Mention the word “gangster” and the first images that usually spring to mind are Italian Tony Soprano-type wiseguys or rough Irish guys protecting their turf. Rarely does a person image a young Jewish man who leaves the gun, takes the cannolis and takes holy the Sabbath.
The way the world, or at least the United States, thinks about gangsters is about to change with the publishing of the definitive book on Jewish gangsters. The Brownsville Boys: Jewish Gangsters of Murder, Inc. is a “lavishly illustrated, printed and boxed” according to the New York Times.
The book might also become the world’s most expensive gangster book. The collector’s item, measuring more than a foot high and six inches wide, goes on sale in New York this weekend for $4200.
Written by a crime scholar at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in a noir style, The Brownsville Boys: Jewish Gangsters of Murder, Inc., features twenty original color etchings of the likes of Louis Buchalter (his mother called him Little Louis or Lepkele), Albert (Tick Tock) Tannenbaum, Irving (Knadles) Nitzberg, Philip (Little Farfel) Cohen, Morris (Moey Dimples) Wolinsky and other Jewish assassins.
“Sixty copies of the book were printed. About 10 went free to its contributors. Twenty — including about half at an early discount price of $3,800 — were sold to institutions like the Library of Congress, John Jay, Yale, the University of California at Los Angeles, Stanford, the University of Delaware and Wesleyan.”
Almost all of the men featured in the book hail from the borough of Brooklyn.