HomeGroupsTalkExploreZeitgeist
Search Site
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Loading...

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

by Michael Benson

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations
207941,328 (4.67)None
The stunning true story of the rise of Nazism in America during the 1930s and 1940s--and the fearless Jewish gangsters and crime families who joined forces to fight back...with a vengeance. With an intense cinematic style, acclaimed nonfiction crime author Michael Benson divulges the thrilling role of Jewish mobsters like Meyer Lansky and Bugsy Siegel in stomping out the terrifying tide of Nazi sympathizers in the years leading to WWII. 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--and one of the most fascinating chapters in American history. And American organized crime.… (more)
None
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
In 1938, a New York City judge, a rabbi, and a Jewish gangster walked into a room. This is not the beginning of a joke but is a true story.
The meeting, originated by New York Judge Nathan D. Perlman, was to have a major effect on the growth of the German Bund, the primary Nazi recruiting organization in the United States. The others in attendance were Rabbi Stephen Wise, a prominent leader with a national reputation, and Meyer Lansky, an immigrant and leader of Murder, Inc.
In 1882, there were about 250,000 Jews in the United States. By 1924, there were four million. Most of them were immigrants who fled eastern Europe better lives and escape persecution and discrimination But for many, their dreams did not come true. Many of their children grew up as rebels after they saw the way Jews were treated and did not have the same freedoms and benefits as did Christian Americans. Often beaten by neighborhood bullies, they decided to fight back to show that Jews could not only protect themselves but also inflict damage on those bullies.
It the 1930s, Hitler was gaining power in Europe and wanted more support in the US. . There were more than 100 well-known anti-Semitic groups in the US. In the 1930s, a report in Fortune magazine showed about 10% of Americans wanted all Jews to be deported. Among Hitler’s supporters here were Henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh.
While the Bund attracted only 0.2 percent of American Germans, they were fierce. The Jews were frightened of the growing number of fascist rallies which resulted in attacks.
In 1938, Perlman came up with a plan to stop the Bund. Using Jewish gangsters was an imaginative way to stop them since the the gangsters were already attacking people and didn’t care about the law. Rabbi Wise had only one demand: No one was to be killed. They offered to pay the men, noting that they were professionals, but Lansky refused. He knew what was happening to Jews in Europe and considered them his brothers. The judge said they would provide legal assistance when necessary.
GANGSTERS VS NAZIS covers activities in New York, Illinois, New Jersey, states along the Great Lakes, Nevada, and the West Coast. Sometimes the police departments and courts cooperated, sometimes they didn’t.
Newspaper coverage was also important. One of the reporters on the story was a young Eric Sevareid in Minnesota.
The epilogue closes the book with follow-up information about what happened to the people involved. Many of them served honorably in the US Military during WWII.
Benson’s writing is in an easy-to-read, punchy journalist style: short chapters with a coating of major details. It tells a story I had never heard before and found very interesting. ( )
  Judiex | Jun 1, 2022 |
Gangsters vs. Nazis: How Jewish Mobsters Battled Nazis in Wartime America, by Michael Benson, is a fascinating and engaging account of the seldom discussed opposition to the spread of Nazism and virulent nationalism during the WWII era.

A decade ago I would have said that the type of hate-filled nationalism and antisemitism that was growing in the US during the 1930s was unthinkable any longer, but as 2016 showed, I would have been wrong. As Hitler and the Nazi regime spread across Europe, groups arose here that supported not just what was happening there but seeking something similar here. It took a somewhat unlikely group to stand up openly and aggressively against, the Jewish mobsters.

This book presents the facts of the events in a manner that at times reads like a novel. It is compelling both as history (and a cautionary tale for our time) and a narrative of that moment in history. A page turner, yes, but also information that should make us question many elements of life we take for granted. People who are still largely viewed as American heroes today, such as Ford and Lindbergh, were openly antisemitic and extremely isolationist. And they did not stand out as particularly extreme to many Americans, much like today's Qanon nutjobs.

I listened to the audiobook version and the narration was very good. Gabriel Vaughan provided enough drama in his voice to make the scenes come alive but without going so far that the more fact-giving sections became boring. The book, and the narration, flowed such that the context and the events blended seamlessly.

I would recommend this to those interested in 20th century US social and political history as well as those who simply enjoy well-written history of any type. I would also recommend to those who, like myself, have seen and understand that the past few years in the US has many parallels to 1930s Germany but forget that the parallels are also to 1930s US.

Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley. ( )
  pomo58 | Apr 30, 2022 |
WW2, 1930s, 1940s, gangsters, the-mob, espionage, fascists, historical-figures, historical-places-events, historical-research, historical-setting, history-and-culture*****
This review is for the audiobook narrated by Gabriel Vaughan who makes it all the more fun all while making sure that the reader knows that this really is nonfiction!
This is the way that nonfiction history OUGHT to be presented!
Certainly, there is some salty language, violence, attitudes no longer acceptable (some never should have been but were), and some VERY unpleasant truths. But all in all, it is a terrific read!
The intro ties it all with some attitudes of today by telling us that in Captain America Comics #1 which hit the newsstands a full year before the bombing of Pearl Harbor when so much of the US was still in denial about the vile things happening in Europe, and The Captain showed what needed to be done and threw the first punch (but not the last).
From there on, the lesser-known history of the happenings in the US is presented clearly and bluntly but with wit and attitude. The publisher's blurb does a good job of getting readers interested, but you have to read the book to really appreciate it all. Great read!
I requested and received a free temporary audio copy from Tantor Audio via NetGalley. Thank you! ( )
  jetangen4571 | Apr 21, 2022 |
WW2, 1930s, 1940s, gangsters, the-mob, espionage, fascists, historical-figures, historical-places-events, historical-research, historical-setting, history-and-culture*****

