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Tommy Gun Winter
Jewish Gangsters, a Preacher's Daughter, and the Trial That Shocked 1930s Boston
Nathan Gorenstein

2015 • 358 pp. 25 illus. 6 1/8 x 9 1/4"
True Crime - Murder / 20th Century U.S. History / New England History

$27.95 Hardcover, 978-1-61168-426-1

$16.99 Ebook, 978-1-61168-734-7

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

“Nathan Gorenstein’s Tommy Gun Winter is brilliantly written, superbly paced, staggeringly exciting and—above all that—it's true.”—Mark Edmundson, author of Why Read? and Why Football Matters

A veteran journalist tracks down a family secret and rediscovers the story of Jewish gangsters run amok in 1930s Boston

This is the true tale of two brothers, sons of a successful Jewish contractor, who along with an MIT graduate and a minister’s daughter once competed for headlines with John Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd and Bonnie and Clyde.

The gang was led by the angry, violent, yet often charismatic Murton Millen, a small-time hoodlum and aspiring race-car driver. With his younger brother, Irv, and later joined by neighborhood buddy and MIT graduate Abe Faber, Murt launched a career of increasingly ambitious robberies. But it was only after his sudden marriage to the beautiful eighteen-year-old Norma Brighton that the gang escalated to murder. Their crime wave climaxed at a Needham, Massachusetts, bank on February 2, 1934, when Murt cut down two local police officers—Francis Haddock and Forbes McLeod—with a Thompson submachine gun stolen from state police.

The killings, the dogged investigation by two clever detectives, and the record-setting trial with seventeen psychiatrists were national news. In Depression-era America this Boston saga of sex, ethnicity, and bloodshed made the trio and their “red-headed gun moll” infamous. Gorenstein’s account explores the Millen, Faber, and Brighton families and introduces us to cops, psychiatrists, newspaper men and women, and ordinary citizens caught up in the extraordinary Tommy Gun Winter of 1934.

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Reviews / Endorsements

“Readers of Tommy Gun Winter no doubt will have to remind themselves, repeatedly, that this is not a work of fiction. With its calculating killers, sweet-faced moll, brazen reporters, and bumbling cops, it unfolds with cinematic scope, culminating in the longest murder trial in Massachusetts history. Fans of Laura Hillenbrand will appreciate Gorenstein’s sure-footed depiction of an era; those of Erik Larson will shiver at the killers’ chilling amorality.”—Gwen Florio, author of the Lola Wicks mystery novels

“Gorenstein’s story has all the elements, from Jewish gangsters in an era of anti-Semitism to a partner with an unlikely background as an aeronautical engineering graduate of MIT. . . . It's a can't-miss story Gorenstein found hidden in his family's attic. And he pulls it off. The research is meticulous, and the book puts you smack in Depression-Era New England.” —Philadelphia Inquirer

“Shines a light on a sensational murder case that has faded from public memory.”—Boston Globe

Tommy Gun Winter is truly a triumph. The narrative crackles with indelible, three-dimensional characters who draw readers into a web of love, jealousy, loyalty, and ultimately murder. Gorenstein writes so vividly that it’s easy to imagine a movie adaptation.”—Wendy Ruderman, Pulitzer Prize winner and coauthor of Busted: A Tale of Corruption and Betrayal in the City of Brotherly Love

“Nathan Gorenstein has always been a superb reporter, but he has outdone himself. . . . The story is richly detailed, and the narrative races along like the black Packard getaway car, careening through city streets, hostage on the running board, Thompson machine gun blasting away.”—Michael Vitez, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of The Road Back

NATHAN GORENSTEIN is a former investigative reporter with the Philadelphia Inquirer and a two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee. His very wonderful grandmother was a Millen. He lives in Delaware.

Mon, 4 Feb 2019 13:46:23 -0500