The Chicago Syndicate: Book Recommendations
Showing posts with label Book Recommendations. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Book Recommendations. Show all posts

Monday, August 19, 2019

Organized Crime in the United States 1865-1941


  • Why do Americans alternately celebrate and condemn gangsters, outlaws and corrupt politicians?
  • Why do they immortalize Al Capone while forgetting his more successful contemporaries George Remus or Roy Olmstead?
  • Why are some public figures repudiated for their connections to the mob while others gain celebrity status?


Drawing on historical accounts, in Organized Crime in the United States 1865-1941, author Kristofer Allerfeldt analyzes the public’s understanding of organized crime and questions some of our most deeply held assumptions about crime and its role in society.

Allerfeldt is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Exeter. He has published extensively on American history, with a special interest in the history of American crime and its interpretation. He lives in the United Kingdom.


Monday, July 29, 2019

Martin Scorsese's Latest Mob Movie #TheIrishman Set for World Premiere at @TheNYFF

Film at Lincoln Center announces Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman as Opening Night of the 57th New York Film Festival (September 27 – October 13), making its World Premiere at Alice Tully Hall on Friday, September 27, 2019. The Irishman will be released in select theaters and on Netflix later this year.



The Irishman is a richly textured epic of American crime, a dense, complex story told with astonishing fluidity. Based on Charles Brandt’s nonfiction book I Heard You Paint Houses: Frank 'The Irishman' Sheeran and Closing the Case on Jimmy Hoffa, it is a film about friendship and loyalty between men who commit unspeakable acts and turn on a dime against each other, and the possibility of redemption in a world where it seems as distant as the moon. The roster of talent behind and in front of the camera is astonishing, and at the core of The Irishman are four great artists collectively hitting a new peak: Joe Pesci as Pennsylvania mob boss Russell Bufalino, Al Pacino as Teamsters president Jimmy Hoffa, and Robert De Niro as their right-hand man, Frank Sheeran, each working in the closest harmony imaginable with the film’s incomparable creator, Martin Scorsese.

“The Irishman is so many things: rich, funny, troubling, entertaining and, like all great movies, absolutely singular,” said New York Film Festival Director and Selection Committee Chair Kent Jones. “It’s the work of masters, made with a command of the art of cinema that I’ve seen very rarely in my lifetime, and it plays out at a level of subtlety and human intimacy that truly stunned me. All I can say is that the minute it was over my immediate reaction was that I wanted to watch it all over again.”

“It’s an incredible honor that The Irishman has been selected as the Opening Night of the New York Film Festival. I greatly admire the bold and visionary selections that the festival presents to audiences year after year,” said Martin Scorsese. “The festival is critical to bringing awareness to cinema from around the world. I am grateful to have the opportunity to premiere my new picture in New York alongside my wonderful cast and crew.”

Campari is the exclusive spirits partner for the 57th New York Film Festival and the presenting partner of Opening Night, extending its long-standing commitment to the world of film and art.

Presented by Film at Lincoln Center, the 17-day New York Film Festival highlights the best in world cinema, featuring works from celebrated filmmakers as well as fresh new talent. The selection committee, chaired by Jones, also includes Dennis Lim, FLC Director of Programming, and Florence Almozini, FLC Associate Director of Programming.

Tickets for the 57th New York Film Festival will go on sale to the general public on September 8. Festival and VIP passes are on sale now and offer one of the earliest opportunities to purchase tickets and secure seats at some of the festival’s biggest events, including Opening Night. Support for Opening Night of the New York Film Festival benefits Film at Lincoln Center in its non-profit mission to support the art and craft of cinema.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

LBJ: The Mastermind of the JFK Assassination

The explosive true story of how a deranged Lyndon Johnson conspired to murder the President of the United States.

