Tough Jews: Fathers, Sons, and Ganster Dreams

Tough Jews: Fathers, Sons, and Ganster Dreams

by Richard Cohen

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Award-winning writer Rich Cohen excavates the real stories behind the legend of infamous criminal enforcers Murder, Inc. and contemplates the question: Where did the tough Jews go?

In 1930s Brooklyn, there lived a breed of men who now exist only in legend and in the memories of a few old-timers: Jewish gangsters, fearless thugs with nicknames like Kid Twist Reles and Pittsburgh Phil Strauss. Growing up in Brownsville, they made their way from street fights to underworld power, becoming the execution squad for a national crime syndicate. Murder Inc. did for organized crime what Henry Ford did for the automobile, and Tough Jews is the first in-depth portrait of these men, a thrilling glimpse at the muscle that made possible the success of gangster statesmen such as Bugsy Siegel, Meyer Lansky, and Lucky Luciano.

For Rich Cohen, who grew up in suburban Illinois in the 1980s taunted by the stereotype of Jews as book-reading rule followers, the very idea of the Jewish gangster was a relief; for once, a Jew in jail did not have to be a white collar criminal. With a clear eye and a comic sensibility, Cohen looks beyond the blood and ultimately encounters each of these ruthless killers’ matzo-ball heart. Tough Jews shows what can happen when a member of the tribe combines brains, heart, and a dangerous determination never to back down.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781439142509
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 06/18/2013
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 371,406
File size: 17 MB
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About the Author

Richard Cohen is the former publishing director of Hutchinson and Hodder & Stoughton and the author of Chasing the Sun, By the Sword, and How To Write Like Tolstoy. Works he has edited have gone on to win the Pulitzer, Booker and Whitbread/Costa prizes, and twenty-one have been #1 bestsellers. For more than 35 years he has written, edited, and lectured on numerous subjects around the world, from talks on the Queen Mary 2 to the First World War battlefields of France and Belgium. For seven years he was a visiting professor in creative writing at the university of Kingston-upon-Thames in London. Among the authors he has edited are Madeleine Albright, Vanessa Redgrave, Sebastian Faulks, Studs Terkel, John Keegan, Richard Holmes, John le Carre, Jeffrey Archer, Sir Harold Evans, Tony Benn, Barbara Castle, William Trevor, Kingsley Amis and Fay Weldon. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
For two years he was program director of the Cheltenham Festival of Literature, and during his tenure it became the largest book festival in the world. Five times U.K. national saber champion, Cohen was selected for the British Olympic fencing team in 1972, 1976, 1980, and 1984 and has been four times world veteran champion.  He has written for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times Book Review and most British quality newspapers.

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Tough Jews 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If tough Jews interest you, also read 'The Pledge.' Barnes & Noble sells it, too. The tough Jews in 'The Pledge' are the men and women, mostly veterans of World War II, who served in the secret American underground that helped arm the new State of Israel for its war of independence. Not only Jews. Protestants and Catholics, too. People who wanted to help the homeless survivors of the Holocaust. They found, acquired , repaired and then flew surplus American aircraft to Israel to create the Israeli Air Force. Their transport planes brought the arms from Europe that made victory certain. 'The Pledge' by Leonard Slater. Tough Jews you want your kids to know about. 'The Pledge' is back in print and sold online by Barnes & Noble.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A gripping and informative depiction of 'murder inc.' and jewish gangsters of the early to mid twentieth century. This book profiles the hardships that jews faced in america and the choices some were forced to make. Tough Jews also helps to debunk unfortunate stereotypes that american jews have been labeled with and restore a sense of pride in their recent past. quick read and very entertaining.