Miami Babylon: Crime, Wealth, and Power---A Dispatch from the Beach

Overview

From its beginnings in the 1890s, Miami Beach has been a place made by visionaries and hustlers. During Prohibition, Al Capone had to muscle into its bootlegging and gambling businesses. After December 1941, when the Beach was the training ground for half a million army recruits, even the war couldn't stop the party. After a short postwar boom, the city's luck gave out. The big hotels went bankrupt, the crime rate rose, and the tourists moved on to Disney World and the Caribbean. Even after the Beach hosted both ...

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Overview

From its beginnings in the 1890s, Miami Beach has been a place made by visionaries and hustlers. During Prohibition, Al Capone had to muscle into its bootlegging and gambling businesses. After December 1941, when the Beach was the training ground for half a million army recruits, even the war couldn't stop the party. After a short postwar boom, the city's luck gave out. The big hotels went bankrupt, the crime rate rose, and the tourists moved on to Disney World and the Caribbean. Even after the Beach hosted both national political conventions in 1972, nobody would have imagined that this sandy backwater of run-down hotels and high crime would soon become one of the country's most important cultural centers.

But in 1981, 125,000 Cubans arrived by the boatload. The empty streets of South Beach, lined with dilapidated hotels, were about to be changed irrevocably by the culture of money that moved in behind cocaine and crime. Gerald Posner takes us inside the intertwined lives of the politicians, financiers, nightclub owners, and real estate developers who have fed the Beach's unquenchable desire for wealth, flash, and hype: the German playboy who bought the entire tip of South Beach with $100 million of questionable money; the mayoral candidate who said, "If you can't take their money, drink their liquor, mess with their women, and then vote against them, you aren't cut out for politics"; the Staten Island thug who became king of the South Beach nightclubs and, when his empire unraveled, saved himself by testifying against the mob; the campaign manager who calls himself the "Prince of Darkness" and got immunity from prosecution in a fraud case by cooperating with the FBI against his colleagues; and the former Washington, D.C., developer who played hardball with city hall and became the Beach's first black hotel owner.

From the mid-level coke dealers and their suitcases of cash to the questionable billions that financed the ocean-view condo towers, the Beach has seen it all. Posner's singular report tells the real story of how this small urban beach community was transformed into a world-class headquarters for American culture within a generation. It is a story built by dreamers and schemers-and a steroid-injected cautionary tale.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[A] thoroughly entertaining analysis of one of the original American pleasure domes and the good times that continue to roll." —-Publishers Weekly
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400184415
  • Publisher: Tantor Media, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/15/2009
  • Format: MP3
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Ships to U.S.and APO/FPO addresses only.

Meet the Author


Gerald Posner is the chief investigative reporter for the Daily Beast and the author of ten bestselling books, including the Pulitzer Prize finalist Case Closed; Motown: Music, Money, Sex, and Power; Mengele: The Complete Story; and Secrets of the Kingdom: The Inside Story of the Saudi-U.S. Connection. His investigative articles have appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Newsweek, and Time, and have included such scoops as Pete Rose's gambling addiction, Argentina's hidden Nazi files, secrets about the Oklahoma City bombing, and questions over the death of Princess Diana. He is married to author Trisha Posner. Winner of several AudioFile Earphones Awards and a multiple finalist for the APA's prestigious Audie Award, Alan Sklar has narrated nearly two hundred audiobooks, including Black Hawk Down by Mark Bowden, The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings by Thomas Maier, and The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright. Named a Best Voice of 2009 by AudioFile magazine, his work has earned him a Booklist Editors' Choice Award (twice), a Publishers Weekly Listen-Up Award, and Audiobook of the Year by ForeWord magazine. The Dartmouth graduate's theatre credits include Hamlet, The Taming of the Shrew, The Seagull, and many modern roles. Alan has also narrated thousands of corporate videos for clients such as NASA,Sikorsky Aircraft, IBM, Dannon, Pfizer, AT&T, and SONY. For several years, he has been the spokesman for TracFone Wireless Co. and can often be seen and heard on TracFone radio and TV spots and infomercials."I am so pleased, as is my husband, to have found a narrator that holds our attention so well that we have come to compare every other narrator to him (you). So far we have found none with such a talent as yours. We very much plan to listen to as many of your works as we can find." -Sandi King, a letter to Mr. Sklar
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