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Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars

This book provides interesting insights from Meyer Lansky's point of view regarding his life and opinions of various mobsters. As a child Lansky was often picked on due to his small size and his being labeled a Jew. One of the irritants who hassled Lansky was an older child named Charles Lucania. Lucania grew to respect Lansky's willingness to stand up for himself and the two became lifelong friends. The book spends time on the Salvatore Maranzano and Joseph Masseria days of fight for dominance in the mob. Other mobsters such as Arnold Rothstein, Irving Wexler (Waxey Gordon), and Bugsy Siegel are given their due as well. Rothstein was a mathematical genius whose downfall was gambling. Had he chose his mathematical wizardry could have been put to use in a positive manner.

Considerable time is spent on the role of the mafia during World War II in protecting the New York docks from strikes and sabotage from those sympathetic to Italy and Germany. In addition the mob claims it provided information to the military regarding where to land safely in Sicily, information regarding tides, and who to contact for assistance from residents in Sicily using the password "Mafia" or "Lucky Luciano." According to Lansky he served as the go-between with Naval commander Charles Haffenden and Lucky Luciano who was serving a thirty to fifty year prison sentence in a New York prison on alleged prostitution charges. Luciano hoped for a commutation of his sentence for his cooperation, but following the war the government was not sympathetic to his plight. It took New York Governor Thomas Dewey to commute Luciano's sentence and have him immediately deported to Italy. Lansky says that Commander Haffenden told him the government won't admit the mob had a hand in providing useful information, because it would look bad for them. However, I would have to believe the mob did have a hand in aiding the military based on Lansky's information in this book. Besides Luciano did have his thirty to fifty year prison sentence commuted shortly after by Governor Dewey. Luciano missed New York following his deportation, but tried to maintain his connection with the mob by having an influence in nearby Cuba.

Time is also spent on the buildup of the casino empire in Las Vegas, Nevada. Bugsy Siegel's downfall was due to his skimming money from the mob in the building of a casino. Lansky was sad to see a "hit" arranged on his longtime friend, but his infatuation with his present girlfriend and his betrayal to the mob led to the assassination of Siegel as he sat on his couch in Palm Springs, Callifornia. The book aptly describes airplanes bringing tourists into Las Vegas as follows: "They are chariots bringing human sacrifices to the great god of gambling. In them millions of men and women flock to Las Vegas to try their luck. To the moralist Las Vegas is all evil rolled into one. To the gambler it is paradise."

This is a very interesting book in that there isn't a lot of bloody gore that is usually associated with other books on the mob. The opinions in this book are all Lansky's, and the only authors he would agree to do this book are those he would trust, namely the authors of this book: Dennis Eisenberg, Uri Dan, and Elli Landau.
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on October 26, 2001
This book gave you the ins and outs of organized crime as well as a good biography of Meyer Lansky. This book details how Lansky,Lucky Luciano,and Bugsy Seigel created the modern world of organized crime. Especially interesting was the details of Lansky building the gambling empires in Cuba and Las Vegas. His
legal troubles were outlined as well in this book. This is a very interesting read. The era of prohibition recieves due attention also. It was once said that Lansky would be capable of
managing General Motors or U.S. Steel because of his money
management abilities. A truly good book about an interesting
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on December 24, 2012
I bought this book for a friend of mine an he said that the book was great. thank you so much
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on May 29, 2012
Loved every minute of it. Just read it again for the second time. I bought it because someone recommended it as an alternative to another book on Lansky that I was going to purchase.
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on March 28, 2014
enjoyed this book so much i read in again as had so many great unknown facts and was written in such a way i wanted to absorb it all. great for any history buff and actually any American to read. entertaining as well as informative of the time.
0Comment| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse

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