Now, we turn our attention to a topic that for generations has been a source of lurid fascination: gangsters. Ever since the Prohibition Era of the early 20th century, when organized crime came into its own in the United States, the mafia has been of great interest to Americans, attested to by the preponderance of movies and books and music about gangsters, many of whom achieve legendary status, and who continue to be, on some level, glamorized and imbued with almost heroic status.
Next month, a new biography of Bugsy Siegel will be published by Yale University Press as part of the award-winning series, Jewish Lives, where Siegel will join the ranks of Alfred Einstein, Karl Marx, Irving Berlin and Moses...
Tom's guest is Michael Cannell, a former New York Times editor and the author of several books, his latest a biography of a mobster who ended his long career as a vicious murderer by agreeing to testify against Bugsy Siegel. Having helped prosecutors convict several other of his fellow criminals, Abe Reles never got the chance to testify in open court about Siegel. His death, and the story of his path from gangster to state’s witness is chronicled in A Brotherhood Betrayed: The Man Behind the Rise and Fall of Murder, Inc.
Author Michael Cannell joins us on Zoom.