Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Little Man: Meyer Lansky and the Gangster Life” as Want to Read:
Little Man: Meyer Lansky and the Gangster Life
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Little Man: Meyer Lansky and the Gangster Life

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  227 ratings  ·  17 reviews
Based on interviews with Lansky's close friends & criminal associates, with law enforcement experts, & with members of Lansky's own family, & using previously unpublished documents written by Lansky himself, this is both the biography of a mob operator & a social history of American crime.
Hardcover, 1st, 559 pages
Published September 1st 1991 by Little, Brown & Co. (Boston/Toronto/London) (first published 1991)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Little Man, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Little Man

The Godfather by Mario PuzoThe Sicilian by Mario PuzoDonnie Brasco by Joseph D. PistoneWiseguy by Nicholas PileggiFive Families by Selwyn Raab
Best Mafia Books
14th out of 135 books — 197 voters
Public Enemies by Bryan BurroughJohn Dillinger by Dary MateraGo Down Together by Jeff GuinnSpeak Easy by Melanie HarlowDon't Call Us Molls by Ellen Poulsen
1920's & 30's Mobster, Mafia, Gangster America
25th out of 68 books — 46 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 607)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
I noticed some of the reviews on Amazon of this book called it a whitewash. I would say thats true to say the least. For that matter at times it almost reads like a tribute. This shouldn't be surprising considering Laceys main primary source for this book was Lanskys son. You would think Meyer Lansky was just a hard working business man that straddled the line of legality from time to time when he ran his bootleg liquor and gambling parlors. He claims that Lansky never ordered a hit or even used ...more
Interesting and well written biography of Jewish gangster Meyer Lansky. The book begins with his birth in a small Jewish village called Grodno in Eastern Europe and subsequent immigration at ten years of age to America with his family. The book details his youth as a precocious young gambler and his entry into bootlegging during Prohibition years. LITTLE MAN describes his underworld contacts and friends (Frank Costello, Benny Siegel, Lepke Buchalter, Charlie "Lucky" Luciano etc) and the most not ...more
A fantastic biography of Meyer Lansky, the greatest Jewish Gangster in America.
Erik Graff
Feb 22, 2015 Erik Graff rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: US citizens
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: biography
Well researched and very well written, this is a biography of Meyer Lansky (ca. 1902-1983) and his family members nested within a social history of organized crime which goes far in the direction of demythologization.

Although involved in illegal enterprizes, mostly concerning gambling, throughout his life, and although expensively pursued by local and federal authorities through much of it, Meyer Lansky was rarely convicted of anything and, despite his enormous reputation as a mob boss, died lea
James Nelson
I enjoyed this book very much but it was NOTHING like I thought it would be. Very amazing that the author did not include one bad thing to say about this infamous gangster. I'd like to find another book on the infamous Meyer Lansky and see if Robert Lacey forgot to include a few chapters in his book!
Michelle Everhart
I read this book at least once a year, and it's still one of my favorites. I highly recommend it to anyone who likes mafia Doc's. Very well researched and I know from History channel Documentaries that Lacey spent allot of tie getting to know the Lansky family.
J.H Gaines
absolutely Loved this book1 we have all seen the films and the documentary's so I brought this off of eBay and gave it a go, it is one of the only books I have actually read twice.
it is fascinating to see how New York was at the turn of the century and legalised gambling came to be in america, it is a great insight into gambling from the back room games in New York to the swanky parlours in Sarasota springs and Miami to ultimately Las Vegas and Atlantic City.
the book captures the feel of the tim
It is of interest to read the book now, in 2012, a few years after the death of the scumbag. This book is a crude, now I think laughably crude, attempt to lionise a little twerp. Ironically it shows where he made his roots- preying on his fellow Jews in the most violent manner. I did not see a mention of the prostitution and porn "industry" that he helped spawn- if that is the correct word!
I started but did not want to read all of it- the writer and his subject, indeed most of the characters are
Susan Donk
Not a fast read, but an interesting one. Just heard AMC is showing a miniseries on the topic beginning tonight at 10pm.
An excellent book on Lansky. Probably the best. Lacey details his gambling career; collects as much as he can on Lansky's bootleg career; and probably spends too much time on Lansky's legal and family troubles late in life. Lacey clearly argues that Lansky was poor and in retirement by the time he left the country to avoid legal proceedings.
Micky Livingston
This was a very good book for those who love Mafia based stories. I bought two of Robert Laceys books and enjoyed it immensely. I am using it for research on my second book, "The Saratoga Project."
While the book downplays some of Lansky's gambling connections, it does make a good point that organized crime is not as well organized as politicians have claimed.
A real page-turner that dispels a lot of commonly held myths about Lansky's wealth and power, and myths about organized crime in general. Super book!
Excellent biography of Meyer Lansky. "The Chairman of the Board". A genius and one of the most powerful Americans of the last century.
I am really loving this book so far. I am interested in all things Gangster!
This was read during my mafia stage. Which I may or may not still be in.
Oct 11, 2007 Tricia is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
so far fascinting lower east side stuff when it was full of Jewish gangsters.
Tyler Smith
Tyler Smith marked it as to-read
Nov 29, 2015
Luke marked it as to-read
Nov 29, 2015
Sean Evan Hourihan
Sean Evan Hourihan marked it as to-read
Nov 28, 2015
Mike Mitchell
Mike Mitchell marked it as to-read
Nov 28, 2015
Pierre De Schaetzen
Pierre De Schaetzen marked it as to-read
Nov 28, 2015
Elissa marked it as to-read
Nov 25, 2015
Pat marked it as to-read
Nov 13, 2015
Jason Steenekamp
Jason Steenekamp marked it as to-read
Nov 12, 2015
Michael Smith
Michael Smith marked it as to-read
Nov 11, 2015
Paul Soenen
Paul Soenen marked it as to-read
Nov 11, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 20 21 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Murder Machine
  • The Last Mafioso: The Treacherous World of Jimmy Frantianno
  • Mafia Kingfish
  • A Man of Honor: The Autobiography of Joseph Bonanno
  • The St. Valentine's Day Massacre: The Untold Story of the Gangland Bloodbath That Brought Down Al Capone
  • Capone: The Life and World of Al Capone
  • The Valachi Papers (aka The Canary That Sang)
  • The Last Testament of Lucky Luciano
  • Blood and Honor: Inside the Scarfo Mob--The Mafia's Most Violent Family
  • Born to Steal: When the Mafia Hit Wall Street
  • The Gangs of Chicago: An Informal History of the Chicago Underworld
  • The First Family: Terror, Extortion, Revenge, Murder, and the Birth of the American Mafia
  • Boss of Bosses: The FBI and Paul Castellano
  • Capone: The Man and the Era
  • Mr. Capone
  • Made Men
  • Takedown: The Fall of the Last Mafia Empire
  • The Westies: Inside New York's Irish Mob
Robert Lacey is a British historian noted for his original research, which gets him close to - and often living alongside - his subjects. He is the author of numerous international bestsellers.

After writing his first works of historical biography, Robert, Earl of Essex and Sir Walter Ralegh, Robert wrote Majesty, his pioneering biography of Queen Elizabeth II. Published in 1977, Majesty remains
More about Robert Lacey...

Share This Book