Gangsters vs. Nazis: How Jewish Mobsters Battled Nazis in WW2 Era America (Hardcover)
Goodreads Top Nonfiction of 2022
“[A] masterpiece. One of the most rivetingly relevant reads I’ve ever encountered.” —Jon Land, Providence Journal
As Adolph Hitler rose to power in 1930s Germany, a growing wave of fascism began to take root on American soil. Nazi activists started to gather in major American cities, and by 1933, there were more than one-hundred anti-Semitic groups operating openly in the United States. Few Americans dared to speak out or fight back—until an organized resistance of notorious mobsters waged their own personal war against the Nazis in their midst. Gangland-style. . . .
In this thrilling blow-by-blow account, acclaimed crime writer Michael Benson uncovers the shocking truth about the insidious rise of Nazism in America—and the Jewish mobsters who stomped it out. Learn about:
* Nazi Town, USA: How one Long Island community named a street after Hitler, decorated buildings with swastikas, and set up a camp to teach US citizens how to goosestep.
* Meyer Lansky and Murder Inc.: How a Jewish mob accountant led fifteen goons on a joint family mission to bust heads at a Brown Shirt rally in Manhattan.
* Fritz Kuhn, “The Vest-Pocket Hitler”: How a German immigrant spread Nazi propaganda through the American Bund in New York City—with 70 branches across the US.
* Newark Nazis vs The Minutemen: How a Jewish resistance group, led by a prize fighter and bootlegger for the mob, waged war on the Bund in the streets of Newark.
* Hitler in Hollywoodland: How Sunset Strip kingpin Mickey Cohen knocked two Brown Shirters’ heads together—and became the West Coast champion in the mob’s war on Nazis.
Packed with surprising, little-known facts, graphic details, and unforgettable personalities, Gangsters vs. Nazis chronicles the mob’s most ruthless tactics in taking down fascism—inspiring ordinary Americans to join them in their fight. The book culminates in one of the most infamous events of the pre-war era—the 1939 Nazi rally in Madison Square Garden—in which law-abiding citizens stood alongside hardened criminals to fight for the soul of a nation. This is the story of the mob that’s rarely told—one of the most fascinating chapters in American history and American organized crime.
“A must-read.” —Larry Alexander, New York Times bestselling author of Biggest Brother: The Life of Major Dick Winters, the Man Who Led the Band of Brothers
“A fascinating and entertaining read.” —The Epoch Times
“As criminologists the world over have shown, when government institutions fail to provide the people, or a sizable segment thereof, with the goods and services they desire, collateral institutions, some illegal, will. Michael Benson, a renowned organized crime writer in his own right, suggests this constant was alive and well in the 1930s. …Gangsters vs. Nazis is quite worthy of exploration and attribution.” —Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Books, Rutgers University Law School
“Enlightening and colorful…Jewish boxing fans will find a lot of riveting stories in Gangsters vs Nazis told in an extremely entertaining manner. Those who enjoy reading about the mob or find catharsis in the bloodying of Nazis will thoroughly enjoy Michael Benson's work. This is highly recommended reading.” —Jewish Boxing
“Michael Benson’s nonfiction masterpiece Gangsters vs. Nazis reads like speculative fiction at its very best, even though the incidents the book portrays are very much real…One of the most rivetingly relevant reads I’ve ever encountered, chock-full of real-life heroes and villains who are every bit the match for the best that thriller fiction has to offer.” —Jon Land, The Providence Journal
“It is a colorful tale. It reads in many places like a mid-20th century Jimmy Cagney movie or Mickey Spillane novel come to life. It occurs in the same settings and the author uses the Runyonesque language of the genre. The mobsters deal out knuckle sandwiches and whack foes on the noggin. At one point Benson urges readers to think of one team as “The Dirty Dozen with some Yiddish thrown in.” —Ricochet
“Benson tells this little-known chapter of American Jewish history well and with passion. The prose is colorful and direct.” —New York Journal of Books
“Told in a colorful, Runyonesque style, the tale is about one of the strangest campaigns of the late 1930s. It shows how the Jewish American community organized to fight the German American Bund and other fascist groups in the United States in the years prior to America’s entry into World War II. To break up Nazi rallies and bust heads, the community enlisted Jewish gangsters, the author claims—not “good guys” protecting the American way. This is a fascinating and entertaining read.” —The Epoch Times
“From indoctrinating youth camps to jack-booted rallies promoting Adolf Hitler, pre-World War II America was threatened by the rise of Nazism. Gangsters vs. Nazis is a must-read, eye-opening account that brings to life the violent struggle between these home-brewed storm troopers and an army of unlikely patriots; gangs of fist-swinging Jewish mobsters willing to break bones and crack heads in order to turn back the Nazi menace.” —Larry Alexander, New York Times bestselling author of Biggest Brother: The Life of Major Dick Winters, the Man Who Led the Band of Brothers
“Benson is a master of true crime.” —Robert Scott