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The Brownsville Boys: The Jewish Gangsters of Murder, Inc.

Publication type

Fine Press



Book Size

46 x 33 cm, 22 unbound and unnumbered leaves

Edition Size

50 copies


$4200 Few copies left.

In this portfolio, John Jay College of Criminal Justice Dean and Librarian Larry E. Sullivan, presents twenty noir-style biographies of criminals. Introduced by a personae dramatis at the front of the book, each narrative unfolds on the page the text contoured to amplify the ominously rendered headshot impressed upon each page by etcher, painter, sculptor, and Leonard Baskin protégé D.R. (Bob) Wakefield. The Brownsville Boys: Jewish Gangsters of Murder, Inc. offers its readers chilling documentation of the diversification of organized crime in 1930s New York through this close look at an immigrant group who committed murder.

Russell Maret’s design further animates The Brownsville Boys, as the shaped text engages with Wakefield’s etchings and creates a dynamic dialogue between text and image on the crisp white paper. The type used, William A. Dwiggin’s 1935 Electra, further amplifies the tension of the early mid-twentieth century in its crisp modernity and desire to shirk any historical references.

The portfolio chemise and its enclosure box were designed and executed by Claudia Cohen. Cohen first engaged in book arts at Gehenna Press, later apprenticed with Gray Parrot, and has run her own bindery since 1983.

In 1993, Sullivan, a collector of American convict literature and former librarian at the Maryland State Penitentiary, and Baskin conceived of The Brownsville Boys as a project for the Gehenna Press. Twenty years later, with Wakefield and the thoughtful guidance of Two Ponds Press, this remarkable project came to fruition as the sophomore achievement of the Press.

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