Arkansas Godfather


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Owney Madden lived a seemingly quiet life for decades in the resort town of Hot Springs, Arkansas, while he was actually helping some of America’s most notorious gangsters rule a vast criminal empire. In 1987, Graham Now first told Madden’s story in his book The English Godfather, in which he traced Madden’s boyhood in England, his immigration to New York City, and his rise to mob boss. Nown also uncovered a love story involving Madden and the daughter of the Hot Springs postmaster.


In this new, updated version of Nown’s book, we see a world where people can break the law without ever getting caught, and where criminality is so entwined in government and society that one might wonder what is legality and what isn’t.

Graham Nown (1944-1997) was a journalist and broadcaster who lived in the United Kingdom. He spent four years researching Madden’s life.

Distributed for the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies.