Neal Karlen—Augie's Secrets & Slouching Toward Fargo

Neal Karlan has written for the New York Times, Newsweek, and Rolling Stone. He is a member of the adjunct faculty of the University of Minnesota journalism school and author or coauthor of six books. Join us for a reading and signing of "Augie's Secrets" and "Slouching Toward Fargo," both of which were recently released in paperback from Minnesota Historical Society Press.

About Augie's Secrets:

There’s an old Yiddish saying: two people can keep a secret if one of them is dead. But two living people could keep a secret—as long as one of them was Augie.

Augie Ratner, the proprietor of Augie’s Theater Lounge & Bar on Hennepin Avenue, was the unofficial mayor of Minneapolis’s downtown strip in the 1940s and ’50s. In a few blocks between the swanky clubs and restaurants on Eighth Street and the sleazy flophouses and bars of the Gateway District, the city’s shakers-and-movers and shake-down artists mingled. Gangsters and celebrities, comedians and politicians, the rich and the famous and the infamous—all of them met at Augie’s.

Mixing careful research with long suppressed family and community stories, Neal Karlen, Augie’s great-nephew, tells the real story of the seamy underside of Minneapolis, where Jewish mobsters controlled the liquor trade, invented the point spread in sports betting, and ran national sports gambling operations. Even after Mayor Hubert H. Humphrey supposedly cleaned up the town, organized crime quietly flourished. And Augie was at the center, observing it all.

About Slouching Toward Fargo:

In his classic account of two years with the most audacious bush league ballclub ever to plumb the bottom of the pro sports barrel, Neal Karlen presents a dizzying collection of characters: co-owners comedian Bill Murray and sports impresario Mike Veeck; baseball’s formerly winningest pitcher Jack Morris; outfielder Darryl Strawberry, on his way back to the majors; the back-rubbing Sister Rosalind; baseball’s first woman player Ila Borders; frantic fans, a ball-carrying pig, a blind sportscaster, and a host of others. They all prove the credo of the Saints: Fun is Good.