An aspiring tycoon partners with a racketeer to build a jukebox that makes millions, then takes the fall for the largest money laundering scheme in history.
Caught between the Mob and the feds in a plot to save the casinos in Havana from Castro’s revolution, Wolfe Rabin pulls the biggest money-laundering scheme in history, but his hubris leads to the conspiracy unraveling in a sensational trial. At a time when there was a jukebox in every restaurant, diner, bar, barracks, arcade, and canteen, Rabin’s trajectory from inventor to promoter to outlaw is set against the Mob’s growing infiltration of the jukebox industry. In a world of music, machines, and money, popular culture and organized crime collide in an epic drama of invention and greed. David Rabinovitch’s investigation into his own family history pieces together an epic puzzle that begins in Chicago with the invention of a jukebox and spans the casinos of Havana and the financial giants of Europe, leading to what the FBI called “the biggest bank robbery in the world.”
David Rabinovitch is an EMMY, Peabody, and Gemini Award-winning film maker. With a background in investigative journalism, he has written for the Toronto Globe & Mail, San Francisco Chronicle, TIME Magazine, and U.S. News & World Report. He was raised in the prairie town of Morden, Manitoba, where his uncle Wolfe Rabin’s exploits remain a subject of myth and lore. He divides his time between the Pacific Northwest and Baja California.
Cast of Characters
Chapter One – Origins
Chapter Two – Pay to Play
Chapter Three – Coin Men
Chapter Four – Crimebusters
Chapter Five – Biggest Bank Robbery in the World
Chapter Six – Dollye
Chapter Seven – Air Chase
Chapter Eight – Front Page
Chapter Nine – Biggest Burglary Solved
Chapter Ten – Wheels of Justice
Chapter Eleven – Scheme and Artifice
Chapter Twelve – Shoot the Moon
About the Author
Award-winning filmmaker Rabinovitch, who has an investigative-journalism background, looked into his own family’s history and learned that his uncle Wolfe Rabin was involved in the jukebox empire, in which it was easy to falsify how many songs were actually sold. This book, full of research, shows that the Mafia understood that and tapped into it as a way to evade taxes as well, and Rabin worked with them in this money-laundering business….He describes how the jukebox was invented and how it became a staple throughout the United States but devotes most of the book’s pages to the story of the famous robbery—the FBI called it the biggest of its kind at the time—in which millions of dollars in bonds were stolen….A well-researched book[.] and Rabin worked with them in this money-laundering business….He describes how the jukebox was invented and how it became a staple throughout the United States but devotes most of the book’s pages to the story of the famous robbery—the FBI called it the biggest of its kind at the time—in which millions of dollars in bonds were stolen….A well-researched book[.]
This is a brilliant depiction, in evocative prose, of the corrupt juke box industry as controlled by the mob. Anyone interested in how the mob can launder money through a seemingly innocent American past time should read Jukebox Empire.
It reads like a novel but the characters and events described by David Rabinovitch are real and chilling. Fans of The Untouchables and Godfather II will thank me for recommending Jukebox Empire.
Jukebox Empire is the engrossing story of William Rabin, a key figure in the development of the jukebox industry in America who rubbed shoulders with major Mafioso from the US and Canada. Author David Rabinovitch, the nephew of William Rabin, weaves together a compelling story of family and crime that even touches on key events of US history in the 1950s and 60s. Rabin was a character who, before this book, was missing from the US Mafia historical timeline, but is here rightfully placed in the canon as one of the many key figures in the story of organized crime in the 20th century.
It is a compelling book from beginning to end. David Rabinovitch takes us into the dark meanders of the American underworld and tells the story of a man who, thanks to jukeboxes, managed to create an empire. It is an eye-opening, informative, and fascinating book. Jukebox Empire is must-read.
Jukebox Empire is part family journey, part mob story, as Rabinovitch vividly retraces his uncle’s life of crime from Canada to Chicago to Cuba. The personal story of Wolfe Rabin helps illuminate misunderstood aspects of organized crime in the twentieth century. A delightfully entertaining story of jukeboxes, money laundering, and stolen bonds.
What a fantastic story. It has everything: action, incredible characters, suspense, humor. Can't wait to see the movie.
When David investigated his uncle’s exploits, the result filled gaps in our knowledge of the history of organized crime, popular culture, the music industry, 20th century history and politics, and the Cuban Revolution. A unique combination of family memoir and investigative journalism.
A fast-paced, colorful romp through a slice of the twentieth century American underworld, Jukebox Empire has a cinematic quality, not surprising given its filmmaker author. A chilling tale of the path leading a talented son of Jewish immigrant parents in a remote town in Manitoba to the heights and depths of the American mob.
David Rabinovitch has taken a family secret and turned it into an exciting, fast-moving story about his father’s brother, William “Wolfe” Rabin, who was “raised in an immigrant Jewish family in a remote Canadian prairie town and who became a jukebox tycoon, a crony of gangsters, and the mastermind behind an audacious and complex international money-laundering scheme.” Rabinovitch has molded this personal family history into a riveting chronicle that is part organized crime, part money laundering, and part jukebox history. Jukebox Empire is a tour-de-force account of the Mob’s growing infiltration into legitimate American industry and how it affected one man who was obsessed with power and money at all costs.
Author has a website.
8/16/23, The Jewish Post and News: A feature article takes an early look at the book.
10/23/23, Gangland Wire podcast, Gary Jenkins interviews David Rabinovitch about the book.
10/27/23, University of Manitoba Radio: David Rabinovitch is interviewed about the book’s Manitoba connection.
11/2/23, The Winkler Morden Voice: David Rabinovitch details his family’s remarkable story in this feature article about the book.
11/2/23, Winnipeg Free Press: David Rabinovitch’s book launches are featured in the What’s Up feature for this weekend.Link: https://www.winnipegfreepress.com/arts-and-life/2023/11/02/whats-up-232
11/2/23, CBC Radio: David Rabinovitch discusses the story of William “Wolfe” Rabin on the show Up To Speed.
11/8/23, Discover Westman: David Rabinovitch is interviewed for this feature article about the book.
11/7/23, Pembina Valley podcast: Morning Show co-host Chris Sumner speaks with David Rabinovitch.Link: https://podcastville.ca/shows/33/episodes/18881
11/19/23, The Weekend with Ed Kalegi: Ed Kalegi talks with David Rabinovitch about the book.
11/26/23, CBC News: Brittany Greenslade interviews David Rabinovitch about the Manitoba connections to the book.
11/3/24, CTV News: David Rabinovitch is interviewed about the book.