LBJ: The Mastermind of the JFK Assassination, aims to prove that Vice President Johnson played an active role in the assassination of President Kennedy and that he began planning his takeover of the US presidency even before being named the vice-presidential nominee in 1960. Lyndon B. Johnson’s flawed personality and character traits, formed as a child, grew unchecked for the rest of his life as he suffered severe bouts of manic-depressive illness. He successfully hid this disorder from the public as he bartered, stole, and finessed his way through the corridors of power on Capitol Hill, though it’s recorded that some of his aides knew of his struggle with bipolar disorder.

After years of researching Johnson and the JFK assassination, Phillip F. Nelson conclusively shows that LBJ had an active role in JFK’s assassination, and he includes newly-uncovered photographic evidence proving that Johnson knew when and where Kennedy’s assassination would take place. Nelson’s careful and meticulous research has led him to uncover secrets from one of the greatest unsolved mysteries in our country’s history.


Friday, July 12, 2019

Bleeding Out: The Devastating Consequences of Urban Violence--and a Bold New Plan for Peace in the Streets by @Abt_Thomas

From a Harvard scholar and a Senior Fellow at the Kennedy School, a powerful proposal for curtailing violent crime in America

Urban violence is one of the most divisive and allegedly intractable issues of our time. But as Harvard scholar Thomas Abt shows in Bleeding Out: The Devastating Consequences of Urban Violence--and a Bold New Plan for Peace in the Streets, we actually possess all the tools necessary to stem violence in our cities.

Coupling the latest social science with firsthand experience as a crime-fighter, Abt proposes a relentless focus on violence itself -- not drugs, gangs, or guns. Because violence is "sticky," clustering among small groups of people and places, it can be predicted and prevented using a series of smart-on-crime strategies that do not require new laws or big budgets. Bringing these strategies together, Abt offers a concrete, cost-effective plan to reduce homicides by over 50 percent in eight years, saving more than 12,000 lives nationally. Violence acts as a linchpin for urban poverty, so curbing such crime can unlock the untapped potential of our cities' most disadvantaged communities and help us to bridge the nation's larger economic and social divides.

Urgent yet hopeful, Bleeding Out offers practical solutions to the national emergency of urban violence -- and challenges readers to demand action.


Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The Mob and the City: The Hidden History of How the Mafia Captured New York

Forget what you think you know about the Mafia. After reading this The Mob and the City: The Hidden History of How the Mafia Captured New York, even life-long mob aficionados will have a new perspective on organized crime.

Informative, authoritative, and eye-opening, this is the first full-length book devoted exclusively to uncovering the hidden history of how the Mafia came to dominate organized crime in New York City during the 1930s through 1950s.  Based on exhaustive research of archives and secret files obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, author and attorney C. Alexander Hortis draws on the deepest collection of primary sources, many newly discovered, of any history of the modern mob.

Shattering myths, Hortis reveals how Cosa Nostra actually obtained power at the inception.  The author goes beyond conventional who-shot-who mob stories, providing answers to fresh questions such as:   

* Why did the Sicilian gangs come out on top of the criminal underworld? 
* Can economics explain how the Mafia families operated? 
* What was the Mafia's real role in the drug trade? 
* Why was Cosa Nostra involved in gay bars in New York since the 1930s?

Drawing on an unprecedented array of primary sources, The Mob and the City is the most thorough and authentic history of the Mafia's rise to power in the early-to-mid twentieth century.


Monday, June 24, 2019

Crook County: Racism and Injustice in America’s Largest Criminal Court

Nicole Gonzalez Van Cleve’s "Crook County: Racism and Injustice in America's Largest Criminal Court" offers new insight into the processes of everyday “colorblind racism” within one of the largest court systems in the United States. This well-written and engaging book offers a remarkably relevant and important analysis of the U.S. criminal justice system by focusing on attorneys, judges, and the courtrooms in which they practice and adjudicate the law. While more attention has been focused on race and policing, criminal courts are a central actor in perpetuating the racialized outcomes evident in U.S. jails and prisons. Gonzalez Van Cleve documents and analyzes how powerful, disproportionately white male decisionmakers create and shape an extraordinarily corrupt and systemically racist system.

