Welcome to my official website
Me with Antoinette Giancana, the "Mafia Princess"
My interest in the True Crime genre in general and vintage gangsters
in particular stems from one source: a simultaneous love of history
and mystery. That double-faceted fascination has resulted in three
books to date: Guns and Roses, the Untold Story of Dean O'Banion,
Chicago's Big Shot Before Al Capone; The Man Who
Got Away, the Bugs Moran Story and most recently
The Starker: Big Jack Zelig, the Becker-Rosenthal
Case, and the Advent of the Jewish Gangster, which is both
a biography of Manhattan crime lord Big Jack Zelig and an examination
of his mysterious role in the Becker-Rosenthal case of 1912.
My latest release:
Big Jack Zelig
The Starker introduces new evidence in the Becker-Rosenthal
affair of 1912, which author Henry Klein proclaimed to be a "gross
miscarriage of justice." The foremost scholars on the case-
Henry Klein (Sacrificed), Andy Logan (Against the Evidence)
and Mike Dash (Satan's Circus) all argue that Lieutenant
Charles Becker had nothing to do with the July 16, 1912 assassination
of gambler Herman Rosenthal. The Starker joins the
'Becker was framed' chorus, using Jack Zelig's posthumous testimony
as the main platform.
Up until now, there's only been speculation as to what Zelig would
have said in court had he not been killed two days before Becker's
trial was scheduled to commence. Now, ninety-five years after his
murder on a Second Avenue streetcar, thanks to interviews with his
relatives, Big Jack Zelig finally takes the stand. In the words
of author Rick Mattix: "He speaks from the grave, and his testimony
2010 has turned out to be a busy year for me. I'm collaborating
with actor and producer Seth F. Abrams on a soon to be released
about Monk Eastman. I'm also researching two additional projects:
the biographies of pioneer labor racketeer Dopey Benny Fein and
nativist gangster boss 'Butcher Bill' Poole. Follow me on Twitter
or read my Author
Blog for news and updates about these and any other projects
I take on.
"Keefe limns the New York gangster who represents a major
link between Monk Eastmans seminal Jewish gang and Arnold
Rothsteins criminal enterprise that would eventually spawn,
under Meyer Lansky, the Jewish contingent of Lucky Lucianos
crime cabal that dominated Americas underworld for decades.
As such, the book is a valuable resource. It is also excellent reading
that brings organized crime in the early twentieth century alive
in detail and with a bit of humor. Jack Zelig was a gang leader
only relatively briefly before he was assassinated to keep him from
testifying against bookmaker Herman Rosenthals killers. Oh,
really? Keefe argues that, rather than a straight gangland-witness
killing, the hit was political, motivated by adversaries displeased
by Zeligs clout. Reviewing the case, Keefe exposes the seeming
contradictions in the official version of Zeligs demise and,
for that matter, in Zeligs life, since the gang leader had
grown up in comfortable circumstances rather than grinding urban
poverty like his peers in the rackets. As true-crime tome and organized
crime history, this ones a keeper."
Mike Tribby, reviewing The Starker for Booklist
Online, October 2008
Me with Seth Abrams, producer of "Monk Eastman 1903"(left)
and Larry Fox, great-grandson of Eastman gangster Max 'Kid Twist'
Me with Chicago Outfit expert John Binder and Mario Gomes of
"Al Capone Museum" fame.
At the Tenement Museum at 'Jews Behving Badly' talk. L-R- 'Jews
of Sing Sing' author Ron Arons, me, 'Tough Jews' author Rich
Cohen, Seth F. Abrams
Me with author Rich Lindberg, whose books inspired me to write.
Advance praise for The Starker:
"Once King of the Lower East Side but long consigned
to supporting character status in the Becker-Rosenthal case,
Big Jack Zelig re-emerges from the shadows nearly a
century after his death. He speaks from the grave and his
testimony is damning. Rose Keefe's Sherlockian research and
unique biographer's skill have unearthed and fleshed out a
complex and fascinating individual who was the forerunner
of the modern American gangster. The Starker is both
a true-crime classic and a virtual time-trip to 1912 and the
mean streets of old New York to boot!"
-- Rick Mattix, coauthor of The Complete Public Enemy
Almanac and publisher of On the Spot Journal.