Upgrade to the Flash 9 viewer for enhanced content, including the ability to browse & search through your favorite titles.
Click here to learn more!
Using the anecdotes of his father's circle of friends as a starting point, Rich Cohen traces a generation of Jewish gangsters from the candy stores of Brownsville to the clubhouses of the Lower East Side--and, occasionally, suites at the Waldorf. It was the time of Murder Incorporated, of Bugsy Siegal and Meyer Lansky, when neighborhood kids, like Cohen's father, looked on the gangsters as celebrities, if not heroes, and emulated their manner, if not their crimes.
Cohen creates a densely anecdotal history of muscle, money, and moxie, like the story of how Gangy Cohen (no relation) left the mob. Just after he had murdered his best friend, Gangy "had an epiphany few gangsters experience in time: If they have me kill Walter [Sage], then, sooner or later, they will have someone else kill me." Gangy ran away to Hollywood and became an actor. More than just a catalog of violence,Tough Jews paints the neighborhoods, the culture, and recreates a long-gone era where "a Jew in jail didn't have to mean white-collar crime."
Praise for Tough Jews
"Exuberant. . .a vivid narrative. . . . Tough Jews brings familiar history back to life."
--The New York Times
"Warmly and affectionately rendered. . .these vignettes bring a lost generation of antiheroes to life."
--The Boston Globe
"If the Mafia has its Mario Puzo, the Jewish troops of Murder, Inc. deserve their Rich Cohen. . .entertaining, defiantly romantic."