Academic journal article The Historian

Prohibition Gangsters: The Rise and Fall of a Bad Generation

Academic journal article The Historian

Prohibition Gangsters: The Rise and Fall of a Bad Generation

Article excerpt

Prohibition Gangsters: The Rise and Fall of a Bad Generation. By Marc Mappen. (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2013. Pp. 256. $24.95.)

This volume is a collective biography of the legendary characters from the Prohibition era who turned organized crime into big business. Marc Mappen explores the most notorious crimes, the bloody violence, the cities that hosted crime syndicates, and the colorful cast of characters who gained notoriety by their associations with the mob. His approach helps to illuminate the generational rivalries, the ethnic animosities, and the strange allegiances and frequent betrayals that characterized mob activity in this period. Although it is not comprehensive in its coverage nor an argument-driven monograph, it is an entertaining read and suitable for a broad audience.

Mappen is primarily interested in the spectacle of the mob, and his eye is drawn to the most spectacular aspects of organized crime. He does not explore the actual operations of criminal enterprises or the strategies of organization-building undertaken by mob leaders, other than perhaps the murder of rivals. Nor does Mappen make any pretense of offering definitive analyses or interpretations of the events he explores. …

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