Crook County is based on over 1,000 hours of ethnographic observations of court proceedings, as well as interviews with judges and lawyers, giving the reader a truly original and path-breaking sense of how racism is embedded in the “inside” of the criminal justice system. The findings reveal a frankly heartbreaking account of a complicated habitus where race and class are continually reinforced in the negative assumptions about the poor and people of color that lawyers and judges make, and how the treatment of these accused individuals affirms “racialized rules” and color-blind racism.

What sets Gonzalez Van Cleve’s work apart from numerous accounts of racial inequality in arrests, sentencing, and treatment of the poor and people of color is her analysis of the everyday workings of the criminal justice system. Her research reveals everyday racial microaggressions articulated and practiced by lawyers and judges before a judgement is even rendered through racialized rules and scripts that routinely disorient and subjugate low-income people of color. Throughout the book, Gonzalez Van Cleve cracks open the door not only of courtrooms, but also of judge’s chambers and attorney’s offices, to show how prosecutors, judges, and public defendants regularly engage in racist practices that abuse both defendants and their families.

Beginning with her entrance into the Gang Crimes Unit where the white state attorneys bore such names as “Beast-Man Miller,” the author entered a world that denies the humanity of African American and Latinos through racialized cultural practices that demean the defendants and facilitate wrongful convictions. The ethnography provides numerous examples of how this system operates, such as when an elderly African American woman, leaning on her oxygen tank for support appeared before the judge to plead for her life saying she did not mean to kill her husband who had abused her for years. She was berated by the judge for being a “bad person” with little reference to the crime for which she was charged. Using Garfinkel’s work as a point of departure alongside of research on colorblind racism, Gonzalez Van Cleve argues this is but one example of racial degradation ceremonies pervasive in the courtroom that focus on judgments of immorality directed at defendants of color and the poor.

Such stories are analyzed in dialogue with relevant research but with a level of detail that is rarely found in other work on the topic and reflects the countless hours of ethnographic observation and interviews she and her research assistants undertook. Throughout this book, Gonzalez Van Cleve gives additional breadth and depth to Malcolm Feeley's notion that the “process is the punishment.” This book is impressive for the rigor of the data collection and analysis, poignancy of the narratives, and beautifully written observations that deepen our understanding of the ways in which racialized punishment operates in our legal system.


Monday, June 10, 2019

Cullotta: The Life of a Chicago Criminal, Las Vegas Mobster, and Government Witness

From burglary to armed robbery and murder, infamous bad guy Frank Cullotta not only did it all, in Cullotta: The Life of a Chicago Criminal, Las Vegas Mobster, and Government Witness, he admits to it--and in graphic detail.

This no-holds-barred biography chronicles the life of a career criminal who started out as a thug on the streets of Chicago and became a trusted lieutenant in Tony Spilotro's gang of organized lawbreakers in Las Vegas. Cullotta's was a world of high-profile heists, street muscle, and information--lots of it--about many of the FBI's most wanted. In the end, that information was his ticket out of crime, as he turned government witness and became one of a handful of mob insiders to enter the Witness Protection Program.

"Frank Cullotta is the real thing," says Nicholas Pileggi in the book's Foreword, and in these pages, Cullotta sets the record straight on organized crime, witness protection, and life and death in mobbed-up Las Vegas.

Thursday, June 06, 2019

Check out True Crime Addict by @JamesRenner

When an eleven year old James Renner fell in love with Amy Mihaljevic, the missing girl seen on posters all over his neighborhood, it was the beginning of a lifelong obsession with true crime. That obsession leads James to a successful career as an investigative journalist. It also gave him PTSD. In 2011, James began researching the strange disappearance of Maura Murray, a UMass student who went missing after wrecking her car in rural New Hampshire in 2004. Over the course of his investigation, he uncovers numerous important and shocking new clues about what may have happened to Maura, but also finds himself in increasingly dangerous situations with little regard for his own well-being. As his quest to find Maura deepens, the case starts taking a toll on his personal life, which begins to spiral out of control. The result is an absorbing dual investigation of the complicated story of the All-American girl who went missing and James’s own equally complicated true crime addiction.

