Based on interviews with Lansky's family, his close friends and criminal associates, law enforcement experts, and using previously unpublished documents written by Lansky himself, this is both the biography of a mob boss and a social history of American crime.
©1991 Robert Lacey (P)1991, 2014 Dove Audio, Phoenix Books
"A major contribution to the history of organized crime in the U.S." (Publisher's Weekly)
I am grateful for the lack of razzle-dazzle and the straight-faced discipline here of sticking to known facts. Lansky was a cautious man with a sharp memory and a good head for numbers. He was more honest in dealings than his cohorts generally, and would avoid direct participation in the worst excesses of organized criminals, but he would team with some with no such scruples, such as Siegel and Luciano. Lansky was not the sensationalized demi-god of international criminal finance he is sometimes exalted as (a narrative which might dovetail with the mythos of shadowy international Jewish conspiracies). There were plenty of people he could not bribe and corrupt. We hear this in the later stages of his life, where he was a guy with a weak heart and limited assets fleeing the Justice Department from place to place. His interactions with Israel, as he attempted to use the right of return to emigrate (and to die) there, were interesting and well told from a legal point of view. Though Lansky had made some efforts in aid of the combatants founding Israel, and put on a full court press with forceful lawyers to make his case, the Israeli justice system appears (in my opinion) to have come to the right conclusion in ultimately rejecting his petition for citizenship. Lansky's children are given brief roles, and they turned out to be as flawed as anyone, and did not come away with great fortunes. Often stories like this are embellished a lot, maybe for sales. But I prefer this approach.
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