheriff in town, and he meant business.

If loyalty is what you wanted; Bumpy was the man to find. Anything happening in Harlem had to be approved by him as well, and he never ever backed downed. Especially when he knew he was right. Though his main business was numbers running and protection, he was sentenced to fifteen years in prison, on a drug trafficking charge. Something he did not see coming, for all of Harlem knew the type of man he was.

Mayme Johnson wanted to set the record straight about the type of man, her husband, Ellsworth "Bumpy" Johnson, was. The type of people he kept company with and how he dealt with those who thought they could bring him down. At 93 years-old her memories of the things which took place, from the time Bumpy was young all the way up until the day of his death, was impressive. Though she met Bumpy in 1948, he along with his true friends shared the events of his earlier days with her, as well as things that took place when she was not there.

Mayme Johnson and Karen E Quinones Miller cleared up a lot of falsified information in Harlem Godfather: The Rap on my Husband, Ellsworth "Bumpy" Johnson.
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Format: Paperback
First I want to commend Karen E. Quinones Miller for helping Mrs. Johnson write this book. Finally, the truth comes out about the real Bumpy Johnson and not what was depicted in Hoodlum and American Gangster.

And speaking of American Gangster, after reading this book I can't believe the out and out lies about Bumpy Johnson that were told in that movie. Hollywood, you should be ashamed of yourself! And if it was Frank Lucas that told Hollywood those lies, Mr. Lucas you should hang your head.

This book gives all the details about Bumpy's life from his childhood in Charleston, to his death in 1968. (And no, he did not have a heart attack and die in some department store like they said in American Gangster.) It also details all of his criminal activities dating from back when he was a teenager. Most importantly, after reading this book you feel you've gotten to know the REAL Bumpy Johnson, and not just the legend. He was something else.

It also has wonderful little stories about people like Sugar Ray Robinson (you've got to read what Mrs. Johnson said about Mrs. Sugar Ray!) and Lena Horne (tsk, tsk, tsk, to you Ms. Horne!) as well as gangsters like Lucky Luciano and Dutch Schultz.

I had to wait for like a month to come out, but it was worth the wait! I'm a big fan of gangster books like The Last Testament of Lucky Luciano, Shoot the Dutchman, and different bios on Meyer Lansky and others . . . but it's so good to read a bio about the most famous black gangster who ever lived. This is now my favorite gangster book.

Oh. I almost forgot to mention that I enjoyed reading about Mrs. Johnson's relationship with Bumpy Johnson. You can tell those two were really in love. And there are some parts, like what happened between them right before he died, that will bring tears to a lot of eyes.

This was a great book.
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Format: Paperback
I was dubious about buying this book, but I decided to go ahead and get it since I'm familiar with the author. I knew it wasn't something I would like myself, but figured my boyfriend would so it wouldn't be a waste.
After I got it I flipped through a few pages before my giving it to my boyfriend. Well why did I do that! I was hooked from the very first page.
This is really and truly one of the best books I've ever read.
It tells the story of Bumpy Johnson, the gangster who ran Harlem after fighting it out with the Mafia in the thirties. I had seen the movie Hoodlum, so I knew Bumpy was a colorful character, but the movie didn't tell the half of it. This books tells Bumpy's early life, how he turned to a life of crime, and the principles he had while in the life. He wasn't like the thugs they have out here now. He was tougher than any alive, for one. But also, as tough as he was (and he was tough!) he still was a good man in a lot of ways. That's why he was so loved.
The book tells about Bumpy's childhood in Charleston, his arrival in Harlem in 1919, and how he got started as a gangster. We also learn about a lot of the other colorful characters he ran with like Bub Hewlett and Madame Queen who were also portrayed in the movie Hoodlum, and also what eventually happened to them.
It also tells about Bumpy's time in prison, and how he raised so much hell there the wardens were trying to figure out how to get him the heck out of prison. Can you imagine that?
The book also tells about other Harlem characters who've never been written about. Like Dickie Wells, who was a gigilo who romanced white movie stars and got rich doing so, and then spent all his money uptown in Harlem, treating black women to a good time.
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