BOOK REVIEW ~ They Called Him a Gangster

They Called Him a Gangster: My Secret Life with Meyer Lansky, the Financial Genius Behind the Mafia


 

Synopsis:
A powerful memoir about a secret life with the head of the mafia.

Only few people are well acquainted with Meyer Lansky, known as the ‘Mob’s Accountant’ who, in his youth, managed the investments of the New York mafia and was considered one of the leading figures of the city’s underworld.

Most of the stories known to the public are related to his past illegal activities. But as we are all aware, there is more than one side to every story.

The Other Side of the Story is a captivating biography that sheds a positive new light on the character of the “Gangster”.
Zali de Toledo was a teenager who arrived in Israel into a new culture, wishing simply to make a fresh start in her beloved country.

While working as a waitress in the “Dan” hotel lobby, the two met, as fate would have it. Soon, an intimate relationship developed between them and their secret love blossomed and flourished.

In this riveting unique memoir, de Toledo reveals the powerful love affair she had with Lansky, the hundreds of letters he wrote to her over the years, the other personality and sensitivity of the man who was, in the eyes of many, a criminal, the little things between him and her, and the tough decisions they had to make.


 

My thoughts:  This isn’t your typical gangster memoir, I found. It has a whole different angle and flavor to it. Be prepared for something different from your usual mob book. This is more intellectual and political, dealing with current affairs of the time, and affairs of the heart too, you could say. I enjoyed reading this book because it was different from your usual shoot-em-up gangster title, and more of a love story, with the very-married Lansky trying to return to Jerusalem to spend some time with his mistress. His detractors have been keeping him away based on his former bootlegging reputation, while his health declines. Advanced electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, the author Zali de Toledo, and publisher BooksGoSocial, for my unbiased review.


 

GangsterMeyer


 

Publisher: BooksGoSocial – 250 pages
Publication: Aug 2nd, 2020
My rating: 3/5 Stars


 

From the author– Meyer Lansky always said that the truth has three realities: mine, yours and the truth’s own. So many books and articles have been written and movies have been made about him, mostly based on the FBI files or hearsay. In the 70’s, Gabriel Bach, former State Attorney and then Judge of the Supreme Court of Israel, brought these files over, and they found their way to Prof. Walkaway, a historian at the Tel Aviv University, who told me there was nothing for which Meyer could be put on trial.

I have written here my side of the story, the other truth, from Meyer’s point of view, as per his own words in the many letters he wrote to me.


 

BOOK REVIEW ~ The Accidental Gangster

The Accidental Gangster: From Insurance Salesman to Mob Boss of Hollywood

by  Ori Spado & Dennis Griffin

I just finished this true crime book by Orlando (Ori) Spado better known as the Mob Boss of Hollywood, according to him and his cronies. He had a decades long friendship with mobster Sonny Franzese who kept him protected, on the street and in the joint. It was a good read, no dragging places, moved along well. I’ve been very blessed with the last several books, I’m on a streak. I love when that happens. Spado has his own things he does in Hollywood to make money, but he’s also know as a ’fixer’ for people who are having a problem they need handled, like a debt they are having trouble collecting, or people they are having problems with, things like that. With his connections, and all of the people he knows, he had no problem taking care of most anything for anyone and was quite successful at it.

There are photos in the book and a link where you can see them online too, along with some others, which I always enjoy checking out. The book is co-written with Dennis Griffin who is becoming one of my favorite true crime writers as I have read quite a lot of his work lately and enjoyed it.


 

Gangster


Publisher: WildBlue Press – 344 pages
Published: Nov 12th, 2019
MY RATING: 4/5 Stars


The Co-Author- Dennis N. Griffin was born in Rome, New York in 1945. He joined the U. S. Navy in 1962. After being honorably discharged in 1966, he returned to central New York. He is married and has four adult children. Mr. Griffin began his career in investigations and law enforcement in 1975, when Pinkerton, Inc. hired …him as a private investigator. His duties included insurance fraud, missing persons, financial and background investigations, as well as undercover operations. In 1979 the Madison County, New York Department of Social Services hired him as a Senior Child Support Investigator. He was responsible for locating and conducting financial investigations of persons failing to provide legally mandated child support. In 1981 he joined the Madison County Sheriff’s Department, and attained the rank of sergeant. He was a shift supervisor and public information officer. During the same time-period, he moonlighted as a part time patrolman for the Village of Chittenango Police Department. In 1987 Mr. Griffin was hired by the New York State Department of Health as Director of Investigations, Wadsworth Center. The primary mission of his unit was to investigate violations of the Public Health Law relating to clinical and environmental laboratories, and health care fraud. He was responsible for hiring and training investigators, case assignments and general supervision. In addition, he personally handled the more difficult and complex investigations. Many of these cases received both local and national media attention. He retired in 1995. In 1996, Dennis was supposed to be retired, but decided to tell the story of what he learned while investigating the operation of a medical examiner’s office. It was an eye-opening experience and he felt compelled to share it with others. Dennis eventually authored a fictionalized account called, The Morgue. However, readers didn’t believe anything in the book could actually happen, but they liked the story and his style; rough edges and all. Six more mystery/thriller fictions followed. The author is an active member of the Police Writers Association. He attended Onondaga County Community College, Mohawk Valley Community College and the Central New York Regional Academy for Police Training. He has three other novels published through 1stBooks. The first, The Morgue, was published 1999. Red Gold, followed in 2000. In January 2002, his writing career was at a crossroads. Would he continue the uphill struggle for recognition in a genre with a number of well-established authors? Or was it time to find another hobby? The question was answered at a writers’ conference when a lady suggested Dennis try his hand at police-related non-fiction. That was the turning point. He began writing Policing Las Vegas, the history of law enforcement in Las Vegas and Clark County from 1905 thru 2004. Policing was released in April 2005. Writing that book opened his eyes to some interesting things about Las Vegas and the mob that he wanted to explore; leading to his second non-fiction book, The Battle for Las Vegas, the story of the Vegas reign of Chicago mob enforcer Tony Spilotro. In the movie Casino, actor Joe Pesci played a character based on Spilotro. The Battle for Las Vegas was released on July 1, 2006. In writing that book, Dennis relied heavily on resources such as retired FBI agents and police detectives from that era, and through his conversations with career criminal and former Spilotro lieutenant Frank Cullotta. Those conversations led to a third Vegas-based non-fiction, CULLOTTA – The Life of a Chicago Criminal, Las Vegas Mobster, and Government Witness, released nationally in July 2007. Since that time, Dennis has written several books on the true stories of the Las Vegas mob and the era in which they reigned. In 2007 Denny began hosting his own Internet radio show on Blog Talk Radio.