One of the more fascinating areas related to gambling is the role of organized crime in creating an atmosphere or environment where people could play--legally or illegally. People have been gamblingHoward Schwartz, the "librarian for gamblers," is the marketing director for Gambler's Book Club in Las Vegas, a position he has held since 1979. Author of hundreds of articles on gambling, his weekly book reviews appear in numerous publications throughout the gaming industry. Howard's website is www.gamblersbook.com for centuries, openly and behind closed doors. Meanwhile, certain groups have sought to profit and control these money-making operations.
Here are five books and their thumbnail descriptions which focus on individuals and specific locations in the U.S. and elsewhere. It's a combination of history and how politics, gambling and crime all share the same bed.
Philadelphia's Black Mafia--A Social and Political History by Sean Patrick Griffin (210 pages, paperbound, $42). Illustrated, indexed, with great reference resources, this book goes back to the 1960s to the group's origins; a virtual "who's who" of key players; how law enforcement responded and a history of African-American organized crime. The book includes the oath of membership; rules for members and guidelines for obtaining government funding. An excellent resource for anyone researching the subject.
Tough Jews (Fathers, Sons and Gangster Dreams) by Rich Cohen (275 pages, paperbound, $13). This history of Jewish organized crime focuses on Brooklyn, particularly the southern part of the borough. It includes material on Meyer Lansky, Bugsy Siegel, Louis Lepke and Abe Reles. This is Brooklyn in the 1930s and 1940s, with memories of Larry King, the television talk show host (whose name was Zeiger before he changed it). Illustrated and indexed, it's one of the best ever on the subject.
Paddy Whacked (The Untold Story of the Irish American Gangster) by T.J. English (468 pages, hardbound, $27.95). English, who also wrote the classic The Westies, profiles Whitey Bulger, Bugs Moran, Owney Madden among others, with locales like New York, Cleveland, Boston, Kansas City. It is illustrated and indexed with hundreds of reference sources.
Paper Fan (The Hunt for Triad Gangster Steven Wong) by Terry Gould (500 pages, paperbound, $16.95).
Investigative reporter Gould traces the hunt for Wong (nicked named Paper Fan) from the Pacific Rim to Macau, Cambodia and the Philippines. The book explains the difficulty authorities face in keeping up with the Chinese underworld as well as an explanation or cause of the Chinese passion for gambling. A fascinating trip to a world few people will ever enter but which generates billions of dollars a year.
Organized Crime (An Inside Guide to the World's Most Successful Industry) by Paul Lunde (192 pages, hardbound, $30). This guidebook/directory includes sections on British organized crime, the Russian Mafiya, Albanian crime groups, the Yakuza (Japan), the Triads and Tong, the Mexican Cartels, Jamaican Yardies and Posses and the Colombian crime cartels. Illustrated, it Also contains maps, showing locations of crime groups; a table of organization and "inside" information like slang language. Includes some of the biggest "white collar" stock scams of our generation in this country and internationally.
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