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Rosenthal on NPR's Fresh Air

Rosenthal on WNYC's New York & Company

The Boston Globe Feature

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Rookie Cop

Deep Undercover in the
Jewish Defense League


by Richard Rosenthal

In the heady summer days of 1970, an untrained police recruit, recently returned to Brooklyn from a tour in the air force, was secretly assigned by the NYPD to infiltrate an up-and-coming urban terrorist organization described only as "a black cloud on the horizon." It was led by a charismatic rogue rabbi, whose impact would be felt around the world. Administered his oath of office in an empty building, stripped of his badge, forbidden to attend the police academy or mingle with other officers at any time, Richard Rosenthal advanced through the ranks of the Jewish Defense League from its early days of street intimidation through its production of incendiary weapons, its international airline hijacking attempt and ultimately its bombings, until he became a firearms instructor, oversaw their weapons arsenal, and acted as body guard to the notorious Rabbi Meir Kahane. With a cast of characters that includes Joe Colombo, the Brooklyn mob, the Ku Klux Klan, former French President Pompidou, the grave diggers’ union, and the Soviet Mission to the United States, Rookie Cop is not only the very human story of a young cop on an outrageously dangerous assignment but one of the wackiest true police stories ever told.

"A strange true tale of a Jewish NYPD cadet recruited into the department's elite intelligence unit to spy on the Jewish Defense League, offering vivid portraits of a politically incendiary era and revealing secrets of intrusive police tactics...This is a well-tuned portrait of the stress and acrimony that permeates such radical cliques, and of the lonely, paranoid personalities at their centers and it offers insights into the radically charged violence of the early 1970s...Rosenthal has a fine eye for human detail and a cop's mordant sensibility. Altogether an exciting tale of unusual police practices, and a solid portrait of a quintessential fringe radical group inhabiting insecure, volatile times.
Kirkus Reviews (June 15, 2000)

"Reads like outtakes from The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight!"
The Boston Globe (August 23, 2000)

"Quite compelling…leaving the reader wanting to know more about the crimes perpetrated by the JDL, the undercover operations against it, and its head, Rabbi Meir Kahane."
Library Journal (July, 2000)

"Rosenthal does a solid job of reconstructing his undercover stint."
Publishers Weekly (July 3, 2000)

"If this book were fiction I wouldn't believe it...Rookie Cop is a fabulous combination of true crime and backyard gossip. Reading Rosenthal's account of the events he was involved in is like running across a really interesting guy at a party who tells you the most unbelievable tale in the most believable way... This is a modern morality tale written in the most modern terms and should be assigned reading for anyone who thinks they would kill for a cause."
Carlye Archibeque, The Independent Review Site

"A remarkable look into a hidden world of Jewish militancy; Richard Rosenthal's story reads like a trip through the looking glass."
— Rich Cohen, Author of Tough Jews

"This book is more than a memoir, it is a blueprint for how not to conduct a criminal conspiracy.  Executed with admirable economy, written with the law-abiding fan in mind, it is must reading for all the bad guys."
— Robert Sabbag Author of Snowblind

"A compelling and clear-eyed portrait of a clannish, secret, and vengeful world. I read it with great interest and respect."
— Alec Wilkinson, Author of Midnights: A Year with the Wellfleet Police

Read an excerpt from Rookie Cop

ROOKIE AUTHOR website photo.GIF (15579 bytes)Before becoming Chief of Police in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, Richard Rosenthal spent twenty years in the New York City Police Department, where he ran the Heavy Weapons and Undercover Weapons Training programs and, as a detective in the Bronx dealt with homicide, narcotics, and armed robbery. Before joining the NYPD, he worked for U.S. Air Force military intelligence as a Russian language specialist. Pocket Books published his two popular books of police craft, Sky Cops and K-9 Cops, as well as his novel, The Murder of Old Comrades, "a spicy police procedural about KGB assassins on the loose in Manhattan," according to The Wall Street Journal, which "put Mr. Rosenthal on the map in big-league publishing."

True Crime/Jewish Studies/Biography
A Leapfrog Press Paperback Original
Pub Date: August, 2000
ISBN: 0-9654578-4-5
200 Pages/ 6 x 9 / 14.95

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