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Book Cover for: The Talented Mrs. Mandelbaum: The Rise and Fall of an American Organized-Crime Boss, Margalit Fox

The Talented Mrs. Mandelbaum: The Rise and Fall of an American Organized-Crime Boss

Margalit Fox

America's first great organized-crime lord was a lady--a nice Jewish mother named Mrs. Mandelbaum.

"A tour de force . . . With a pickpocket's finesse, Margalit Fox lures us into the criminal underworld of Gilded Age New York."--Liza Mundy, author of The Sisterhood

In 1850, an impoverished twenty-five-year-old named Fredericka Mandelbaum came to New York in steerage and worked as a peddler on the streets of Lower Manhattan. By the 1870s she was a fixture of high society and an admired philanthropist. How was she able to ascend from tenement poverty to vast wealth?

In the intervening years, "Marm" Mandelbaum had become the country's most notorious "fence"--a receiver of stolen goods--and a criminal mastermind. By the mid-1880s as much as $10 million worth of purloined luxury goods (nearly $300 million today) had passed through her Lower East Side shop. Called "the nucleus and center of the whole organization of crime," she planned robberies of cash, gold and diamonds throughout the country.

But Mrs. Mandelbaum wasn't just a successful crook: She was a business visionary--one of the first entrepreneurs in America to systemize the scattershot enterprise of property crime. Handpicking a cadre of the finest bank robbers, housebreakers and shoplifters, she handled logistics and organized supply chains--turning theft into a viable, scalable business.

The Talented Mrs. Mandelbaum paints a vivid portrait of Gilded Age New York--a city teeming with nefarious rogues, capitalist power brokers and Tammany Hall bigwigs, all straddling the line between underworld enterprise and "legitimate" commerce. Combining deep historical research with the narrative flair for which she is celebrated, Margalit Fox tells the unforgettable true story of a once-famous heroine whose life exemplifies America's cherished rags-to-riches narrative while simultaneously upending it entirely.

Book Details

  • Publisher: Random House
  • Publish Date: Jul 2nd, 2024
  • Pages: 336
  • Language: English
  • Dimensions: 9.51in - 6.24in - 1.14in - 1.34lb
  • EAN: 9780593243855
  • Categories: HistoricalOrganized CrimeUnited States - 19th Century

About the Author

Margalit Fox originally trained as a cellist and a linguist before pursuing journalism. As a senior writer in The New York Times's Obituary News Department, she wrote the front-page public sendoffs of some of the leading cultural figures of our age. Winner of the William Saroyan Prize for Literature and author of four previous nonfiction books, The Confidence Men, Conan Doyle for the Defense, The Riddle of the Labyrinth and Talking Hands, Fox lives in Manhattan with her husband.