Michigan Transportation History

Purple Gang Bibliography

Public Detroit Crime Bibliography A predominantly Jewish gang in Detroit during prohibition that controlled the riverfront and the flow of alcohol from Canada. I compiled this bibliography when I was teaching. This topic holds a lot of fascination for students and I wanted to provide good sources.


Primary Sources

Federal Bureau of Investigation. "Purple Gang (aka Sugar House Gang)." four pdf files.

The FBI has many documents on the Purple Gang and many pages in its website discuss the gang.

Secondary Sources

About the Purple Gang or Detroit Gangs

Buccellato, James A. Early Organized Crime in Detroit: Vice, Corruption and the Rise of the Mafia. History Press, 2015.

Kavieff, Paul R. The Purple Gang: Organized Crime in Detroit 1910-1945. Barricade Books, 2005.

Kavieff was a reporter for the Detroit News.

Kavieff, Paul R. The Violent Years: Prohibition and the Detroit Mobs. Barricade Books, 2001.

Kavieff, Paul R. "Detroit's Infamous Purple Gang." Detroit News, July 16, 1999. Archived at WebCite®.

Additional photos here.

Kavieff, Paul R. "The Crosstown Mob Wars of 1930-31, The Detroit News, June 10, 1999.

Kavieff, Paul R., with Scott M. Burnstein. "The Last Purple: Harry Millman." The Gangster Report, July 2014 (updated 11/9/15).

"Mobsters, Mayhem & Murder." The Times Magazine, originally The Walkerville Times. Walkerville Publishing, 2006.

The Walkerville Times focused on news in and around Windsor, Ontario. It is now defunct.

Rockaway, Robert A. "The Notorious Purple Gang: Detroit's All-Jewish Prohibition Era Mob." Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies 20, no. 1 (Fall 2001): 113-130.

Department of History at Tel-Aviv University

Waugh, Daniel. Off Color: The Violent History of Detroit's Notorius Purple Gang. Holland, MI: In-Depth Editions, 2014.

Whitall, Susan. "The Purple Gang's Bloody Legacy." The Detroit News, June 9, 2001. (Archived at WebCite®.)

Generally about Organized Crime, but with Purple Gang articles

Morton, James. Gangland International: The Mafia and Other Mobs. Boston: Little, Brown & Company, 1998.

Nash, Jay Robert. Bloodletters & Badmen: A Narrative Encyclopedia of American Criminals from the Pilgrims to the Present. rev. and updated ed. M. Evans & Company, 1995.

Engelmann, Larry. Intemperance: The Lost War Against Liquor. New York: Macmillan, 1979.

A state history of the prohibition era in Michigan.

Rockaway, Robert A. But He Was Good to His Mother: The Lives and Crimes of Jewish Gangsters. Jerusalem & New York, 2000.

Detroit Gangs

Bynum, Timothy S., and Sean P. Varano. "The Anti-Gang Initiative in Detroit: An Aggressive Enforcement Approach to Gangs." Chapter 9 in Policing Gangs and Youth Violence, edited by Scott H. Decker. Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, 2003.

A very short history; text mostly focuses on the 1990s.

Tertiary Sources

Blogs, websites, etc.


Citizendium: excellent bibliography and links.
Wikipedia. Over the years, this article has improved a lot.

Dead Links

Citation: When referencing this page please use the following citation:

R. D. Jones, "Purple Gang Bibliography," Michigan Transportation History (Ypsilanti, MI: 2020), www.michtranshist.info/.

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Page last modified on April 23, 2020, at 07:28 AM EST

Page last modified on April 23, 2020, at 07:28 AM EST