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Gangsters vs. Nazis: How Jewish Mobsters Battled Nazis in Wartime America

by Michael Benson

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8812296,640 (3.78)None
History. True Crime. Nonfiction. HTML:The stunning true story of the rise of Nazism in America in the years leading to WWII‚??and the fearless Jewish gangsters and crime families who joined forces to fight back. With an intense cinematic style, acclaimed nonfiction crime author Michael Benson reveals the thrilling role of Jewish mobsters like Bugsy Siegel in stomping out the terrifying tide of Nazi sympathizers during the 1930s and 1940s.

As Adolph Hitler rose to power in 1930s Germany, a growing wave of fascism began to take root on American soil. Nazi activists started to gather in major American cities, and by 1933, there were more than one-hundred anti-Semitic groups operating openly in the United States. Few Americans dared to speak out or fight back‚??until an organized resistance of notorious mobsters waged their own personal war against the Nazis in their midst. Gangland-style. . . .

In this thrilling blow-by-blow account, acclaimed crime writer Michael Benson uncovers the shocking truth about the insidious rise of Nazism in America‚??and the Jewish mobsters who stomped it out. Learn about:

* Nazi Town, USA: How one Long Island community named a street after Hitler, decorated buildings with swastikas, and set up a camp to teach US citizens how to goosestep.

* Meyer Lansky and Murder Inc.: How a Jewish mob accountant led fifteen goons on a joint family mission to bust heads at a Brown Shirt rally in Manhattan.

* Fritz Kuhn, "The Vest-Pocket Hitler": How a German immigrant spread Nazi propaganda through the American Bund in New York City‚??with 70 branches across the US.

* Newark Nazis vs The Minutemen: How a Jewish resistance group, led by a prize fighter and bootlegger for the mob, waged war on the Bund in the streets of Newark.

* Hitler in Hollywoodland: How Sunset Strip kingpin Mickey Cohen knocked two Brown Shirters' heads together‚??and became the West Coast champion in the mob's war on Nazis.

Packed with surprising, little-known facts, graphic details, and unforgettable personalities, Gangsters vs. Nazis chronicles the mob's most ruthless tactics in taking down fascism‚??inspiring ordinary Americans to join them in their fight. The book culminates in one of the most infamous events of the pre-war era‚??the 1939 Nazi rally in Madison Square Garden‚??in which law-abiding citizens stood alongside hardened criminals to fight for the soul of a nation. This is the story of the mob that's rarely told‚??one of the most fascinating chapters in American history an
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This is a nice idea, but there just weren't enough gangsters vs. Nazis to go around, so rather than have a 150-page book, Benson pads out every story with a lot of background, sometimes going pretty far afield. It is never uninteresting, but it is written in such an emphatic style, trying to make the most of a rather thin story, that it becomes almost pathetic after a while. Yes, there were lots of Jews who stood up against Nazis in the United States, but every fight scene in the book reads pretty much the same. And despite their heroic actions, those in the highest echelons of the US Government, such as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, did next to nothing to help the Jews. (But none of that figure into this book. It is supposed to be a feel-good story!) ( )
  datrappert | Oct 3, 2023 |
The Mob vs The Bund
Review of the Citadel Press Kindle ebook (April 26, 2022) released simultaneously with the Citadel Press hardcover edition

This read pretty much as an extended version of Greg Donahue's The Minuteman: The Forgotten Legacy of Nat Arno and the Fight Against Newark's Nazis (2020) which I listened to via an Audible Original a few years ago. I also now realize that the Goodreads NABers (Not A Bookers) have deleted my Minuteman review from 2020, but I'll reinstate it with my backup copy from LibraryThing.com

The basic plot is the American Nazis in the 1930s organized various rallies and the Jewish mobsters would organize their various tough guys (often boxers such as Nat Arno) to go and break up the rally and beat up the Nazi followers. Each chapter here basically repeats that scenario only with changes in cities, organizers and mobsters. It just gets a bit tiresome after several chapters. The writing is sensationalized with imagined 'conversations' between the mobsters, so it edges on fiction writing. Some of it sounds anachronistic as well, e.g. I don't think they used terms like "whacked" back in the 1930's.