James Renner’s True Crime Addict: How I Lost Myself in the Mysterious Disappearance of Maura Murray, is the story of his spellbinding investigation of the missing person’s case of Maura Murray, which has taken on a life of its own for armchair sleuths across the web. In the spirit of David Fincher’s Zodiac, it is a fascinating look at a case that has eluded authorities and one man’s obsessive quest for the answers.


Wednesday, May 15, 2019

"Siege: Trump Under Fire" is the Sequel to the Bombshell Bestseller "Fire and Fury" by Author @MichaelWolffNYC

Michael Wolff, author of the bombshell bestseller Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, once again takes us inside the Donald Trump presidency to reveal a White House under siege.

Michael Wolff — who enraged President Trump with his international bestseller "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House," about pandemonium in the first-year White House — will be out June 4 with a sequel, "Siege: Trump Under Fire."

The book, "about a presidency that is under fire from almost every side," begins with Year 2 and ends with the delivery of the Mueller report. The publisher says: "'Siege: Trump Under Fire' reveals an administration that is perpetually beleaguered by investigations and a president who is increasingly volatile, erratic, and exposed."

"Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House" sold more than 4 million copies in all formats worldwide, according to Henry Holt, which is publishing both books.

Publishing sources say "Siege: Trump Under Fire" is about what Wolff considers the insurmountable legal, personal and political challenges ahead of Trump — about everybody coming after him.

The publisher says Wolff interviewed 150 sources for the new book. We're told the two key groups of sources were former senior officials, and acquaintances outside the White House who talk to Trump at night and that more than two-thirds of the book's essential sources talked to Wolff again. Indeed, some of them sought him out, knowing he was working on what was being called "Fire and Fury II."

Wolff didn't seek an interview with Trump in an effort to avoid legal action that might delay the book. Trump threatened to sue to stop publication of "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House," which he called a "phony book." That backfired and stoked sales.

With Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, Michael Wolff defined the first phase of the Trump administration; now, in Siege: Trump Under Fire, he has written an equally essential and explosive book about a presidency that is under fire from almost every side. A stunningly fresh narrative that begins just as Trump’s second year as president is getting underway and ends with the delivery of the Mueller report, Siege reveals an administration that is perpetually beleaguered by investigations and a president who is increasingly volatile, erratic, and exposed.


Friday, May 03, 2019

Book Signing for Ghost: Secrets of an FBI Undercover Agent at @TheMobMuseum

INSIDE JOBS: SECRETS OF AN FBI UNDERCOVER AGENT

Date: May 9, 2019
Time: 7 p.m. in the Historic Courtroom
Cost: Free for Members or with Museum Admission

FBI Special Agent Michael R. McGowan (Retired) is the co – author, along with New York Times bestseller author Ralph Pezzullo, of the fascinating memoir tilted Ghost – My Thirty Years as an FBI Undercover Agent, recapping his more than 30 years of dedicated service within the FBI, the majority of which was spent working undercover against some of the most dangerous, sophisticated, and notorious criminal organizations and individuals throughout the world, having participated in excess of 50 FBI Undercover Operations. Ghost was released nationally on October 2, 2018, and was ranked #1 New Release on Amazon under Law Enforcement Biographies. In addition, the book’s film rights have now been optioned to Sylvester Stallone’s new production company, Balboa Productions, for development as a feature film.

For over 30 years, Special Agent McGowan successfully infiltrated the Italian LCN (La Cosa Nostra/”The Mob”) and Russian Organized Crime groups, Mexican drug cartels, Outlaw motorcycle gangs, contract murderers, and corrupt politicians, all resulting in significant arrests, seizures, and lengthy incarcerations. He has been recognized at the highest levels of the FBI and Department of Justice for his FBI UCO assignments, both domestically and internationally.

