Bugsy Siegel: The Dark Side of the American Dream

by Michael Shnayerson

In a brief life that led to a violent end, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel (1906-1947) rose from desperate poverty to ill-gotten riches, from an early-twentieth-century family of Ukrainian Jewish immigrants on the Lower East Side to a kingdom of his own making in Las Vegas. In this captivating portrait, author Michael Shnayerson sets out not to absolve Bugsy Siegel but rather to understand him in all his complexity. Through the 1920s, 1930s, and most of the 1940s, Bugsy Siegel and his longtime partner in crime Meyer Lansky engaged in innumerable acts of violence. As World War II came to an end, Siegel saw the potential for a huge, elegant casino resort in the sands of Las Vegas. Jewish gangsters built nearly all of the Vegas casinos that followed. Then, one by one, they disappeared. Siegel’s story laces through a larger, generational story of eastern European Jewish immigrants in the early- to mid-twentieth century.

My thoughts: I got this as an audio book to give my eyes a rest, as I’m really having trouble with them. I very much enjoyed listening to this look at the life of Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, as I really hadn’t known a lot about him beyond the casino and his gruesome end. It’s a good dive into his life as a Jewish gangster who had to really work his way up from nothing, and became fairly powerful in his own right. He was always just a bit full of himself, and I think it came back to bite him later on. He felt he was invincible and it turned out that he was not. The description of his final evening after he gets home becomes quite graphic and beyond. Overall, it was a good experience, I enjoyed the narrator’s voice and the book was good. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Michael Shnayerson, and the publisher.

Publisher: Tantor Audio, Unabridged edition
Publication: Feb 9th, 2021
My rating: 4/5 STARS
Format: Audio CD
Narrated by Steven Jay Cohen
Time: 7 hours 12 minutes

Bugsy Siegel

About the author
Michael Shnayerson became a contributing editor at Vanity Fair in 1986 and is the author of eight books on a range of nonfiction subjects, including Boom: Mad Money, Mega Dealers, and the Rise of Contemporary Art. He lives in New York City.

Steven Jay Cohen has been telling stories his whole life, and has worked professionally as a storyteller since 1991. A classically trained actor, he has worked both on stage and behind the microphone for most of his career. Born and raised in Brooklyn, Steven now resides in scenic western Massachusetts.

2 thoughts on “Book Review (ARC) ~ BUGSY SIEGEL

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.