Augie’s Secrets: The Minneapolis Mob and the King of the Hennepin Strip

“Karlen offers a loving, page turning…colorful and impressively researched account of the Midwest underworld and his fascinating great-augies secretuncle that feels right out of Damon Runyon. He serves up innumerable subplots about the Minneapolis Mob’s crucial role in the nation’s bootlegging, bookmaking and other illicit activities…. entertaining and nostalgic, it’s a lost world revived by Karlen in all is eccentric swagger and hard-boiled madcap edginess.” -The Minneapolis Star Tribune.


Kirkus Reviews

“New York Times contributor Karlen (Shanda: The Making and Breaking of a Self-Loathing Jew, 2004, etc.) proffers an idiosyncratic take on Yiddish, the heroic vernacular that gets no respect. This wide-ranging survey rejoices in Jewishness rather than Judaism. The author sporadically quotes Lenny Bruce, Isaac Bashevis Singer’s Nobel speech and Three Stooges movies to support his notions. He attempts, with easygoing chutzpah (you know, “nerve”) to draw apt lessons in linguistics and philology from history, philosophy, sports, literature and showbiz in the old countries as well as here in the goldene medina (“golden country).” –  [full text]

From Jewish Book World

“The Story of Yiddish is a book that you will pick up and browse for a while, and come back to later for some more histori-cal/hysterical stories of Jews as they wandered through the world, speaking the only language that tied them together.”

From The Jerusalem Post, May 4, 2008

“Karlen [was] born a skeptic and a rebel, a rabble-rouser and a maverick. Karlen’s Jewish soul is evident on every page of his new book, an interesting and quirky and sometimes irreverent look at how the Yiddish language has survived all over the world. He describes Yiddish as trying ‘to live life as a mentsh, a human being, not a vilde chaya, a wild beast.’ We readers are the lucky beneficiaries of his journey.”