In the FBI’s-109 year history, Special Agent McGowan is the only FBI Agent with the following unique experiences: Successfully infiltrating three separate Mafia families – the Merlino/Luisi Philadelphia/Boston Family (1998-99); the Rhode Island faction of the Patriarca Family (2000-2005); and the Boston faction of the New England LCN (2008), resulting in the indictment and incarceration of one Boss, one UnderBoss, two capos, a national Union President, union officials, and dozens of LCN associates and soldiers. No other FBI Agent has infiltrated more than one LCN Family. Successfully infiltrating the Mexican Sinaloa Cartel and indicting the notorious head of the world’s most powerful Drug cartel organization and the most wanted fugitive in the world, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera, and his Executive Management board – the only successful US law enforcement undercover penetration of the Sinaloa Cartel. Seized more than $15 million dollars of Cartel drugs without the expenditure of any FBI drug buy funds (2009-2012).

Successfully infiltrating two Pakistani heroin trafficking organizations on separate occasions resulting in the indictment and incarceration of a top five international drug baron and the seizure of over 100 kilograms of almost pure heroin, valued at $400 million dollars, again without the expenditure of any FBI drug buy funds. The combined seizures are ranked as two of the top, if not top, heroin seizures ever within the United States (1992-1994) and (1995-1996).

Falsely accused and investigated by the FBI of stealing $180 million dollars of drugs from a secured FBI evidence vault. Was interrogated with Miranda Warnings more than 20 times, had major case fingerprints taken in front of co-workers, and had his reputation and integrity temporarily destroyed by the false allegation. Later assisted in identifying the correct suspect. (1994).

In addition to the above FBI undercover assignments, Special Agent McGowan was also intimately involved in the 2001 “PENTBOM” 9/11 Boston investigation, and the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings investigation. Special Agent McGowan also served as an FBI SWAT Team member for more than 10 years, and prior to joining the FBI, served as a Police Detective/Police Officer for several years, and received commendations for his arrests on homicide, sexual assault, armed robbery, and other violent felony offenses.

In his post-FBI career after retiring in 2017, Special Agent McGowan continues to provide training and mentoring to new law enforcement undercover agents, and now also provides consultant and technical advising services to the entertainment industry. Special Agent McGowan recently served as the law enforcement consultant/technical advisor on the set of Equalizer 2, directed by Antoine Fuqua and starring Denzel Washington and Pedro Pascal. He is currently at work consulting and advising on other Fuqua Films development projects.

He is also at work on his second novel, Wrong Move , a James Michael Devonshane FBI fictional thriller series led by an unconventional, less-than-perfect but relentless FBI Agent battling not only the bad guys in the street but the internal and risk-averse forces within FBI management sitting inside safely behind their pristine desks. Special Agent McGowan lives in New England with his family and now fifth child, a 5-year-old badly behaved English Crème Golden Retriever.

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Ghost: My Thirty Years as an FBI Undercover Agent

The explosive memoir of an FBI field operative who has worked more undercover cases than anyone in history.

Within FBI field operative circles, groups of people known as “Special” by their titles alone, Michael R. McGowan is an outlier. 10% of FBI Special Agents are trained and certified to work undercover. A quarter of those agents have worked more than one undercover assignment in their careers. And of those, less than 10% of them have been involved in more than five undercover cases. Over the course of his career, McGowan has worked more than 50 undercover cases.

In this extraordinary and unprecedented book, McGowan will take readers through some of his biggest cases, from international drug busts, to the Russian and Italian mobs, to biker gangs and contract killers, to corrupt unions and SWAT work. Ghost: My Thirty Years as an FBI Undercover Agent, is an unparalleled view into how the FBI, through the courage of its undercover Special Agents, nails the bad guys. McGowan infiltrates groups at home and abroad, assembles teams to create the myths he lives, concocts fake businesses, coordinates the busts, and helps carry out the arrests. Along the way, we meet his partners and colleagues at the FBI, who pull together for everything from bank jobs to the Boston Marathon bombing case, mafia dons, and, perhaps most significantly, El Chapo himself and his Sinaloa Cartel.

Ghost: My Thirty Years as an FBI Undercover Agent, is the ultimate insider's account of one of the most iconic institutions of American government, and a testament to the incredible work of the FBI.



Monday, April 15, 2019

Doing Justice: A Prosecutor's Thoughts on Crime, Punishment, and the Rule of Law

By the one-time federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York, Doing Justice: A Prosecutor's Thoughts on Crime, Punishment, and the Rule of Law, is an important overview of the way our justice system works, and why the rule of law is essential to our society. Using case histories, personal experiences and his own inviting writing and teaching style, Preet Bharara shows the thought process we need to best achieve truth and justice in our daily lives and within our society.

Preet Bharara has spent much of his life examining our legal system, pushing to make it better, and prosecuting those looking to subvert it. Bharara believes in our system and knows it must be protected, but to do so, we must also acknowledge and allow for flaws in the system and in human nature.
   
The book is divided into four sections: Inquiry, Accusation, Judgment and Punishment. He shows why each step of this process is crucial to the legal system, but he also shows how we all need to think about each stage of the process to achieve truth and justice in our daily lives.
   
Bharara uses anecdotes and case histories from his legal career--the successes as well as the failures--to illustrate the realities of the legal system, and the consequences of taking action (and in some cases, not taking action, which can be just as essential when trying to achieve a just result).
   
Much of what Bharara discusses is inspiring--it gives us hope that rational and objective fact-based thinking, combined with compassion, can truly lead us on a path toward truth and justice. Some of what he writes about will be controversial and cause much discussion. Ultimately, it is a thought-provoking, entertaining book about the need to find the humanity in our legal system--and in our society.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Former Acting Director Fires Back in "The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump"

There is no love lost between Donald Trump and Andrew McCabe, the former deputy director (and, briefly, acting director) of the FBI.

During his campaign for president, Mr. Trump claimed that Mr. McCabe, who was in charge of investigating whether Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server compromised classified information and national security, had a conflict of interest. In exchange for a promise not to indict her, Mr. Trump maintained, Mrs. Clinton had directed Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe to transfer $700,000 to the campaign coffers of Mr. McCabe’s wife, who was running for the Virginia state senate.

Mr. Trump continued his tweets against Andrew McCabe from the White House. Not surprisingly, Mr. McCabe believes the president is responsible for a finding by the inspector general that he “lacked candor on four separate occasions.” And for a decision by the attorney general to fire him — 26 hours before his scheduled retirement.

In “The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump,” Mr. McCabe fires back. He devotes most of his book to a review of his career at the FBI, highlighting his role in combating the operations of Russian organized crime on American soil; investigating the Boston Marathon bombing; terrorist threats on New York City subways; the attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya; Mrs. Clinton’s email server; Russian interference in the 2016 elections and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.

Greater public knowledge of FBI activities, accomplishments and the constitutional constraints under which law enforcement agents operate is urgently necessary, Mr. McCabe emphasizes. By identifying the FBI and the CIA with the “Deep State,” declaring that their leaders are corrupt, incompetent and partisan, and taking the word of Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-Un over experts he has appointed, Mr. Trump, Mr. McCabe asserts, is doing lasting damage to the intelligence-gathering services of the United States.

The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump” is filled with examples, some familiar, some new, of Mr. Trump’s breaches of propriety and historical norms, lies, mean-spirited behavior and, most important, his interference with investigations, indictments and prosecutions by the Justice Department and Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

The president was upset, Mr. McCabe reveals, that James Comey was allowed to fly home from Los Angeles after he was fired as FBI director. He demanded that Mr. Comey be forbidden from entering the FBI building to clear out his office.

According to Mr. McCabe, Mr. Trump made the self-evidently unsubstantiated claim that “at least 80 percent” of FBI personnel had voted for him. He stated as well that “so many FBI people” had contacted him to say they were glad Mr. Comey was gone. Such contact, Mr. McCabe points out, would have violated White House policy. And, Mr. McCabe indicates, the president, who demands loyalty to him, asked, “Who did you vote for?”

