“Deliciously snappy.” American Jewish World
“Karlen brings back the days when Peggy Lee walked into Augie’s straight off the bus from North Dakota, when mid-century celebrities like Frank Sinatra visited Hennepin Avenue, and when the most powerful crime lords in the land checked their guns at the door when they visited Augie’s.” MinnPost
“Augie’s Secrets is filled with stunning, stylish prose that captures the flavor of the Jewish underworld of downtown Minneapolis down to its last rubout and pastrami sandwich.” Paul Maccabee, author of John Dillinger Slept Here: A Crooks’ Tour of Crime and Corruption in St. Paul, 1920–1936
Neal Karlen, who has written for the New York Times, Newsweek, and Rolling Stone, is the author or co-author of six books.
The man who has remained silent for more than a decade finally speaks, revealing the gritty true story of his life inside the infamous South Boston Irish mob led by the elusive, Machiavellian kingpin Whitey Bulger, who to this day remains on the lam as one of the world's Ten Most Wanted criminals, second only to Osama bin Laden.
John "Red" Shea was a top lieutenant in the South Boston Irish mob, rising to this position at the age of twenty-one. Thus began his tutelage under the notorious Irish godfather James "Whitey" Bulger. An ice-cold enforcer with a legendary red-hot temper, Shea was a legend among his Southie peers in the 1980s. From the first delivery truck he robbed at thirteen to the start of his twelve-year federal sentence for drug trafficking at twenty-seven, Shea was a portrait in American crime -- a terror, brutal and ruthlessly ambitious. Drug dealer, loan shark, money launderer, and multimillion-dollar narcotics kingpin, Shea was at the pinnacle of power -- until the feds came knocking and eventually obliterated the legendary mob in a well-orchestrated sweep of arrests, fueled by insider tips to the FBI and DEA.
While Bulger's other top men turned informant to save their own hides, Shea alone kept his code of honor and his mouth shut -- loyalty that earned him a dozen years of hard time even as the man he was protecting turned out to be, himself, a rat. For in the end, in a remarkable show of betrayal, Bulger turned out to be the FBI's "main man" and top informant -- tipping off the feds for decades while still managing to operate one of the most murderous and profitable organized crime outfits of all time.
In Rat Bastards, Shea brings that mysterious world and gritty urban Irish American street culture into sharp focus by telling his own story -- of his fatherless upbringing, his apprenticeship on the tough streets of Southie, and his love affair with trouble, boxing, and then the gangster life. In prose that is refreshingly honest, personal, and surprisingly tender, Shea tells his harrowing, unflinching, and unapologetic story. A man who did the crime, did the time, and held fast to the Irish code of silence, which he was raised to follow at any cost, Shea remains a man of honor and in doing so has become a living legend. One of the last of a dying breed, a true stand-up guy.
Shea expects no forgiveness and makes no excuses for the life he chose. His story is intense, compelling, and in your face.
Drawing on secret government documents from archives in the United States and Europe, this myth-busting biography tells the real story from Luciano's early days as a top hit man for the Mob to his exploits running sex and narcotics empires. His criminal career abruptly ended with conviction and imprisonment, but his reputation was only enhanced by rumors that he was winning World War II for the Allies in Sicily and the Mediterranean. Now, for the first time, author Tim Newark exposes the truth about what Luciano really did do to help the Allies in the war.
With his expulsion from the United States after the war ended, Luciano returned to Italy. He was reputed to have overseen a massive transatlantic narcotics network and became the arch-villain for international law enforcement agencies. But Newark reveals how Luciano really spent his twilight years.
Lucky Luciano: The Real and the Fake Gangster turns accepted Mafia history on its head with an extraordinary story that has never been told before.
Karlen charts the beginning of Yiddish as a minor dialect in medieval Europe that helped peasant Jews live safely apart from the marauders of the First Crusades. Incorporating a large measure of antique German dialects, Yiddish also included little scraps of French, Italian, ancient Hebrew, Aramaic, the Slavic and Romance languages, and a dozen other tongues native to the places where Jews were briefly given shelter. One may speak a dozen languages, all of them Yiddish.
By 1939, Yiddish flourished as the lingua franca of 13 million Jews. After the Holocaust, whatever remained of Yiddish, its worldview and vibrant culture, was almost stamped out—by Jews themselves. Yiddish was an old-world embarrassment for Americans anxious to assimilate. In Israel, young, proud Zionists suppressed Yiddish as the symbol of the weak and frightened ghetto-bound Jew—and invented modern Hebrew.
Today, a new generation has zealously sought to explore the language and to embrace its soul. This renaissance has spread to millions of non-Jews who now know the subtle difference between a shlemiel and a shlimazel; hundreds of Yiddish words dot the most recent editions of the Oxford English Dictionary.
The Story of Yiddish is a delightful tale of a people, their place in the world, and the fascinating language that held them together.