Published by St. Martin’s Press, Two-Gun Cohen is an intriguing biography by Daniel S. Levy (distributed in Canada by McClelland & Stewart). The son of orthodox Jewish parents, the title character was a con man, card sharp and pickpocket from east-end London who was arrested, sent to reform school, then shipped to western Canada. Hustling and picking pockets as he wandered from Manitoba to British Columbia, Cohen regularly played poker at a Chinese gambling hole in Saskatoon, where he rescued a Chinese man from burglars.
That selfless act earned him the respect of the Chinese community, the friendship of Sun Yat-Sen and, ultimately, a career in the Chinese revolution. Even though he never learned Chinese, Cohen — who sported two pistols wherever he went — sailed to China and became a general in the nationalist army. ♦