Well well well, I’ve finally read a current book, courtesy of my new library card. I’ve been liking biographies and memoirs lately so I thought the story of an American Princess, raised in secluded luxury oblivious to the dangerous world her gangster father kept from her would be an amazing tale.
Sandra Lansky is the only daughter of Mob king Meyer Lansky, a man on hugging terms with dangerous men like Charles ‘Lucky’ Luciano and movie stars like Frank Sinatra trembled before him, literally. I’d never heard of Lansky, despite doing a report on American gangsters in 12th grade. The reason for that I think is the man himself. Meyer Lansky was fiercely private, and not given to publicity or show. That, and no one ever caught him at any actual crime despite the entire Kennedy administration and the Nixon one after it wholeheartedly gunning for him. He built a gambling empire, as far as I can tell practically founded Los Vegas, and lost nearly 300 million in Cuba when Castro took over.
Sandra refused to talk to anyone about her father for most of her life, understandably, but finally set down the story from the first thing she can remember, until the moment her father passed away. She was a daddy’s girl in every nuance of the word, wildly spoiled, used to walking around with thousands of dollars in bills randomly stuffed into her purse. She was the darling of her ‘Uncles’, all extremely ‘notorious’ men who tended to end up in prison or murdered. Sandi, as she was called, was incredibly sheltered and unaware of the world around her, even unaware to a large extent of the kind of person her father was at heart. A Russian-born Jew who did not practice any kind of religion and kept his cards so close to his heart, that after his death she still was in the dark about answers to many of her own questions about the truth of his dealings, or where his money mysteriously went when he died.
Some people are not meant to be story-tellers and Sandra Lansky is one of them. It is clear and lucid writing, from her point of view but clearly through the ghost-writer William Stadiem; but utterly devoid of feeling (though feelings are described) or sadness (though there is plenty of that too). Sandra truly was dealt a few rough cards along the way, although a lot of it was through her own self-admitted headstrong, naive, spoiled and wild behavior. I never understand people who have lived a debauched life for any point of time, and wonder why they are unhappy. She flung herself into many affairs with married Hollywood men including Dean Martin, but that too is devoid of interest. Worst of all, the moment her father passes away, the story abruptly ends. She said she was happy. But what happened to her, her husband, her kids?? Described as the Paris Hilton of her day by the publisher of the book; Sandi as a person is either completely unable to convey who she is as a person on paper, or she is just a very uninteresting person who had a fantastically interesting life.
Bottom line is, this should have been Boardwalk Empire come to life but the most exciting part is the dust jacket description. Read that and walk away satisfied.