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King of the Jews: The Greatest Mob Story Never Told
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King of the Jews: The Greatest Mob Story Never Told

3.34  ·  Rating details ·  170 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
Flamboyant mobster Arnold Rothstein was gambling and money. He was the inspiration for Meyer Wolfsheim in The Great Gatsby and Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls. It was rumored he masterminded the 1919 World Series fix. He was Mr. Broadway, a king of corruption holding court from his private booth at Lindy's Restaurant.

In this lively, sprawling biography, the inimitable Nic
Paperback, 336 pages
Published April 25th 2006 by Harper Perennial (first published May 1st 2005)
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Jul 11, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
An interesting exercise in how to write a fully truthful biography about someone who there is an utter lack of actual facts about. Meandering and chock of all kinds of facts about all kinds of subjects, except about the subject of the book. Worth reading just for his rants equating NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg to Adolph Hitler.
Patrick Justo
Feb 09, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
Nick Tosches writing can best be described as "Oooh, look at me, I'm writing a book about Arnold Rothstein. But even when I'm talking about Arnold Rothstein, I'm talking about me. Did you notice how I put that word next to that other word? That's writing. That's what I'm doing right now. Notice how I'm talking about me again? Despite what everyone thinks, Arnold Rothstein probably didn't actually fix the 1919 world series, I discovered. Did you notice who discovered that? Me. I did. Notice how I ...more
Bro_Pair أعرف
Aug 05, 2014 rated it did not like it
What a piece of shit. Did you somehow get it in your head this would be a biography of gangster Arnold Rothstein? What a sap. We get to Arnold's birth on page 181. I'd say there's maybe about 50 solid pages of writing about Rothstein's life in a 315 page book; it's fine it doesn't have an index, as there's no information you'd need to look up. In between comparisons of the NYC smoking ban to Nazi Germany domestic policies, and (I'm not joking) soft-core intercalary chapters about a woman fucking ...more
Greg Correll
Feb 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Halfway through and this is like Weekley's lexicography on mini-bennies and mushrooms. Nick makes my teeth ache he's so good. as he veers into peers into found moments, marginalia, meta-narratives a paragraph long, a re-raveling exploration of Hebrew etymology, and more. Death bed hijinks with lawyers. Arnold's cipher father, a Jew from Bessarabia named Harris, go figure, infected by Five Points in the mid-1800s.

This is bravura poetry and rich history. He has more in common with James Elroy than
Apr 22, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: most-despised
Arnold Rothstein is a very interesting character and his interview with Zoe Beckley as compared to what is known of him historically is both amusing and insightful.
However; my praise of Tosches’ book ends there. His many tangents and mini porn scenes are both irrelevant and at times offending. He tries to tie them in as messianic irony as he chastises both the Jewish and Christian faithful. Tosches seems to me to have had two separate books in his head, and was unable to either stick to one lon
Sep 01, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: armchair historians
I thought this book would be a gonzo gangster story similar to "In the Hand of Dante", and it became a pseudo-history of the Jews in NYC.

The historical allegations are self-referential enough to annoy any historian. The gangster story circles around the crime without getting into details.

The book is entertaining and pleasant. It is not preachy, nor overly long, nor too detailed.

The strength of "King of the Jews" is dragging the reader into a historical fiction, while the poor sucker expects a d
Apr 18, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was not about Abe. This was a wandering journey around New York in the early 1900's and before. Tosches is clearly a skilled writer and that made this book tolerable as a whole, even if parts were not. Good enough writing to give another one of his books a try at some point during a drought of ready material.
May 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: history, commentary
Oh yeah, Arnold Rothstein, the first Jewish organized crime boss, rum runner, and helluva guy. In many ways, this is Nick Tosches' paean to New York, and a lot of it is a straight-up rant, done in the style that only Nick and Lester Bangs can achieve, This is the 4 a.m. chain-smoking, thirteenth whiskey kind of writing that makes me yearn for more.
Patrick Brown
Jul 12, 2007 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
I'm a Nick Tosches fan -- and there was some of his characteristically caustic style here -- but my fucking god was this book self-indulgent. I can't see what the smoking ban in New York City bars has to do with the great and powerful Arnold Rothstein. Anybody else read this train wreck?
Jan 30, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm sure almost all of you have heard of the term 'anti-Semite', right? And probably most of you are familiar with the term 'anti-hero'? So would it be okay to use the word 'anti-biography'? Because that is the only term that comes to mind which comes close to describing what this book actually is.