Some readers, no doubt, will dismiss “The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump” as an exercise in score settling. After all, it is obvious that Mr. McCabe is not a disinterested observer. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who fired Mr. McCabe, it is worth noting, are skewered in this book as well.

That said, “The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump” should be judged by the credibility (and, where possible, corroboration) of the analysis. And Mr. McCabe concludes with concerns (shared by many) that, in my judgment, should command the attention of readers across the political and ideological spectrum.

Donald Trump did not invent partisanship and polarization. But our country does seem more divided than it’s been for more than a century. And Mr. McCabe provides evidence to support his assertion that the president is “actively pushing” an agenda that encourages his supporters to identify themselves as “the real Americans,” stigmatize others and seek to lock them up, and accept as “facts” only information that is presented by their media outlets.

Mr. McCabe “would love to imagine a future in which we have righted the ship.” But other than endorsing traditional values — obedience to the Constitution, fairness, compassion, individual and institutional integrity, accountability, public service and diversity — he comes up empty. Perhaps we cannot begin until and unless we agree that the threat is real.

Thanks to Glenn Altschuler.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

The Untold Story of the Gangland Bloodbath That Brought Down Al Capone

Thanks to Art Bilek for sharing with us a deep account for the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. It will make a nice addition to any Mobologist's library: The St. Valentine's Day Massacre: The Untold Story of the Gangland Bloodbath That Brought Down Al Capone.

During Prohibition, Chicago’s Beer Wars turned the city into a battleground, secured its reputation as gangster capital of the world, and laid the foundation for nationally organized crime. Bootlegger bloodshed was greater there than anywhere else.

The machine-gun murders of seven men on the morning of February 14, 1929, by killers dressed as cops became the gangland "crime of the century." Since then it has been featured in countless histories, biographies, movies, and television specials. The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, however, is the first book-length treatment of the subject. Unlike other accounts, it challenges the commonly held assumption that Al Capone decreed the slayings to gain supremacy in the Chicago underworld. The authors assert the deed was a case of bad timing and poor judgment by a secret crew from St. Louis known to Capone’s mostly Italian mob as the "American boys."

The target of the murder squad was indeed Bugs Moran, but the "American boys," who were dressed as policemen and arrived in two bogus police cars, arrived early at the garage where the massacre took place. When no one in the garage would admit he was Bugs Moran, the bogus cops stupidly killed them all. Much of the evidence to this effect emerged shortly after the massacre but was deftly ignored by law enforcement officials. It began to resurface again in 1935 with a manuscript written by the widow of one of the gunmen and a lookout’s long-suppressed confession. Indeed, law enforcement tried very hard not to solve the crime, for under any rock the cops turned over there might be a politician, and under the St. Valentine’s Day rock they would have found several. In the end, the machine gun bullets heard ’round the world marked the beginning of the end for Al Capone.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Chicago Heights: Little Joe College, the Outfit, and the Fall of Sam Giancana

In this riveting true story of coming of age in the Chicago Mob, Charles “Charley” Hager is plucked from his rural West Virginia home by an uncle in the 1960s and thrown into an underworld of money, cars, crime, and murder on the streets of Chicago Heights.

Street-smart and good with his hands, Hager is accepted into the working life of a chauffeur and “street tax” collector, earning the moniker “Little Joe College” by notorious mob boss Albert Tocco. But when his childhood friend is gunned down by a hit man, Hager finds himself a bit player in the events surrounding the mysterious, and yet unsolved, murder of mafia chief Sam Giancana.

Chicago Heights: Little Joe College, the Outfit, and the Fall of Sam Giancana, is part rags-to-riches story, part murder mystery, and part redemption tale. Hager, with author David T. Miller, juxtaposes his early years in West Virginia with his life in crime, intricately weaving his own experiences into the fabric of mob life, its many characters, and the murder of Giancana.

Fueled by vivid recollections of turf wars and chop shops, of fix-ridden harness racing and the turbulent politics of the 1960s, Chicago Heights reveals similarities between high-level organized crime in the city and the corrupt lawlessness of Appalachia. Hager candidly reveals how he got caught up in a criminal life, what it cost him, and how he rebuilt his life back in West Virginia with a prison record.

