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Supermob: How Sidney Korshak and His Criminal Associates Became America's Hidden Power Brokers Paperback – 4 Sep 2007

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Product details

  • Paperback: 623 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc; Reprint edition (4 Sept. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596912111
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596912113
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 4.5 x 23.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,103,702 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Ground-breaking research ...fabulous rock 'n roll writing style...Simply speaking, Russo's Supermob is a grand-slam home run. -- Dan E. Moldea, author of Dark Victory: Ronald Reagan, MCA and the Mob

No political history of our era will be complete without referencing Supermob. -- - Laurence Leamer, author of The Kennedy Men and Fantastic: The Life of Arnold Schwarzenegger

Russo’s chilling portrait of Supermob lawyer Sidney Korshak is his finest work in a brilliant career. -- Richard J. Whalen, former Senior Editor of the Wall Street Journal and Fortune, author of The Founding Father: The Story of Joseph P. Kennedy.

Supermob is super, and required reading for any student of the fine art of influence peddling. -- Dennis McDougal, author of The Last Mogul: Lew Wasserman, MCA, and the Hidden History of Hollywood

Very original and very important. -- Burton Hersh, Fulbright Scholar, and author of The Old Boys, and The Mellon Family --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By The Emperor on 11 Nov. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is an entertaining book and there are plenty of entertaining anecdotes. Ronald Reagan doesn't come out of it looking too good though! The amount of corruption is incredible.
However I am not certain exactly how true it is. A lot of the people that are involved are conveniently dead. I am certain that most of it is fact but the author doesn't seem to do that great a job of proving that it is true,
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful By P. Hardy on 15 Jun. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Marx essays are essential , especially as we are now, the Lombardo has no info jus picture after picture, the Huckstes is a flawed bu interesting US post WW2 novel in which sex is a fact of life. it also well documents the radio industry of the day. live is a neat riposte to the self glorification of Clive Davis' latest opus, while the Dance Band Era, although dated, is eveything Lombardo isn't. It een admits that musicians are interested in money. A useful guide.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 55 reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
The Myth 28 Oct. 2008
By Pugwash - Published on
In Bob Evans iconic Hollywood autobiography "The Kid Stays In The Picture", frequent mention was made of his mentor, who he would refer to as simply "The Myth".

The Myth bailed him out of situations in his life caused by his own self-destructive behavior, and also "fixed" situations for him by getting him certain actors to star in his Paramount movie vehicles.

It turned out this mythic fixer cut his teeth with Al Capone, and became a central figure in the emergence of the Mob. Sidney Korshak became the conduit between the Jewish cerebral approach to organized crime, and the Italian approach, which was more muscular.

Theodore Roosevelt was often quoted as saying "Walk softly, and carry a big stick."

This was an accurate description of Sidney Korshak. Almost anonomous outside of his massive sphere of influence, Korshak bridged the power of the unions, knew and influenced Presidents Truman, Nixon and Reagan, and insured vast sums of wealth for many of the biggest underworld figures of the 20th century.

Along the way, Korshak earned millions and invested huge sums of money in real estate ventures in Las Vegas, and around the World. Born a first generation American in a Jewish section of Chicago, Korshak radiated a quiet toughness that served him through the upper strata of business and down through the lower tiers of gangsters.

This a fascinating look at a complex character whose reach gravitated into the farthest reach of our society, as bad money became legitimate, and amoral gangsters assimilated into the mainstream business fabric of our society.

Russo comprehends this transformation and grasps Korshaks character.

This is highly recommended reading for anyone trying to get an understanding of the 20th century mob.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
A Peek Under the Covers 13 Nov. 2007
By Douglas Doepke - Published on
Format: Paperback
America loves mob melodramas, guys getting whacked because they crossed somebody or other. No one much cares whether the culprits get caught since it's all part of the underworld game. No one in authority much cares either, that is, until some hoodlum tries to beat his income tax after the gov't has demanded its cut. Then the bloodhounds of the IRS come calling and the careless capo gets a federal number.

