King of the Jews: The Arnold Rothstein Story

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9780141005331: King of the Jews: The Arnold Rothstein Story

So begins Nick Tosches's sprawling biography of Arnold Rothstein, which, in fact, is so much more: not only an elegy to old New York but an idiosyncratic history of the world as told in Nick Tosches's inimitable style.

Known by many names -- A. R., Mr. Big, The Fixer, The Big Bankroll, The Man Uptown, and The Brain -- Rothstein seemed more myth than man. He was gambling, and he was money. The inspiration for Meyer Wolfsheim in The Great Gatsby and Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls, he was rumored to be the mastermind of the Black Sox scandal, the fixing of the 1919 World Series. He was Mr. Broadway and had his own booth at Lindy's Restaurant in Manhattan, where he held court.

Now, in King of the Jews, Nick Tosches, "one of the greatest living American writers" (Dallas Observer), examines Rothstein's extraordinary legacy by placing him at the center of nothing less than the history of the entire Western world.

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About the Author:

Nick Tosches is the acclaimed author of many books, including biographies of Jerry Lee Lewis, Dean Martin, and Sonny Liston. He writes for numerous periodicals, including Vanity Fair, where he is a contributing editor. He lives in New York City.

From Publishers Weekly:

Readers who make it to the end of this unusual book may already have asked themselves the author's closing questions: "Why am I writing this, and why are you reading it?" Those cracking the binding in hopes of encountering a new biography of mobster Arnold "the Brain" Rothstein, rumored to be the fixer behind the 1919 World Series scandal, will do some mental scratching at the lengthy introductory discourses on the etymology of "dice" and the Torah's variant names for God. Tosches is attempting to use the figure of the Tammany Hall–era gangster as an entry point for an idiosyncratic, wide-ranging history of Western civilization. Rothstein himself really doesn't appear until two-thirds of the way into the book (although earlier chapters about religion, fascism, political correctness and other subjects of interest to the author alternate with excerpts on the criminal from an old Brooklyn newspaper and from surrogate's court proceedings). This despite Tosches's representations—unsupported, alas—that the gangster deserves further study and attention "[b]ecause Arnold Rothstein is a shadow figure beyond good and evil." But by giving short shrift to the details of the endemic corruption plaguing New York City during Rothstein's reign, the author fails to make his case that misconduct by police and elected officials was at least as reprehensible. Agent, Russ Galen.(May 3)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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