Alex Shondor Birns—Public Enemy Number One, friend of powerful Jewish and Italian mobsters, and trusted partner of black gambling racketeers. He went toe-to-toe against relentless challenges —the cops wanted him in prison, immigration officials wanted him deported, and the IRS wanted his nightclub, car, and cash. Black gangsters wanted the old white man out of the numbers racket, and rogue underlings wanted to kill the king.
One protégé in particular had Birns on the ropes in a high-finance mystery stretching from the US to Israel, and Canada to Cuba. Then along came Ellie, a second grade schoolteacher thirty-three years his junior. She was an unlikely paramour and ally, but clearly smitten with Shon.
For half a century, the charismatic hood beat the odds, cultivating allies high and low, including ambitious reporters whose careers he helped build via blazing front-page coverage. Combine the name Shondor Birns with stories of bribes, bullets, and bombs, and it sold newspapers. It was this notoriety that Shondor embraced through the decades as his turbulent story was memorialized. Until, that is, it reached a shocking crescendo.