One of the most notorious Jewish mobsters of the 20th century – Bugsy Siegel – is explored in all his complexity in a captivating new biography from Michael Shnayerson.
In a brief life that began in 1906 and led to a violent end in 1947, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel rose from desperate poverty to ill-gotten riches, from an early- 20th century family of Ukrainian Jewish immigrants on the
Lower East Side to a kingdom of his own making in Las Vegas. Through the 1920s, 1930s, and most of the 1940s, Bugsy Siegel and his long-time partner in crime, Meyer Lansky, engaged in innumerable acts of violence, including founding the organised crime group, Murder, Inc, as well
as bootlegging and illegal gambling.
As the Second World War came to an end, Siegel saw the potential for a huge, elegant casino resort in the sands of Las Vegas. He helped bring The Flamingo to fruition, but success didn’t come easily for the casino and, just as he was beginning to turn a profit, his life was abruptly ended in
a murder that remains unsolved to this day.
Bugsy Siegel: The Dark Side of the American Dream by Michael Shnayerson is published by Yale University Press, priced £16.99
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