This is the way that nonfiction history OUGHT to be presented!
Certainly, there is some salty language, violence, attitudes no longer acceptable (some never should have been but were), and some VERY unpleasant truths. But all in all, it is a terrific read!
The intro ties it all with some attitudes of today by telling us that in Captain America Comics #1 which hit the newsstands a full year before the bombing of Pearl Harbor when so much of the US was still in denial about the vile things happening in Europe, and The Captain showed what needed to be done and threw the first punch (but not the last).
From there on, the lesser-known history of the happenings in the US is presented clearly and bluntly but with wit and attitude. The publisher's blurb does a good job of getting readers interested, but you have to read the book to really appreciate it all. Great read!
I requested and received a free e-book copy from Kensington Books/Citadel via NetGalley. Thank you! ( )
  jetangen4571 | Apr 21, 2022 |
The book was not only informative, it was entertaining, which was a hard thing to accomplish when one considers the subject matter. Still, the author did just that. For me, the book was particularly engaging because I am Jewish, my dad was a contemporary of many of the gangsters and an immigrant from Russia, like so many of them. While we did not associate with them, we knew of them. We lived in Brooklyn, and I was familiar with the areas mentioned in the book. My uncles fought in the Golden Gloves. My aunt had Bugsy Siegel’s picture in her photo album. Abe Reles’ family lived within walking distance from my house, albeit with a change of last name. After reading this book, I learned that the lives of my family and the lives of the gangsters had many different dimensions. I didn’t know about the German organizations that had tried to spread Hitler’s Aryan supremacy in the United States. I had not heard of the German Bund in America or of the Silver Shirts, before reading this book. I didn’t realize the breadth of my father’s fear of the taint of Communism until after I read it. Also, at one time, I lived in Minnesota, near St. Louis Park. I learned that it was once a haven for Gentiles who didn’t want Jews in their neighborhood. Ironically, when I lived there, it was a haven for religious Jews and was called St. Jewish Park behind closed doors.
I have read extensively on anti-Semitism and the Holocaust and still never knew about this part of America’s history with mobsters fighting Nazis. I did not know that there were German-American organizations actively recruiting people to support Hitler’s National Socialism. I knew that Minnesota had a large pro- German, Nazi contingent, and anti-Semitism was alive and well there when I lived there too, but I did not know about the Nazi camps in the Catskills that taught children to hate. They inserted themselves in The Borscht Belt, the Jewish Haven, to recruit and convert them to Hitler’s demented plan.
The book gave me a whole different viewpoint about the idea of Jews going to the slaughter like lambs, during the Holocaust. These Jews fought back, albeit in America. In Germany, it was almost impossible to resist the mounting hate and anti-Semitic policies, but there was a strong Underground effort to stop Hitler. The mood of America, politically however, was anti-war, and the powers that be were also not always for the cause of Jews. In some ways, the current war in Ukraine is suffering from the same malaise in world opinion.
I grew up being ashamed of Murder Inc., not wanting to be associated with hoods in any way. After reading this book, I wish that most of them had not ended up so badly, because when they were called upon to defend against antisemitism, they did not shrink from the responsibility. As the reader gets to glimpse into their lives, they will discover that wherever they lived and “worked”, they were not cowardly thugs, but sometimes brave men willing to fight for their Jewish brethren when others would not or could not. In fact, no one is all bad or all good.
In America, incongruously, a judge, a rabbi, and a gangster made strange bedfellows, but they indeed slept together to fight hate. How they did it is the subject of this book, and it is a wild story that takes place, largely, over a short period of time. The author tells it with a sense of humor. He traces the history of these gangsters and he softens their edges, as he explains how they fought the influence of the Nazis in America, even when FDR did not. These were men who had been guilty of some pretty heinous crimes, but they rose to the occasion and performed heroically when called upon. Many of the names will be new to the reader, but some like Mickey Cohen, Meyer Lansky, Bugsy Siegel, Abe Reles, et al, will be on the tip of everyone’s tongues. Suffice it to say, these hoodlums and gang members knew how to be heroes as well as villains, and they worked well with their counterparts, who worked for law and order, in order to humiliate and stop the anti-Semitic effort of some wrongheaded Germans in the United States, Germans who were trying to awaken Hitler’s Aryan dream in America.
Judge Nathan Perlman, Rabbi Steven Wise and a gangster, Meyer Lansky, engineered a plan and worked together to fight Nazis. They worked tirelessly to organize the only people who could get away with the effort to defeat the pro-Hitler American-Germans who strutted in their uniforms and displayed their swastikas while shouting Heil Hitler. It is sad to think that there was so much support for Hitler in my own America, but happily, there was a group that could work under the radar to show them that Jews were not to be trifled with, by anyone, ever. ( )
  thewanderingjew | Apr 15, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
First words
Quotations
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English

None

The stunning true story of the rise of Nazism in America during the 1930s and 1940s--and the fearless Jewish gangsters and crime families who joined forces to fight back...with a vengeance. With an intense cinematic style, acclaimed nonfiction crime author Michael Benson divulges the thrilling role of Jewish mobsters like Meyer Lansky and Bugsy Siegel in stomping out the terrifying tide of Nazi sympathizers in the years leading to WWII. 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--and one of the most fascinating chapters in American history. And American organized crime.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary

Popular covers

Quick Links

Rating

Average: (4.67)
0.5
1
1.5
2
2.5
3
3.5
4 2
4.5
5 4

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 171,624,481 books! | Top bar: Always visible