book review: jew gangster

Jew Gangster is about a kid in depression-era New York who becomes a gangster as a way of climbing out of poverty. It’s a pretty classic story with all the proud disapproving father, friends who hang on for a taste of money, and moving away from the family the gangster was trying to help elements that feel like they’re in every gangster story.

It does all the elements well, but there isn’t anything groundbreaking in here. Religion only really came into play when the protagonist couldn’t sit shiva for his father, which seemed like a missed opportunity, given the title. The black and white art is good and it feels more of its time than something like Sandman Mystery Theatre. But if you like gangster fiction there’s not much here you haven’t seen before.

One thought on “book review: jew gangster

  1. SPOILER ALERT

    I had a problem with the reveal at the end with Mr. Big.

    SPOILER

    Drawing the “End Boss” as orthodox-to-hassidic made him look too much like a rabbi. Trying to tie in Jewish Gangsters in NYC 1930s (there WERE plenty: Lewis Lepke, Dutch Schultz, Meyer Lansky) to clergy or to an orthodox mob boss (who cryptically decries the Holocaust as it’s happening in Europe, and foreshadows the state of Israel) makes the ending seem like an indictment of Jewry in total for the gangster element present in the postwar return to Palestine. It has a whiff of blood libel to it, which seemed odd coming from Kubert, a jew himself.
    Not that the Stern Gang had its hands clean in 1940s Palestine or anything. It just left an odd, unsettled taste in my mouth. I cannot picture Lepke or Lansky or Schultz reporting to Kubert’s Mr. Big.

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