Economists call the early stages of capital accumulation "primitive accumulation". Few academics may call 20's style bootlegging primitive accumulation, but illegal whiskey sure raised a lot of money for the Capone-led Chicago gang. And like most rising business ventures, much of that money was used by astute managers such as Murray "The Camel" Humphreys to buy influence into the over-world of politics and law. What does it matter if the money's dirty, since it's still money, as any number of corrupted Illinois officials shows.

But what happens when even a big city like Chicago becomes too small for the sums flowing into gangster coffers. Well. if you're a wizard like Humphreys, you start looking for new opportunities, especially where there is little or no competition. You also look for somebody who can pass for respectable, since you're past the primitive stage and now have the money to go legit. Enter attorney Sidney Korshak, discreet, smooth, and, above all, a protege of Jake Arvey, Chicago's master ward healer and political go-between. As Russo's lengthy account shows, the mob could not have made a better choice.

Horace Greeley's famous directive was to, "Go West, young man," and that's just where Korshak took the mob money and contacts, helping to turn dusty Las Vegas into the underworld's Glitter Gulch, and Los Angeles real estate into a permanent citadel of mob influence. Along the way, he picked up such powers in their own right as MCA's talent impresario Lew Wasserman and Democratic party power-broker Paul Ziffren, along with numerous union bigshots. Together, theirs was an underworld shadow cast across two big states with a network of contacts reaching all the way to the nation's capital.

But muscling in at the top means knowing how to cut deals with others at the top. Here Korshak proves to be the guy to go to whether the public knows his name or not. Want top talent for your TV show, see Sid; want no union trouble at the studios, see Sid; want a good deal on a tax scam, see Sid; want a big donation for a charity fund-raiser, yeah, see Sid. And all the time, there's the whispering in the background about the guy's connections with other guys, guys with guns. But then, isn't Sinatra's Rat Pack a really cool bunch of Hollywood swingers. Yeah, just ask the public or even President Kennedy.

To me, it's not a pretty picture, all the way from the yawning silence of the LA Times to the hobnobbing with Pat Brown and Ronald Reagan, plus a Hollywood establishment that could apparently care less. Scattered investigations go nowhere, while whistle-blowers like Steve Allen get black-balled for their civic duty. But then, maybe this is just another success story of primitive accumulation working its way to the top and learning to get along, even as the top learns to get along with them. I believe it was Victor Hugo who said that behind every great fortune lies a great crime. Maybe then, the Chicago mob was just more obvious than those others like old Joe Kennedy, an Irish bootlegger reborn into the white-collar world despite the sinister origins. Disturbing or not, the book is well worth the read.

As a general reader, I'm in no position to gainsay any of Russo"s facts, so I try to keep an open mind toward detractors. It's vital, however, that critics not simply denounce the work in unsubstantiated fashion. Chapter and verse should be cited in order to gain credibility. Of course, the text casts aspersions onto a number of prominent and reputable people, which places a heavy load on both the book and its detractors. Nonetheless, if Russo has to follow the rules, so should the critics.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
THE FIXER -Criminally! Politically! and Socially! 25 Dec. 2006
By Graham Hill - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Certainly mob and corporate super-lawyer Sidney Korshak would'nt rush out and buy this book -that is if he was still alive. But then, thats one of the main reasons author Gus Russo could go ahead and write about him somewhat freely and in good health. A lot of people who knew Korshak, contributed to this epic of crime and corruption, both alive and dead. From Chicago to Hollywood, the State house to the White House, Las Vegas to Beverly Hills, it's all here in great detail and chronological reference. Russo has dissected with clinical skill, the man behind all the deals and dealings. The man who could end a strike or start one. The man who could get someone elected or buried. It's a far better story than "The Godfather" which incidently he played a vital behind the scenes part in, only it's for real. He played the unions against their employers, the Republicans against the Democrats and the Hollywood studios against themselves.

This is a must-read for not just any serious student of power in America in the last century, but for anyone even slightly interested in who really runs our illusion of democracy. It's detractors may say who cares and how could any author dare to trash the cherished reputations of so many "distinquished" politicians and social crusaders. But the evidence is there and it all ties in -as in "follow the money". To the law he was "hands off", an "Untouchable" that even an army of Elliot Ness' could'nt catch. Yet to a beautiful starlet, he was more than touchable.

