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May 02 , 2008

Arkansas Godfather

The Story of Owney Madden and How He Hijacked Middle America


Owney Madden lived a seemingly quiet life for decades in the resort town of Hot Springs, Arkansas, while he was actually helping some of America's most notorious gangsters rule a vast criminal empire. In 1987, Graham Nown first told Madden's story in his book The English Godfather, in which he traced Madden's boyhood in England, his immigration to New York City, and his rise to mob boss. Nown also uncovered a love story involving Madden and the daughter of the Hot Springs postmaster. Before his arrival in Hot Springs, Madden was one of the most powerful gangsters in New York City and former owner of the famous Cotton Club in Harlem. The story of his life shows us a world where people can break the law without ever getting caught, and where criminality is so entwined in government and society that one might wonder what is legality and what isn't.

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