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Tommy Gun Winter: Jewish Gangsters, a Preacher's Daughter, and the Trial That Shocked 1930s Boston Hardcover – April 7, 2015
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"A triumph. The narrative crackles with indelible, three-dimensional characters who draw readers into a web of love, jealousy, loyalty and ultimately, murder. Gorenstein writes so vividly that it's easy to imagine a movie adaptation."-Wendy Ruderman, Pulitzer Prize winner and co-author, with Barbara Laker, of Busted: A tale of Corruption and Betrayal in the City of Brotherly Love.
"It's a can't-miss story Gorenstein found hidden in his family's attic. And he pulls it off.
The research is meticulous, and the book puts you smack in Depression-Era New England.
And I'll warn you against reading Tommy Gun Winter in bed, because as each chapter ends, it pulls you into the next - not the best prescription for a full night's sleep."
The Philadelphia Inquirer
"Tommy Gun Winter" is the type of historic true crime book I love: meticulously researched, yet told in an entertaining style that kept me turning the pages...macho Murt, slow-witted Irv, arrogant Abe, and narcissistic Norma aren't just one-dimensional villains, but fully fleshed-out human beings." - historictruecrime.com
“Tommy Gun Winter is truly a triumph. The narrative crackles with indelible, three-dimensional characters who draw readers into a web of love, jealousy, loyalty, and ultimately murder. Gorenstein writes so vividly that it’s easy to imagine a movie adaptation.” (Wendy Ruderman, Pulitzer Prize winner and coauthor of Busted: A Tale of Corruption and Betrayal in the City of Brotherly Love)
“Nathan Gorenstein has always been a superb reporter, but he has outdone himself. . . . The story is richly detailed, and the narrative races along like the black Packard getaway car, careening through city streets, hostage on the running board, Thompson machine gun blasting away.” (Michael Vitez, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of The Road Back)
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Millen came from a family with a long history of mental illness, we learn later in the story. When it came time to kill or be caught, Millen sprayed bullets without a second thought. His brother, Irv, was happy to accept his share of the take and continue on in the business of crime. But reeling in Abe, a brilliant MIT engineer and ROTC candidate boggles the mind and strains credulity, except this isn’t fiction. This is the true story that unfolded across the many newspapers that existed in those days and, oh yeah, the author ferreted out this story that his family had desperately wanted to forget about, though he had heard vague hush-hush references of a long-ago bank robber in the family.
Gorenstein turns each person in the story into a fascinating character through the many details he accumulated with scrupulous and untiring research. Norma Brighton, the childlike teen who quickly marries Murt Millen, seems both hopelessly naïve and slightly narcissistic, actually playing to the press throughout the trial.
The trial includes a long and interesting discussion of mental illness and criminal insanity and the boundaries of each. Another subtext is the colorful and plentiful newspapers that recounted the robberies, the capture and the trial.
Gorenstein is an award-winning journalist and has written many a great newspaper article, but in Tommy Gun Winter, he shows a new graceful, writerly style, a confidence in pacing, and has produced a book that simply must be read.