December 27, 2016   Tuesday

A key figure in 30 Illegal Years To The Strip is Chicago and Miami illegal casino operator
Julian “Potatoes” Kaufman. In Miami, he brought in Meyer Lansky and Jimmy Blue Eyes as investors. Julian’s grandson Richard Kaufman, who has also researched his grandfather’s career, emailed me his review of my book today, and it follows.

Having read numerous books about the era described in “30 Illegal Years to the Strip”, I was impressed with the author’s insight into the characters that made that era. This book presents a unique perspective, due to the author’s voluminous research, about some previously well covered ground. The myth of Murder Inc was eye opening because all the previous books that I read made it some nefarious group but this was not accurate. My opinion about Thomas Dewey “The Great Crime Fighter” certainly was altered after this book. Having read a great deal about political corruption during this time period, I was still amazed at not only the depth of it, but how corrupt politicians utilized organized crime to line their pockets as well as pursue their political agenda. The author’s experience in the gambling industry helped make the operations of the illegal casinos easier to understand.

On a personal note, my grandfather was Julian “Potatoes” Kaufman, who is one of the key characters in this book. During Prohibition he ran upscale casinos in Bugs Moran’s territory on the North Side of Chicago and after the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in Al Capone’s territory south of Chicago. After Prohibition my grandfather made a deal with a sheriff to open illegal casino gambling near Miami and he later brought in Meyer Lansky as his partner. I thank the author for keeping Potatoes memory alive.

Since my grandfather passed before I was born, I was always intrigued by my father’s stories. I have researched Julian through the years and this book not only has the most factual  information ever written about him but has new material that was previously unknown to me. This book also debunks many myths.

Anyone who is interested in the origins of Las Vegas gambling or wants to learn about the growth of organized crime or political corruption during that era needs to get this book. I thought that I knew a lot after years of research but the knowledge in this book is indeed impressive. The author’s writing style puts you into the action not only as an observer but as a participant, since it reads like a novel.

Richard Kaufman