Jukebox Empire: The Mob and the Dark Side of the American Dream

Rowman & Littlefield. Oct. 2023. 248p. ISBN 9781538172599. $24.95. CRIME
Award-winning filmmaker Rabinovitch, who has an investigative-journalism background, looked into his own family’s history and learned that his uncle Wolfe Rabin was involved in the jukebox empire, in which it was easy to falsify how many songs were actually sold. This book, full of research, shows that the Mafia understood that and tapped into it as a way to evade taxes as well, and Rabin worked with them in this money-laundering business. The author writes the book in a diary format, which some readers may find, after numerous pages of this structure, unengaging. He describes how the jukebox was invented and how it became a staple throughout the United States but devotes most of the book’s pages to the story of the famous robbery—the FBI called it the biggest of its kind at the time—in which millions of dollars in bonds were stolen. There was a trial of all involved. All but Wolfe Rabin were acquitted, and the book shows what led to his taking the fall.
VERDICT A well-researched book whose structure might not hold some readers’ attention.
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