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The Purple Gang: Organized Crime in Detroit 1910-1945 Paperback – 1 Dec 2004

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 17 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
The Purple Gang of Detroit 24 Feb 2003
By RDtoo - Published on
Format: Hardcover
As another reviewer pointed out, this is an important book because it is the only book on the Purple Gang. How this gang has escaped serious study is beyond me. Growing up in the Detroit area their name has popped up over the years many many times, as some oldtimer recollects or a house that once was a Purple Gang hideout is bulldozed, stuff like that. One time in the Detroit Public Library I went into the history room and they asked for my ID and I jokingly said, "what do you think I am in the Purple Gang or something?" The guy who asked laughed and said "funny you should say that. A writer has been trying to research the Purple Gang, and is having a hell of a time. It seems like most of the police files on them have somehow disappeared". I cannot vouch for that info, but I suppose that it was the author of this book that was doing the research and maybe that explains why there is so little info available. For that reason alone, despite the grammatical errors that others found annoying, I give it 5 stars. I found it a fascinating read.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Could Have Been Better 10 Oct 2001
By Rick "Mad Dog" Mattix - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I eagerly awaited Paul Kavieff's The Purple Gang and in some ways it was worth the wait. It's certainly the best book written on this notorious gang but mainly because it's the only one. There's a lot of good background info on the gang and some great photos. Because of this, unlike some reviewers, I won't quibble about the writing style and the typos. I read the book from cover to cover and this did not bother me in the slightest. One thing I, as a fellow crime historian, found highly annoying, though, and which detracts from Kavieff's obvious research, is his vagary on dates. A serious history providing otherwise detailed accounts of murders or other events should not begin with "one fateful day in 1923" or "early in 1933." Times, places, etc. are given in detail but dates are maddeningly few in this book on the sordid side of Detroit's history. The latter phrase, leading into the murders of Purple Gangsters Abe Axler and Ed Fletcher, is also way off. Axler and Fletcher were slain on November 26, 1933, certainly not early in the year. Many crime historians also wonder if there may have been a connection between their killings and that of Verne Miller, triggerman in the Kansas City Massacre, who was also slain in Detroit just three days later. These three homicides were heavily covered in the Detroit press at the time and it's a wonder Kavieff didn't delve into this further. The Purples' alleged connection to the St. Valentine's Day Massacre is also highly doubtful. It's a worthwhile book for crime historians and deserving of a second edition but with considerable rewrite.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Criminals, First and Last 16 Aug 2000
By Daniel G. Berk - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This book probably contains more information on the individuals comprising the organization commonly known as The Purple Gang than any other single source. In addition to being informative, it effectively de-mythologizes and de-romanticizes the characters involved, and reveals them for what they really were, vicious, violent, and evil men. The one downside in the book is that the prose leaves something to be desired, and I discovered a number of grammatical errors, which were somewhat disconcerting. But for that, I would have considered this a five, rather than a four-star book.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Great topic -- disappointing result 11 Dec 2000
By Leonard Was - Published on
Format: Hardcover
After hearing an interview with the author on a local radio show I couldn't wait to buy this book.
I live in Hamtramck, less than a mile from where the Purples got their start, and I was hoping for a definitive chronicle of their rise and fall, with names, dates and locations that I could relate to. Instead, I got an extended, poorly-edited outline that begged for more detailed and specific exposition.
While I don't regret my purchase I was sorely disappointed and sincerely hope that Mr. Kavieff will expand his research and revise the book with the assistance of a more competent editor and publisher. I also strongly recommend he read Lowell Cauffiel's "Masquerade" for pointers on how to write a masterful tale of the Detroit underbelly.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Poor editing makes this book unreadable 22 Sep 2000
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I agree with the review above. The treatment of the subject matter was anecdotal and superficial. However, I could have lived with that, had the book been more readable on a literary level. Shame on the editor for letting this book be printed in the shape it was. The typos, redundancies and grammatical mistakes were so distracting that I almost didn't finish the book.
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