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on 9 February 2013
A rather mixed bag, this one. Parts are very interesting, while others are over long and unnecessarily detailed.
This is not a chronological biography in any way resembling the outstanding book by Leo Katcher: rather it picks up various details that appeared in Katcher's book which it then expands, clarifies or seeks to correct, as the case may be. As it is a relatively recent work, as opposed to Katcher's of 1959, one must assume that recent research has enabled Mr. Pietrusza to correct some earlier misconceptions. I am in no position to judge. What I can say, however, is that the earlier book was more comprehensive, and at the same time, concise. In fact, if I hadn't read the earlier work first, I would be somewhat confused by the selective approach that Pietrusza adopts towards his subject. He clearly prefers to deal with different aspects of Rothstein's life according to the subject matter rather than to timeline.
There are several nuggets of information to be found here that did not appear earlier, but you would really have to be familiar with the Rothstein story to appreciate them. The whole 1919 World Series episode is overworked, and becomes somewhat tiresome to read, without really adding anything of substance to what I already knew. It is stuffed full of shady characters, adding a lot of unnecessary detail, and I was relieved when I finally got to the end of this section.
The chapter dealing with the possible assassin was, on the other hand, most revealing and worthwhile.
As I have already said, this book is good in parts, and certainly worth reading if you want to know more than you would find in the average biography, but it is more in the nature of a complementary book than a biography in its own right.
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on 20 May 2006
Arnold Rothstein was the first of the modern Mob Godfathers- but he was refreshingly different from the thugs and sneaks who hold similar positions in the modern world. He used his brain to create complex and intelligent money making scheme's and avoided violence whenever possible. He was one of the first to recognise the power that the plug ugly street gangs actually had and the amount of money that translated into. Among his many nick-names was 'The Brain'. A label he certainly deserved.

So why is he relatively unknown compared to the Capones and Lansky's of the underworld? I don't know but this book goes some way towards righting this injustice.

This is the first attempt to understand Rothstein since John Koblers excellent 'The Big Bankroll' of the 1950s, which as been accepted as the definitive guide to Rothstein for over half a century. Although Pietrusza had a bigger 'try following that' problem than most he has managed to share the gold medal podium with Kobler by enlarging the information already in print and actually uncovering some revelations of his very own! Considering the subject of the book died in 1928 that is something of a miracle and the author deserves recognition for his skills as a researcher and a writer.

Going into more detail, especially on the 1919 'Blacksox' baseball scandal and Rothsteins 'unsolved' murder, Pietrusza has sharply observed the lesser known area's of his subjects life and used excellent research to shine a light on them.

His writing style is to the point and never stuffy. Which can sometimes make the reader unaware of the sheer volume of facts they are digesting whilst reading material that moves as fast as a thriller.

Excellent. Early Mob Essential.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 19 December 2010
Arnold Rothstein used his brain to elevate the crude and bludgeoning style of the typical participant of organised crime into more of a slick corporate business with him, naturally at the top. Whereas other hoodlums looked the part and acted the part in their brash, crude and brutal activities, Rothstein skilfully and with great finesse and cunning, outshone them all in in the art of being a covert criminal genius.

This well researched and written book carefully examines each of his criminal activities which included casino's and speakeasies in the Tenderloin District of Manhattan, bootlegging during Prohibition, the fixing, for betting coups of horse races, even baseball matches and almost every other dishonest activity. It was widely thought, but never proven that he was the mastermind behind one of the greatest sporting scandals ever, the 'throwing' of matches by members of the Chicago White Sox in the World Series thus enabling Rothstein to make a significant sum betting against Chicago; an incident known as the "Black Sox Scandal."

It was, alas his greed and meanness that finally brought about his demise; he refused to pay-up a large card gambling debt, claiming the game was fixed but a few days later, and in probable retribution was mortally wounded - his death being linked to his refusal to settle his gambling debts.

Recommended reading for followers of crime and the under-belly of New York in the late 1800's and early 1900's.
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on 25 February 2013
History may remember Arnold Rothstein as the man who fixed the 1919 World Series; however this book does an excellent job of explaining how Rothstein's influence and power was far more widespread than a single World Series fix. From humble beginnings hustling in local pool halls, Rothstein's ambition and drive leads him to becoming one of the leading crime figures of the 20th Century.

The author, David Pietrusza, has painstakingly researched every aspect of criminal life in the 'Roaring 20s' and we are introduced not only to Rothstein, but a host of other characters, whether they be politicians, criminals, union leaders or even somebody who is simply financially indebted to Rothstein. These characters add further credence to truth of how powerful Rothstein was, through his various enterprises, bootlegging, casino owner and loan shark. The reader is also introduced to the personal turmoil Rothstein faced throughout his life, with his wife and family.

In my opinion the book is at its best once prohibition has been put into force, before this, Rothstein is mainly a go between for crooked politicians and the underbelly of New York City. Rothstein's true genius is exposed when he becomes one of the first to realise that securing routes and distribution for bootlegging was one of the most profitable businesses to have. From here we learn the extravagant lengths taken to ensure that New York and surrounding cities alike, were never to far from their next liquor shipment, the money earned, the characters involved and the consequences, all make for a very interesting read.

The only reason I fell short of rating this book 5*, is that at times the book becomes to preoccupied with facts of bit part characters and this draws away from Rothstein's more interesting pursuits.

In conclusion, the book is a must read for any fan of true crime, reading this in combination with some light personal research, would further magnify the impact Arnold Rothstein had on the criminal world in the 1920's.
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on 18 March 2013
I brought it with the idea of a holiday read, but the book was not for saving I read it and loved it. A great story and for a paper back it hold's good with 484 pages good value for money.
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on 16 February 2015
This book was a useful insight into the life of Arnold Rothstein. The book told us of his infamous fixing of the 1919 world series and his gambling career. The book also goes into depth of Rothsteins relationship with his family and goes into depth of his mysterious murder. However, I personally wish the book further explained Rothsteins influence on bootlegging and his relationships with other mobsters. Ultimately the book was interesting and honest. I feel it narrowly deserved a four star rating.
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on 23 December 2013
Great story you can imagine all the protagonists as if u wer there the sign of a great book. .AR
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 27 September 2012
It is obvious that David Pietrusza did a tremendous amount of research on Arnold Rothstein and the times in which he lived; and, for the most part, he does a very good job in implementing a huge amount of facts about Rothstein's personal life, his many various criminal activities, his political connections, and his association with a "who's who" of gangsters, gamblers and politicians during the first quarter of the 20th century.

If you've ever had a strong interest in learning about the life of Arnold Rothstein, the gambler/gangster who was widely believed to be "The Brain" behind the 1919 Black Sox Scandal and numerous other fixed gambling events, then you're likely to be a big fan of Pietrusza's chronicle of his life titled Rothstein: The Life, Times and Murder of the Criminal Genius Who Fixed the 1919 World Series. I emphasize "strong interest" because this book provides so many details about so many aspects of Rothstein's life, activities and associations that it it could just as easily been titled The Encyclopedia of Arnold Rothstein.

Personally, I had the level of interest in Arnold Rothstein life that enabled me to enjoy this book a lot. Be forewarned, however, that readers having less than a "strong interest" are likely to find the depth and breadth of the details provided to be tedious reading, resulting in them being likely to skim through various sections of this book.

I hope this review is helpful in deciding if this book is worthy of your time and money.
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on 30 January 2016
Really pleased with this book, delivered quickly from across the 'pond'. Well done
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on 21 May 2015
Starts off promisingly but peters out towards the end - much like it's subject.
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