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My Father Was a Gangster: The Jim Vaus Story

Overview

One of the most fascinating conversion stories of the 20th century, My Father Was a Gangster tells the dramatic life story of Jim Vaus, the former associate of crime syndicate boss Mickey Cohen. Rarely, if ever, has there been another story of a gangster who turned so radically from a life of organized crime to a life focused on leading others to Christ.

In this book, son Will Vaus tells the inside story of his father's nefarious life in the syndicate and describes how close his...

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Overview

One of the most fascinating conversion stories of the 20th century, My Father Was a Gangster tells the dramatic life story of Jim Vaus, the former associate of crime syndicate boss Mickey Cohen. Rarely, if ever, has there been another story of a gangster who turned so radically from a life of organized crime to a life focused on leading others to Christ.

In this book, son Will Vaus tells the inside story of his father's nefarious life in the syndicate and describes how close his father came to being caught for devising a scheme that was later said to have been the inspiration for the movie, “The Sting”. Just before carrying out his plan, Jim Vaus was persuaded to drop into the famous Billy Graham tent meetings taking place in Los Angeles in 1949 and almost against his own will, found himself compelled to “walk the sawdust trail” to the front of the gathering and along with hundreds of others, give his life to Christ.

The author then describes the dramatic transformation that took place in his father's life as he makes amends for his many wrongs and sets his course on a new life that is honoring to God and that brings many others into the Kingdom.

This story has been recounted in Time Magazine, Life Magazine and Reader's Digest and was chronicled in a motion picture, “The Wiretapper.” Now it is told from a son's perspective, a son who watched his father go on to live an exemplary life, dedicated to saving others from falling victim to the life of crime that had sought to destroy him.

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Product Details

Meet the Author

William "Will" James Vaus, B.A., M.Div., has served as a pastor in California, the Carolinas and Pennsylvania. He is the president of Will Vaus Ministries, through which he has creatively communicated the love of Christ around the world since 1988. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in drama from the University of California at San Diego and a Master of Divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary. His book, Mere Theology: A Guide to the Thought of C.S. Lewis, was published by InterVarsity Press in 2004.

Will and his wife Becky have been married since 1988 and have three sons: James, Jonathan and Joshua.

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Table of Contents


Foreword     xv
Acknowledgements     xvii
Prologue     xix
Filling the Emptiness (1919-1949)
Born and Raised in Los Angeles     3
945     7
The Devil Loves a Shining Mark     11
Teenage Rampage     15
Unorganized Crime     19
In The Army Now     24
Hollywood Presbyterian Church     27
Court-Martial     30
The Wiretapper     33
Honeymoon on the Side     37
Private Detective     40
Mickey Cohen     43
Life and Death     47
A Date with Destiny     52
Finding the Fullness (1950-1957)
Making Headlines     59
Meeting with Andy     62
Cutting Ties     65
Making Things Right with Men     68
From Perjurer to Truth-Teller     73
No Turning Back     76
Right Place, Right Time     79
On The Road Again     83
The Long, Long Trailer     87
A Year of Blessings and Challenges     91
To All the World     95
Judge or Jester?     98
Wiretapper: The Movie     101
Grand CentralStation     104
Left Behind     108
Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch     112
Filling Others' Emptiness (1958-1970)
A Heart for Juvenile Delinquents     145
Surveying the Problem     148
The House on Second Avenue     152
Youth Development, Inc.     156
The Good Lopez Boy     160
A Different Kind of Notoriety     163
Changed Lives     167
The Need for a Camp     171
Into the Wild Blue Yonder     175
Camp Champion     178
Miller Fagley     182
Trouble on the Street     186
A New Problem     189
Overflowing (1971-1997)
Summit Expedition     195
Television and Radio     199
Reaching Out to Runaways     202
Never Enough Room     207
Christmas in Juvenile Hall     211
Mattie Stewart and Home Echo     215
Father and Sons     219
Home Run     222
Passing the Baton     227
Dad at Home     231
Head Waters     234
The Old Violin     238
Epilogue     243
Notes     245
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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2008

    Amazing story that would make a great movie!

    My Father Was a Gangster has many turns and twists. I couldn't put it down! Jim Vaus had an inventive mind and used it throughout his life. Got him into trouble and then used it to help others. His love reached out to thousands and still has an impact today.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2007

    Inspiring life story told by son

    My Father was a Gangster is a very intriguing and catchy title to a book that describes the life of a man who dedicated his life for youngsters in need of love and compassion. The body if the work keeps the reader engaged through out. Jim Vaus was a man whose story should be heard in this generation. Will Vaus, the author, has written a very intriguing biography of his father that caused me to be inspired, to laugh and to cry. What a wonderful story this is and Vaus¿ style of writing keeps the reader both fascinated and inspired simultaneously. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has made mistakes in their life and wonders if they can still be used by God. The answer is a resounding yes. The perspective of the life of Jim Vaus from a son¿s point of view is refreshing and insightful.

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