Noodles tells how he and his partners, Big Maxie, Patsy, and Cockeye, grew from teen-age delinquents into full-blown hoodlums and the overlords of the lower East Side underworld during Prohibition. From petty thievery and errand running for dope runners to participation in most of the rackets you have ever heard of, and from fun with the local nymphomaniac to a different woman every night, this is the general progress they make. It becomes somewhat dull as our heroes are led from one job after another for the Combination, each explained educationally (how to break a strike, dispose of a body, hoist diamonds, bootleg liquor, etc.) and with details of such similarity that events begin to blur. Frank Costello, Vincent Coll, and others eminent in this field land a certain verisimilitude, just as George Washington might to some historical novel. The characters show little growth, though an attempt is made to show that Noodles has a soul- he wonders whether they should kill someone or not, and he reads good books... A verbatim diagram, in the vernacular, which is simple but sordid to follow.