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History remembers Arnold Rothstein as the man who fixed the 1919 World Series, an underworld genius. The real-life model for The Great Gatsby's Meyer Wolfsheim and Nathan Detroit from Guys and Dolls, Rothstein was much more—and less—than a fixer of baseball games. He was everything that made 1920s Manhattan roar. Featuring Jazz Age Broadway with its thugs, speakeasies, showgirls, political movers and shakers, and stars of the Golden Age of Sports, this is a biography of the man who dominated an age. Arnold ...
History remembers Arnold Rothstein as the man who fixed the 1919 World Series, an underworld genius. The real-life model for The Great Gatsby's Meyer Wolfsheim and Nathan Detroit from Guys and Dolls, Rothstein was much more—and less—than a fixer of baseball games. He was everything that made 1920s Manhattan roar. Featuring Jazz Age Broadway with its thugs, speakeasies, showgirls, political movers and shakers, and stars of the Golden Age of Sports, this is a biography of the man who dominated an age. Arnold Rothstein was a loan shark, pool shark, bookmaker, thief, fence of stolen property, political fixer, Wall Street swindler, labor racketeer, rumrunner, and mastermind of the modern drug trade. Among his monikers were "The Big Bankroll," "The Brain," and "The Man Uptown." This vivid account of Rothstein's life is also the story of con artists, crooked cops, politicians, gang lords, newsmen, speakeasy owners, gamblers and the like. Finally unraveling the mystery of Rothstein's November 1928 murder in a Times Square hotel room, David Pietrusza has cemented The Big Bankroll's place among the most influential and fascinating legendary American criminals. 16 pages of black-and-white photographs are featured.
He did much of his fixing at Lindy’s Restaurant, in Times Square, spending so much time there many thought he owned it. Half of Broadway treated Lindy’s as their clubhouse. Actors in one corner; songwriters and song pluggers in another; gamblers in yet another. Damon Runyon gravitated to Lindy’s newspapermen’s section and wrote about those in the underworld section. In Guys and Dolls, Lindy’s became “Mindy’s” and Arnold Rothstein became “Nathan Detroit.” Elsewhere, Runyon turned A. R. into “Armand Rosenthal, The Brain.”
You could find A. R. in Lindy’s almost any night, making deals, lending money at rates as high as 48 percent.
Arnold Rothstein compartmentalized his whole life into various segments, some legal, most illegal—a confusing, but profitable, mix of legitimacy and corruption. Most knew him as a gambler. He was much more. His “Big Bankroll” nickname revealed far more than one might surmise. From his earliest days, he carried huge amounts on his conservatively tailored person— eventually up to $100,000.
A big bankroll conferred immense power upon the bearer. Have a scheme? See Rothstein. In a jam? Go to Rothstein. You’d get the money on the spot, no paperwork, no wait. And so, A. R. fenced millions of dollars in stolen government bonds, backed New York’s biggest bootleggers, imported tons of illegal heroin and morphine, financed shady Wall Street bucket shops, bought and sold cops and politicians.
Rothstein wasn’t merely rich, he was smart. That was how he became rich. A. R. was “The Great Brain,” smarter and savvier than those around him—no matter what crowd he was in—the gamblers, the reporters, the politicians, the hoodlums, the showpeople, the “legitimate” businessman. They knew it, he knew it; he prided himself on his overwhelming intelligence, his ability to calmly, coldly manipulate any situation.
Preface to the Paperback Edition ix
The Players in Our Drama xiii
Chapter 1 "I've Been Shot" 1
Chapter 2 "Nobody Loves Me" 15
Chapter 3 "Everyone Gambled" 23
Chapter 4 "Why Not Get Married?" 41
Chapter 5 "I've Got Plans" 52
Chapter 6 "He'll Crucify the Big Feller" 66
Chapter 7 "Let's Go Looking for Some Action" 92
Chapter 8 "Take Any Price" 104
Chapter 9 "Chicken Feed" 123
Chapter 10 "I Never Take My Troubles to the Cops" 136
Chapter 11 "Am Wiring You Twenty Grand" 147
Chapter 12 "I Wasn't In On It" 169
Chapter 13 "The Chic Thing to Have Good Whiskey" 193
Chapter 14 "The Man to See Was Arnold Rothstein" 209
Chapter 15 "I Can't Trust a Drunk" 219
Chapter 16 "I Don't Bet On ... Boxing" 232
Chapter 17 "I'm Not a Gambler" 244
Chapter 18 "I Will Be Alone" 268
Chapter 19 "Will I Pull Through?" 284
Chapter 20 Cover-up: "A Decenter, Kinder Man I Never Knew" 294
Chapter 21 "Tell Me Who is Using My Money for Dope" 316
Chapter 22 Aftermath: "A Wonderful Box" 330
Chapter 23 Case Closed: "I Did It, You Know" 343
Chapter 24 Epilogue 357
Posted May 27, 2010
This book really opened my eyes to the amount of gangs and gambling in the 1920's. This man really was a criminal genius. He fixed games and had major gambling debt with a lot of people. On occasion he would be making hundreds of thousands of dollars in a night, and the equivalent of that today is just ridiculous. Reading this has shown me that gambling was probably even more popular 90 years ago than it is today. There were so many underground gangs that were out at night in the Chicago streets. If you didn't play your cards right you ended up in jail or dead, Just as the case for Rothstein. It's really hard to describe what a life like that could lead to. For Arnold it was full of lies, cheating, and abandonment. He even put his own family in danger. This book was a lot different than I thought it was going to be, and it was very good. It was very informative, and I recommend it to anyone that enjoys baseball and learning about life in other time periods.
4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 26, 2004
Rothstein tells the story of the underside of the glitzy Broadway that reigned from the turn of the century to the end of the 1920s. Arnold Rothstein is best remembered today as the man behind the 1919 World Series fix, but that was just one example of A. R.¿s greatest ability, putting himself in a position where he could not lose. He got into nearly every conceivable area of crime and knew just when to get out, or exactly who to pay off to keep the income coming. He knew what the odds were when a sucker veered from this path, yet ¿The Big Bankroll¿ met his end after losing too much at cards and then refusing to pay his debt. Author David Pietrusza, who did a similarly masterful job with Judge and Jury: The Life and Times of Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, helps the reader return to a world where mobsters, athletes, Tammany Hall politicians, and Broadway actresses rule the city. Everyone else better get out of the way, turn their head, or put out their hand for a bribe. Pietrusza¿s research is exhaustive and brings about new conclusions on Rothstein¿including significant forms of income few ever knew about in his lifetime¿and hands us A. R.¿s killer in a 75-year-old unsolved murder case. The author even provides a preface that introduces the many underworld characters involved in the story, as well as an epilogue that tells the reader what happened to everybody after A. R. got his.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 1, 2004
Rothstein takes 500 pages to explain what you could read for yourself with a simple web search at the historical files in the New York Times (who shot Rothstein and why). You will learn a lot of names, a lot of places, but not much else. Author kicks over a few rocks, then moves onto the next name dropper in the story. The background information is more valuable than the story of Rothstein (for folks interested in New York City and the birth of the underworld.) Rothstein would give the book long odds, maybe 20-1, but Rothstein liked betting on winners with long odds. Give the book 3 stars for effort and scope.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 14, 2012
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