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08/05/2007 Archived Entry: "Four worthy books"

I'VE JUST ORDERED MY COPIES OF Joel Simon's Songs of Bad Men and Good and 101+ Things to Cook 'Til the Revolution (aka the TCF Cookbook), both from Lulu.com.

I've already read Joel's novel in manuscript form and hope to blog a review of it next week. In the meantime I'll just repeat (with a shout) what I said before: This story is even better, and better written than Walt's Gulch. You can order it on Lulu as either a trade paperback hardcopy or a download. But either way, get it!

The cookbook, I'm still dying to see. It was created by a group of dedicated TCFers, with contributions by dozens more (including yours truly). I'm not sure of all the people who ought to get credit for this work and I don't want to leave anybody out. But I know for sure that Pagan and Thunder had a lot to do with it. And don't let me forget Dare2BFree! Everybody, all of you -- much back-patting is in order. BTW, this one's also available in hardcopy or download. But you really need a hardcopy to keep on a kitchen shelf.

While on the subject of books, I've got two more I'd like to share. Read 'em both this week and got a lot out of 'em. Both are by the same author, Rich Cohen.

First is The Avengers: A Jewish War Story. I read this on the recommendation of TCFer The Cabinet Man and it's a good one. It tells the story of a very young man named Abba Kovner and his two teenage girlfriends who were instrumental in trying to foment a rebellion in the Vilna, Lithuania ghetto. Failing to arouse the passive, but ever-diminishing ghetto-dwellers into rising against the Nazis, they took to the woods and became instrumental in the partisan war that inflicted so much harm on their German tormentors. Later, they were among the founders of modern Israel.

The second book is Tough Jews: Fathers, Sons, and Gangster Dreams. This one tells the story of the Jewish gangsters of "Murder, Incorporated" (most of whom came from Cohen's father's old Brooklyn neighborhood; some of the stories are based on the childhood recollections of Herbie Cohen and his friends, who include Larry Zeigler, now nationally known as Larry King). They were hired killers for better-known mobsters, who were in turn often Jewish. Tough Jews was a guilty pleasure. It was fun to read a gangster tale that's also a story of a little-known part of American Jewish history. Cohen speculates a bit about how Jews like Abe "Kid Twist" Reles, Charlie "The Bug" Workman, Mendy Weiss, Louis "Lepke" Buckhalter, "Dutch" Schultz, and Meyer Lansky would have handled themselves had they been caught in the Holocaust. Suffice to say, they wouldn't have gone quietly.

Posted by Claire @ 02:36 PM CST

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