cover image Big Apple Gangsters: The Rise and Decline of the Mob in New York

Big Apple Gangsters: The Rise and Decline of the Mob in New York

Jeffrey Sussman. Rowman & Littlefield, $35 (204p) ISBN 978-1-5381-3404-7

This incisive survey of New York City gangsters from Sussman (Boxing and the Mob: The Notorious History of the Sweet Science) first focuses on Arnold Rothstein, the father of organized crime and the man who fixed the 1919 World Series. The kingpin of the Jewish mob, Rothstein mentored such gangsters as Meyer Lansky and Ben Siegel (who hated the nickname “Bugsy”). In the chapter on Dutch Schultz, Sussman mentions he had a bootlegger great-uncle who was indicted but never tried for the murder of another bootlegger. Schultz really did off one of his enemies by giving him cement shoes and dumping him in the East River. The book dispels myths such as that the Mafia wasn’t into drugs while reaffirming the claim that the FBI did employ mobsters as informants from time to time. The final chapter outlines the decline of the old-time bosses at the hands of late-20th-century prosecutors using the Racketeering Influenced and Corruption Organizations (RICO) Act. The introduction, in which the author tells of his own family’s mob encounters and connections, is alone worth the price of admission. This is perfect for Godfather fans. (Nov.)