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Best Novel About Detroit to Make Into a Film
The Purple Gang: A History of the Detroit Underworld, 1910-1945

What is it with Americans and our fascination with outlaws? From the mythologizing of Billy the Kid to the wildly successful Godfather trilogy, we seem to be simultaneously repelled by and attracted to bad guys. Maybe the fact that our country was founded by lawbreakers has left an indelible imprint on our national psyche. Whatever the reason, the phenomenon is undeniable. Which might explain why MT readers voted Paul R. Kavieff’s book about the notorious Purple Gang as the novel about Detroit filmmakers should consider for the big screen. (We’ll even overlook the fact that Kavieff’s work is actually a true historical account of these Jewish mobsters and not a piece of fiction.) An operating engineer at Wayne State University’s School of Medicine who’s pursuing a master’s degree in history, Kavieff provides a detailed account of the gang that ruled Detroit’s underworld during the late 1920s and early ’30s. With only the Detroit River between them and all the booze money could buy in Windsor, they were able to control much of the flow of illegal hooch into this country during Prohibition.

So what are the chances producers will take our readers’ suggestion and put this story on the silver screen? That’s tough to say, but the first step has already been taken. According to Kavieff, he worked closely with Grosse Pointe resident Harry George Manos, who used the Purple Gang manuscript to create a screenplay that he’s currently trying to peddle.

More by Curt Guyette

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