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Synopsis

30 Illegal Years To The Strip is the inside story of Prohibition’s most powerful leaders, who later ran elegant, illegal casinos across America, before moving on to build the glamorous Las Vegas Strip gambling resorts. The seven leaders of the three dominating Prohibition gangs imported the world’s finest liquors on a massive scale. Although in an illegal and dangerous business, these seven espoused traditional business values and rejected the key tools of organized crime - monopoly, violence, and vendetta. This made them the most unlikely gangsters to rise to underworld leadership. But they earned every criminal’s respect, and fate made them the most powerful gangland leaders in American history. In the mid 1900s, these seven leaders stood up to, and restrained, America’s worst villains. The seven prevented many gangland wars and killings. Unbelievably, the most murderous and most psychopathic gang leaders not only admired them but supported them in gangland conflicts. These were the first gangs to work closely together in mutual interest. Joining these three dominating liquor-importers was the violent Chicago Capone gang, as they partnered in both illegal and legal businesses during and after Prohibition. They were also close allies in the complexities, treachery, and violence of underworld politics. Exposed for the first time are the roles actually played by gang leaders Ben Siegel, Meyer Lansky, Charlie Luciano, Frank Costello, Joe Adonis, Al Capone, John Torrio, Frank Nitti, and Moe Dalitz. Some of these seven leaders became powerful overworld political kingmakers. Allied with them in New York City politics was Arnold Rothstein, the ultimate gambler. His murder is one of several major gangland killings finally solved here. The biggest-drawing entertainer in these gang leaders’ illegal-casino and Strip-resort showrooms was comedian Joe E. Lewis. He single-handedly saved the Copacabana from bankruptcy and turned it into America’s most famous and glamorous nightclub. The careers and relationships of the gang leaders, who together would go on to build the Las Vegas Strip, are presented for the first time in this thoroughly documented, in-depth, authentic history of how organized crime developed. It contains 546 source notes, and many addendums that expose the serious fallacies and outright fictions of previous books about early organized crime. This book is based on 48 years of research that began, when Friedman was drafted during the Vietnam War. A conscientious objector, he was ordered to spend his alternative service in Las Vegas hanging out with gangsters to study the history and operation of organized crime.

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