: Little Man: Meyer Lansky and the Gangster Life (Audible Audio Edition): Robert Lacey, Ron Silver, Phoenix Books: Books. Little Man: Meyer Lansky and the Gangster Life. Robert Lacey, Author Little Brown and Company $ (p) ISBN More By and About. Meyer Lansky. When you heard the name, you shivered. He was the cold-eyed financial genius behind the omnipresent, omniscient Mob.

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Little Man: Meyer Lansky and the Gangster Life by Robert Lacey

Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Little Man by Robert Lacey. Hardcover1stpages. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Little Manplease sign up. Lists with This Book.

I noticed some of the reviews on Amazon of this book called it a meyeg. I would oansky thats true to say the least. For that matter at times it almost reads like a tribute. This shouldn’t be surprising considering Laceys main primary source for this book was Lanskys son.

You would think Meyer Lansky was just a hard working business man that straddled the line of legality from time gahgster time when he ran his bootleg liquor and gambling parlors. He claims that Lansky never ordered a hit or even used I noticed some of the reviews on Amazon of this book called it a whitewash.

He claims that Lansky never ordered a hit or even used intimidation when running his rackets. The only violent incidents mentioned were streetfights growing up and Lansky allegedly going with a group of hoodlums and breaking up a “Nazi” they were actually pre-WW2 German-American nationalists meeting. Most historians acknowledge that the Mafia almost certainly had serious dirt on J. Edgar Jeyer and many think Lansky was the one that had the pics to prove it if you know what I mean.

I’ll also skip over just how Russian the “Russian” Mafia really is. Jul 22, Anthony rated it really liked it Shelves: Interesting and well written biography of Jewish gangster Meyer Lansky.

The book begins with his birth in a small Jewish village called Grodno in Eastern Europe and subsequent immigration at ten years of age to America with his family. The book details his youth as a precocious young gambler and his entry into bootlegging during Prohibition years. Navy with the lithle imprisoned Luciano to defend the East Coast from Nazi saboteurs and u-boats to his relationship and involvement with Benny Siegel in “Bugsy’s” financial adventures and consequent assassination in Las Vegas.

My biggest problem with this book is that the author is extremely sympathetic to Lansky and writes his biography almost like a tribute to him. He views Lansky like an ideal product of the American dream, a patriotic Jewish American lottle who dealt in fairly harmless vices such as gambling, carpet joints, and casinos and who relied on an aura of violence he cultivated through his underworld contacts and business associates to do “his business” while never condescending to put a hit on anyone or resorting to the use of violence himself.

The biography mxn makes it sound like America’s criminalization of gambling is what littlle the virtually harmless diminutive in stature gangster a criminal. That otherwise he’d just have been no different than any other successful businessman.


Little Man: Meyer Lansky and the Gangster Life

It also only briefly touches on his early Prohibition years, completely ignoring the fact that the Jewish-American Bugs and Meyer Mob had a reputation for being one of the most notoriously snd Prohibition gangs of the s. Was Meyer Lansky just a family man, a first-rate business man, litlte was just a shadow figure in the criminal underworld, avoiding violence as much as possible and preferring legality if given the choice? Whose reputation is one that is unfounded, blown out of proportion, and sensationalized by his associations with that eras most violent gangsters?

According to Robert Lacey, that is the case. I thoroughly enjoyed this. An un-hyped biography that dispenses with all the mythology surrounding it’s subject.

Meyer Lansky has been heralded for the past 40 years as a criminal mastermind that organized the rackets into a corporate entity that was “bigger lansiy US Steel. He ran them honestly, believed in the power of the payoff when it came to the authorities litlte the strength meuer being a m I thoroughly lithle this. He ran them honestly, believed in the power of the payoff when it came to the authorities and the strength of being a man of his word.

He was never connected by any law enforcement agency with murder or muscle. He gaangster a spotless reputation among his associates, many of whom were mobsters, as being scrupulously honest and keeping his commitments. In the 60s and 7os he began to painted as a criminal mastermind.