The biggest revelation here was the story of Jacob Leon "Sparky" Rubenstein, who was one of the Chicago Jewish Mafia who participated in the 1930's Nazi beatings. His name goes by earlier in the book in a blur with the other mobster names. It is only towards the end of the book in the 'where are they now/what happened to' section that it is revealed that "Sparky" Rubenstein later changed his name to Jack Ruby, moved to Dallas, Texas to continue his crime career and then went on to publicly assassinate Lee Harvey Oswald, the alleged assassin of President Kennedy, shortly after the latter was arrested in 1963. ( )
1 vote alanteder | Feb 17, 2023 |
This is an exploration of the uptick in sympathy in America towards Hitler and his nationalist movement against Jews. It shows how propaganda and half-truths/lies can drive hatred and spur movements. So many were involved, including many famous names.
It is frightening to see that this same trend is moving forward due to the lies and hatred whipped up by 45. Such a sad thing that people don't learn history and follow madmen. ( )
  rmarcin | Aug 29, 2022 |
Most know of the German-American Bund aka the American Nazis, but most won’t know of the resistance to them, Jewish mobsters. This isn’t an academic look, more of a Winchell style look. The author does not hold back on his own feelings towards anybody, but also doesn’t glorify the gangsters, showing meeting rather violent ends later on.

Free review copy. ( )
  mrmapcase | Aug 25, 2022 |
The stunning true story of the rise of Nazism in America in the years leading to WWII‚ÄĒand the fearless Jewish gangsters and crime families who joined forces to fight back. With an intense cinematic style, acclaimed nonfiction crime author Michael Benson reveals the thrilling role of Jewish mobsters like Bugsy Siegel in stomping out the terrifying tide of Nazi sympathizers during the 1930s and 1940s.
  HandelmanLibraryTINR | Jul 7, 2022 |
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So we raided the joint. We went over there and grabbed everything in sight, all their bullshit signs, and smacked the shit out of them, broke them up the best we could. Nobody could pay me for this work. It was my patriotic duty. -Mickey Cohen, 1938
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For Keith Brenner
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I've been a comic-book fan since the days when they cost only twelve cents apiece, which would be the mid-sixties.
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History. True Crime. Nonfiction. HTML:The stunning true story of the rise of Nazism in America in the years leading to WWII‚??and the fearless Jewish gangsters and crime families who joined forces to fight back. With an intense cinematic style, acclaimed nonfiction crime author Michael Benson reveals the thrilling role of Jewish mobsters like Bugsy Siegel in stomping out the terrifying tide of Nazi sympathizers during the 1930s and 1940s.

As Adolph Hitler rose to power in 1930s Germany, a growing wave of fascism began to take root on American soil. Nazi activists started to gather in major American cities, and by 1933, there were more than one-hundred anti-Semitic groups operating openly in the United States. Few Americans dared to speak out or fight back‚??until an organized resistance of notorious mobsters waged their own personal war against the Nazis in their midst. Gangland-style. . . .

In this thrilling blow-by-blow account, acclaimed crime writer Michael Benson uncovers the shocking truth about the insidious rise of Nazism in America‚??and the Jewish mobsters who stomped it out. Learn about:

* Nazi Town, USA: How one Long Island community named a street after Hitler, decorated buildings with swastikas, and set up a camp to teach US citizens how to goosestep.

* Meyer Lansky and Murder Inc.: How a Jewish mob accountant led fifteen goons on a joint family mission to bust heads at a Brown Shirt rally in Manhattan.

* Fritz Kuhn, "The Vest-Pocket Hitler": How a German immigrant spread Nazi propaganda through the American Bund in New York City‚??with 70 branches across the US.

* Newark Nazis vs The Minutemen: How a Jewish resistance group, led by a prize fighter and bootlegger for the mob, waged war on the Bund in the streets of Newark.

* Hitler in Hollywoodland: How Sunset Strip kingpin Mickey Cohen knocked two Brown Shirters' heads together‚??and became the West Coast champion in the mob's war on Nazis.

Packed with surprising, little-known facts, graphic details, and unforgettable personalities, Gangsters vs. Nazis chronicles the mob's most ruthless tactics in taking down fascism‚??inspiring ordinary Americans to join them in their fight. The book culminates in one of the most infamous events of the pre-war era‚??the 1939 Nazi rally in Madison Square Garden‚??in which law-abiding citizens stood alongside hardened criminals to fight for the soul of a nation. This is the story of the mob that's rarely told‚??one of the most fascinating chapters in American history an

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