Wherever Sidney is now, he probably be laughing at all those ignorant and naive people, who still refuse to believe in how things really get taken care of in this everso "politically correct" world. He'd certainly want to broker the deal that would get his life story made in Hollywood. Of course it would have to be a three-picture deal and maybe if De Niro was free... Well -they've already done "The Godfather" saga, but then that was a mob fairy tale. "Casino" on the other hand, was more to the point and like all the other parts of Korshak's "wonderful life" -is fully illuminated in this super-book!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
book of circumstantial reference not a biographical narrative 28 May 2009
By Pj Elzinga - Published on
Format: Paperback
I've read Russo's previous work "the outfit" and
in the "Supermob" he repeats a lot of the same concerning Factor and humphreys.
The book could have been better edited because it
contains to much detail, sometimes not related to any Korshak interference.
The character outset of the book and conspiracy tendencies leans towards
anti-semitism, but perhaps not intentionally.
His scoop mentioning the october 1965 'Palm Springs Apalaching'contains a factual error. Russo states: "mob bosses from around the country, including ('.),longy Zwillman". As far as i know Abner 'Longy'
Zwillman died in februari 1959.
23 of 31 people found the following review helpful
Flawed and skewed filled with claims bordering on ridiculous... 18 Sept. 2006
By T. Jenkins - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Gus Russo has again produced a massive criminal volume with Sidney Korshak as the featured figure. Having anxiously awaited the release of this book I expected more focus on Korshak but found frequent mentions yet little substance inregard to Korshak in the first few chapters. Istead the author uses much of the early going to lay the foundation for the introduction of the socalled Supermob which sprang from Chicago's Jewish community. In detailing the activities of the Supermob Mr. Russo seems to include every member of the old Lawndale Jewish community who managed to rise above their humble start to acheive wealth, power and or influence. Jacob Arvey, Jules Stein (MCA founder), Paul Ziffren, Alfred Hart, Alex Louis Greenberg, Abe Pritzker (founder of Hyatt Hotels), William Paley (CBS founder), Benny Goodman, Gloria Swanson, Tom Mix, Arthur Goldberg and many many others are listed as having participated in a vast conspiracy by a close knit group of Russian Jews to takeover America.

In telling a story which involved Arnold Rothstein and Jacob Factor, it quickly became apparent that the author was taking liberty with fact. Mr. Russo details a scheme perpetraited by Rothstein and Factor which Mr. Russo says resulted in a $8 million dollar payout split between the Brain and Jake Factor in 1930. Unfortunately Rothstein was shot to death in November 1928. I guess the author is not aware that Dead men not only tell no tales but collect no debts either.

Mr. Russo goes on to claim these men conspired to control Presidential elections and institute the laws and policies such as those which led to the detention of Japanese Americans and the massive selloff of their assets at bargain basement prices. Undoubtably there was some influence in the political realm "as is always the case with anyone with money," but to say these men specifically organized and ordered this action is ridiculous.

Other dubious statements made in this book include "Las Vegas owes everything to Murray Humphries." As Mr. Russo continues where he left off in "The Outfit," with his promotion of the Chicago Italian organized crime group as the single most powerful entity in 20th century America. I found it interesting that the author could claim the Supermob controlled politicians from the local level all the way up to the White House yet the power consortium never challenged the wishes of their Italian counterparts.

Once the action began to focus on Korshak the authors desire to hammer home just how powerful he believed his subject to be becomes apparent. Without explanation he details Korshak masterminding many Hollywood deals with movie moguls who "according to the author," owed their allegiance to the Supermob. Little if any attention was paid to the fact that many of the men had ties to organized crime figures in New York established long before Korshak arrived in Los Angeles. To make a long, long, long story short, Mr. Russo's telling of events and facts are constructed in a way which simply does what he obviously intends to do. Promote Chicago organized criminality to an unchallenge plain above law and order and logic.

You can find much of the information contained in this book in Captive City, The Last Mogul, When Hollywood Had a King, Mr. and Mrs Hollywood and a number of other earlier released titles. Despite its shortcomings you have to admire Mr. Russo's enthusiasm in telling the story and compiling the information he did. Only if he would have paid more attention to Korshak's activities as an FBI informant instead of dismissing them as part of his routine in wielding power.
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