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LITTLE MAN: MEYER LANSKY AND THE GANGSTER LIFE

by Robert Lacey

Little, Brown; 547 pages; $24.95

The late criminal Meyer Lansky was an immigrant math whiz with a hunger for self-improvement. As a poor, dishonest kid on the streets of New York City, he quickly learned that if you can't beat the odds, change them. Using sound business principles, he laid the foundations of modern resort gambling. In his later years he hired tutors, was a regular at the Miami Beach Public Library and a member of the Book-of-the-Month Club. To his retired cronies he was an engaging cafeteria philosopher. His...

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