Near the end, I finally had to abandon this too-long, too-slow, too-discursive "biography" of Jewish gangster Arnold Rothstein. Rothstein is a fascinating figure and the times he lived in are amazing, and there are a lot of great anecdotes in this book. But I'm afraid the overall information is too random and all over the place. I have read over 100 books on organized crime, so when I read a new one I should have at least a vague sense from the first few chapters where this guy fits into the overall history of OC in America. I didn't get that, and I got the distinct impression that it was because the author doesn't really know. There are some great stories and discursive histories of other figures of the time, which is why it pains me to give this book only 2 stars. But it is RARE that I make it 3/4 of the way through a book and then not decide to finish it. There is too little information about Rothstein, and too many detours along the way. I didn't even get to his murder, and I'm not sure I care.
I'll try The Big Bankroll
, but my suspicion is that -- as with many of the OC figures from early this century -- there just isn't enough info about Rothstein to warrant a full biography. He's one of those figures who is incredibly important, but nobody's 100% sure just why he's important, or, at least, why he's important can't be cooked down into a 3 or 400 page book. Maybe Rothstein's just a force that weaves through the rest of the organized crime histories, especially of Jewish gangsters.
Anyway, a noble effort, but too all-over-the-place to work for me as a book, either on an entertainment or a research level.