Law enforcement agencies shadowed him for 25 years and could never come up with anything. Of course this was taken as evidence of just how slick he was. All the hype took a toll on his life. He didn’t want the attention. When called before the Kefvauver committee in a private moment he asked Kefauver, who liked to gamble, why he was so keen on persecuting oife.

Kefauver replied “I just don’t want you people running it. And who runs gambling today? Kind of makes you think. Jan 30, Kurt rated it it was amazing. A biography is a difficult proposition. It must include the events in a persons life, but information from the early years preceding a person’s fame are not always easy to obtain lkttle to understand its context.

The events of the stubject’s associates, and the surrounding world that interacts with them can be difficult to interpret, and previously written reports necessitates reliance upon other writer’s skill and integrity in reporting.

Understanding the individuals meaning, to themselves, to othe A biography is a difficult proposition.

Understanding the individuals meaning, to themselves, to others, their emotions, desires, their achievements and disappointments is most difficult. The writer’s own sensibilities might interfere, and then he must again rely upon the impressions of others.

Even if he could interview the subject of the biography, would that interview yield anything beyond an individual’s tainted self image, or desire for remembrance? Lacey, interviewed many of the people closest to Mr.

Lansky, and researched his subject well without always drawing definite conclusions, but rather providing the ambience that would provide some sense of the subject but allowing the nebulousness of an individual’s existence. This was an excellent biography of Meyer Lansky’s life, some of the good, some of the bad, some of the triumphs, and some of the sad disappointments, but like every individual’s Rosebud, there are things we shall never know.


Jun 21, J. H Gaines rated it it was amazing. A fascinating insight into the USA and to how so much of the country was built by people like Lansky.

May 22, Neil Pierson rated it liked it. During his lifetime, Meyer Lansky was the stuff of organized crime legend. He was portrayed as the Chief Financial Officer of the Mafia, devising brilliant devices to turn illicit schemes into wealth for gangsters and accruing a great fortune himself. In reality, he was an interesting figure but nowhere near the hype. He started life as a poor, Jewish kid who emigrated to New York from Russia with his family.

He had a great faculty for numbers and became fascinated by the craps games he observed o During his lifetime, Meyer Lansky was the stuff of organized crime legend. He had a great faculty for numbers and became fascinated by the craps games he observed on New York’s sidewalks. He quickly mastered the odds, which led him to the immediate realization that the games were rigged.

He watched the scams closely and was able to predict when the games’ operators were going to allow a sucker to win. He rode along with the winners, then got off before the ride ended. He was able to win regularly as long as he didn’t get greedy and didn’t call any attention to what he was doing. Those were lessons he remembered all his life. He observed something else while watching the craps games: The bettors knew the games were rigged. But they played anyway.

A player plays even when he knows better. As an adult, Lansky’s specialty was running gambling casinos, legal or otherwise. He grasped the ironic truth: To have a long and successful criminal career, you have to be honest.

Gamblers knew that at Lansky’s casinos, the odds favored the house, but the games were fair. Lansky’s colleagues in organized crime knew that when Lansky split the proceeds, everyone got their fair share. While he was alive, it was said that Lansky could have been fabulously successful as a straight businessman. But that wasn’t true.

Most of his legitimate investments failed. His biggest investment and failure was the Riviera Hotel and Casino in Havana. Although it was the product of massive bribery of Cuban government officials and others, the hotel and casino were licensed and legal. Lansky was heavily invested and stood to make millions. But the Cuban revolution happened, the hotel and casino were seized by the government, and Lansky lost his stake. He spent the rest of his life trying to scratch together a living from skimming Las Vegas casinos and other small schemes.

Those looking for justice in the universe would be gratified by Lansky’s final years. As an old, sick man, he was denied residence in Israel; he was hounded by the FBI; the INS tried to deport him; his three children were hellishly dysfunctional; and he died broke. The government viewed Organized Crime as a corporation, when in reality it was a loose confederation of individual gangsters who ruled certain territories.

Much of the business was conducted locally, at times, neighborhood to neighborhood, block to block.