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Queen of Thieves: The True Story of "Marm" Mandelbaum and Her Gangs of New York
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Archive: Other Books > Queen of Thieves; 3.5 Stars

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Hahtoolah | 432 comments Queen of Thieves is ostensibly the story of Fredericka “Marm” Mandelbaum, a German-Jewish immigrant who became one of the most notorious fences in organized crime during New York’s Gilded Age. The book spends a lot of time discussing the politically corrupt environment of New York City during the latter part of the 1800s.

Fredericka and her husband, Wolf, immigrated to America in the 1850s. Like many other immigrants, they became peddlers. Fredericka soon learned, however, that it was far more lucrative to peddle in stolen goods. Bribes went a long way in her new profession. For over twenty-five years, she was the reigning “Queen” of fencing stolen property. She ruled over a network of gangs who aided in the illicit business. In the process, she became incredibly wealthy. By 1880, she had a personal wealth of over $1M.

Her empire came to an end when she was arrested by a Pinkerton detective. The ensuing court battle was more of a fight between the court system and the police department, however, with each side accusing the other of corruption. Ultimately, Fredericka made her escape and fled to Canada, which at the time had no extradition agreement with the United States. She lived quietly in Canada until her death. Her body was returned to New York where she is buried. People flocked to her funeral. In keeping with the nature of her work, many people who attended her funeral found their pockets were picked!

The book was interesting. The best parts were the chapters describing the court scenes of her trial with the arguments between her attorneys and the judge.

3.5 Stars


message 2: by Jason (new)

Jason Oliver | 2063 comments This is very interesting.


message 3: by Amy (new)

Amy | 8855 comments Jason, you rarely meet a book you aren’t drawn to! What is happening with your TBR these days?


message 4: by Jason (new)

Jason Oliver | 2063 comments I didn't add this one to the TBR though I do find this interesting. This will be a web search later. But my TBR is ever growing.


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