Before the gut-busting eating contests and franchise stores across the country, there was a single man, Nathan Handwerker. An Eastern European Jewish immigrant who left the small provincial world he knew for a fresh start in America, Nathan arrived at Ellis Island speaking not a word of English, unable to read or write, and with twenty-five dollars hidden in his shoes. He had a simple goal: work hard and carve out a piece of the American dream. But history had bigger plans for Nathan.
Beginning in 1916, with just five feet of counter space on Coney Island’s Surf Avenue, Nathan sells his frankfurters for five cents. As New York booms, bringing trains and patrons to the seashore, so too does Nathan’s humble frankfurter stand. Soon Nathan’s Famous takes over the whole block, and Nathan gathers around him a dedicated core of workers (many who stay for decades) who help launch the hot dog as an American food staple.
Even as the business soars, Nathan remains fiercely loyal to what matters most: his customers, workers, and family. There’s Ida, the wife he fell in love with because no one could peel an onion faster; Sammy, the counterman who could serve an astonishing sixty franks per minute; and then there are the heirs to the empire, Murray and Sol, whose differing visions for the future lead to clashes with their eternally demanding father. Success brings difficulties, and as the two sons vie over control of the family business, a universal story of success and ambition plays out, mirroring the corporatization of the American food industry.
Written by Nathan’s own grandson, and at once a portrait of a man, a family, and the changing face of a nation through a century of promise and progress, Famous Nathan is a dog's tale that snaps and satisfies with every page.
In a small village in upstate New York, mob bosses from all over the country—Vito Genovese, Carlo Gambino, Joe Bonanno, Joe Profaci, Cuba boss Santo Trafficante, and future Gambino boss Paul Castellano—were nabbed by Sergeant Edgar D. Croswell as they gathered to sort out a bloody war of succession.
For years, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover had adamantly denied the existence of the Mafia, but young Robert Kennedy immediately recognized the shattering importance of the Appalachian summit. As attorney general when his brother JFK became president, Bobby embarked on a campaign to break the spine of the mob, engaging in a furious turf battle with the powerful Hoover.
Detailing mob killings, the early days of the heroin trade, and the crusade to loosen the hold of organized crime, fans of Gus Russo and Luc Sante will find themselves captured by this momentous story. Reavill scintillatingly recounts the beginning of the end for the Mafia in America and how it began with a good man in the right place at the right time.