The Violent Years: Prohibition and The Detroit Mobs

The Violent Years, a companion volume to author Paul Kavieff’s best-selling book, The Purple Gang, is the story of Prohibition-era Detroit, a place of tremendous wealth and brutal violence. For those found with new prosperity after World War I ended, it became a status symbol to have one’s own personal bootlegger and to hobnob with known gangsters. Not only did they supply the booze, they carried with them an aura of excitement and danger. Numerous gangs scrambled to grab a piece of the profit to be made selling illegal liquor which resulted in gruesome gang warfare among the many European ethnic groups that were involved. Among these were the Italian Giannola and Vitale gangs, the Irish “Legs” Laman Gang and the Polish Jaworski gang. All the while, author Paul Kavieff manages to provide insight into how so many immigrants gravitated to crime and why the public tolerated it for as long as they did.

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