First, some background as to how this book came into my hands. Although the series of Boardwalk Empire has long since finished, I always find myself out-of-touch with what is popular at the time. And p
Jun 03, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
My maiden name is "Rothstein" so I read everything and anything about Arnold... Book is just "ok" but again, Arnold is a bit of an obsession. I'd recommend it for others who get a kick out of that era, the gangsters, and so forth.
My grandpa Rothstein was a bookie, fyi... & my eldest daughter ALWAYS picks the winners at the race track so it must be in the blood! Heh heh
Ehhhh. Interesting at times but it's all over the place. Not that much about Rothstein. I guess one of the problems is that maybe not that much is really known about his business. By necessity considering his business.
Leonard Pierce
May 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Arnold Rothstein, the original Tough Jew of the 20th century, was the first man to see the criminal profit potential in Prohibition, and he rigged the goddamn World Series and got away with it. Why would you not want to read about a guy like that, especially if Nick Tosches does the writing?
Brian K.
Jun 17, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
More than a biography... Nick weaves the story of supposed Mob moneyman Arnold Rothstein, with historical context and insightful commentary on common culture.

If you're looking for a straightforward biography, go somewhere else. If you're looking for a good story, read this one.
such a great book
Aug 01, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: liars
Nobody knows much about Arnold. Including Tosches. But that's the point.
Aug 21, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Tosches, Nick. KING OF THE JEWS. (2005). ***. Tosches is a gritty writer who often contributes articles to the likes of Vanity Fair and other high-class magazines. He has also written excellent biographies of Dean Martin, Sonny Liston, and Jerry Lee Lewis. On top of this, he has also written several novels – though they tend to be esoteric and require heavy use of footnotes. This book is, purportedly, a biography of Arnold Rothstein. You don’t learn much about Rothstein until about halfway throu ...more

In which George Bush is asserted as stupid. In which contemporary Americans are likened to Good Germans of the 30s. In which Power Bars are ridiculed. In which it is clear that Tosches could find not nearly enough material on the purported subject of the book, the Jewish gangster Arnold Rothstein, and decided to write the damn thing anyway, including about thirty pages on the plurality of the Hebrew word "elohim," fifteen pages on Rudy Giuliani's smoking ban and the present Administration, and I

J. Ewbank
Have not read a book by Tosches befor so did nt know anything about him. I found the book difficult to read, adone in which we moved from what was spposed to be he topic to a number of things. Some good scholarship on some Biblical points but had trouble understanding what he was making of it to follow the title.

J. Robert Ewbank autho "John Wesley, Natural Man, and the Isms" and "Wesley's Wars"
Darran Mclaughlin
Jul 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, biography
This book was a fairly interesting and enjoyable read, but I didn't learn as much about Rothstein as I expected to and Tosches writes in a clunky 'new journalistic' style that gives us unnecessary insights into his private life, has flashes of ersatz lyricism and numerous references to books he has used for research with no bibliography.
Sep 09, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Disappointed I'm afraid. More of a history of the Jews than of Arnold Rothstein. Johnny Depp may read all of his work but I'd suggest not.
picked this up yesterday in the San Francisco airport

the writer is obviously gifted...more report to come
Feb 26, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was expecting a biography of Rothman not a religious belief debate.
Jan 19, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
...worth reading when keen of nyk and nick tosches! inegal, but at some moments, delicious...
Jun 09, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Geez, shut up Nick. I wanted to read about Arnold Rothstein, but I won't wade through all the BS to get there.
Jon Rose
Apr 08, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Some interesting history about NYC but I can't say I enjoyed how Tosches told the story.
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Nick Tosches was born in Newark, New Jersey, and raised by wolves from the other side. Through nepotism he became a barroom porter at the age of fourteen. Casting this career to the wind in his quest for creative fulfillment, he became a paste-up artist for the Lovable Underwear Company in New York City. On January 12, 1972, he went to lunch and never came back, drifting south to Florida, where, a ...more
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