May 13, 2013
“Minneapolis is the capital of anti-Semitism in the United States,” Carey MacWilliams, editor of The Nation, wrote in 1946. Yet from the 1920s — 1960s, Minneapolis headquartered two of the country’s most powerful Jewish mobs. As described in Augie’s Secrets: The Minneapolis Mob and the King of the Hennepin Strip, they controlled large portions of the vice, gambling, illicit liquor and land rackets from the Midwest to Miami to Las Vegas, including the administration of the national “Minneapolis Line” point-spread for bookies. Their leaders included “Yiddy” Bloom, Meyer Lansky’s best friend, and Davie “the Jew” Berman. Minutes after Bugsy Siegel was assassinated, Berman famously walked with a few men into the Flamingo Casino, Bugsy’s Vegas Dream, and took over. With “boy mayor” Hubert Humphrey as overseer, the story is like Boardwalk Empire, HBO’s east coast Jewish mob epic; by way of Fargo, the blood-drenched crime classic set in Minneapolis. Also explained is how these shandas with shotguns have been transformed, via modern mobster chic, into the kind of Jewish gangster heroes of an Isaac Babel story.