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The Meyer Lansky

The Thinking Man’s Gangster

Robert Lacey

First published in 1991 as Little Man: The Gangster Life of Meyer Lansky, the original text has been revised and updated for this edition by Robert Lacey, and much bonus material added.

They called Meyer Lansky the Godfather of the Godfathers, the Chairman of the Board of the National Crime Syndicate, the Mafia’s banker. They credited him with a personal fortune of $300 million, with having said “We’re bigger than U.S. Steel.” He was portrayed on the screen in The Godfather, Part II as Hyman Roth, dividing up Cuba with his fellow gangsters, and more recently in Boardwalk Empire as himself, played by Anatol Yusef.

If, in the mythology of organized crime, Al Capone symbolized the crude menace of the machine gun and the baseball bat, Meyer Lansky stood for the brains, the sophistication, the hot money, the sheer cleverness of it all. And yet, when it came down to it, no law enforcement official in 60 years could find much to pin on the supposed boss of bosses, and within a few years of Lansky’s death, his crippled son was living on welfare.

Based on dramatic new documentation and firsthand interviews with Lansky’s close friends and business associates, with law enforcement experts, and members of the Lansky family, this brilliant work of biography and social history was a groundbreaking exploration of oganised crime in America and our enduring fasciation with criminals.  It remains a powerful and irresistible narrative in which, by separating the strands of fact and legend in Meyer Lansky’s career, Lacey reveals a truth about the gangster life in America that is far more fascinating and dramatic than fiction.

First published by Little Brown (UK) in 1991; e-book reissued by Apostrophe Press in 2016.

Reviews

“Daring and well written … it would be criminal not to read it.”
People magazine

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