Based on interviews with Hager and supplemented by additional interviews and extensive research by Miller, the book also adds Hager’s unique voice to the volumes of speculation about Giancana’s murder, offering a plausible theory of what happened on that June night in 1975.



Thursday, January 24, 2019

The Big Con: Great Hoaxes, Frauds, Grifts, and Swindles in American History is Another Winner from @NateHendley

The Big Con: Great Hoaxes, Frauds, Grifts, and Swindles in American History, examines a broad range of infamous scams, cons, swindles, and hoaxes throughout American history―and considers why human gullibility continues in an age of easy access to information.


  • Explores figures such as "Yellow Kid" Weil, Charles Ponzi (from whom we get the term “Ponzi scheme”), Orson Welles, and Frank Abagnale, among others
  • Provides insight into human nature―gullibility being one aspect of it―throughout the ages, addresses the power of rumor and legend, and identifies the social conditions that have allowed some scams and hoaxes to flourish
  • Presents information that can serve academic research projects as well as fascinate and entertain general readers
  • Features the original stories behind the Hollywood movies The Sting, Catch Me If You Can, Argo, and American Hustle


In addition, The Big Con: Great Hoaxes, Frauds, Grifts, and Swindles in American History, looks at scams and scammers such as Bernie Madoff, online romance fraud, the Nigerian Prince email, disaster fraud, pyramid schemes, medical fakery and other forms of deceit.

Learn about the tricks of the conman trade and how old scams continue to flourish under new guises. Also learn how to avoid being duped by fraudsters.

Very readable. The Big Con is one of those books that you can pick up and start reading anywhere. There is an extensive bibliography at the back for further reading suggestions. Mr Hendley has done sceptics a genuine courtesy by assembling the history of frauds, cons, scams and hoaxes into one beautiful volume.” –The Miramichi Reader

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Let Me Finish: Trump, the Kushners, Bannon, New Jersey, and the Power of In-Your-Face Politics by Chris Christie

Let Me Finish: Trump, the Kushners, Bannon, New Jersey, and the Power of In-Your-Face Politics - by Chris Christie.

From the outspoken former governor, a no-holds-barred account of Chris Christie's rise to power through the bare-knuckle politics of New Jersey and his frank, startling insights about Donald Trump from inside the president's inner circle.

After dropping out of the 2016 presidential race, Chris Christie stunned the political world by becoming the first major official to endorse Donald Trump. A friend of Trump's for fifteen years, the two-term New Jersey governor understood the future president as well as anyone in the political arena--and Christie quickly became one of Trump's most trusted advisers. Tapped with running Trump's transition team, Christie was nearly named his running mate. But within days of Trump's surprise victory over Hillary Clinton, Christie was in for his own surprise: he was being booted out.

In Let Me Finish: Trump, the Kushners, Bannon, New Jersey, and the Power of In-Your-Face Politics, Christie sets the record straight about his tenure as a corruption-fighting prosecutor and a Republican running a Democratic state, as well as what really happened on the 2016 campaign trail and inside Trump Tower. Christie takes readers inside the ego-driven battles for Trump's attention among figures like Steve Bannon, Corey Lewandowksi, Reince Priebus, Kellyanne Conway, Jeff Sessions, and Paul Manafort. He shows how the literal trashing of Christie's transition plan put the new administration in the hands of self-serving amateurs, all but guaranteeing the Trump presidency's shaky start. Christie also addresses hot-button issues from his own years in power, including what really went down during Bridgegate. And, for the first time, Christie tells the full story of the Kushner saga: how, as a federal prosecutor, Christie put Jared Kushner's powerful father behind bars--a fact Trump's son-in-law makes Christie pay for later.

Packed with news-making revelations and told with the kind of bluntness few politicians can match, Christie's memoir is an essential guide to understanding the Trump presidency.


Let Me Finish: Trump, the Kushners, Bannon, New Jersey, and the Power of In-Your-Face Politics

Monday, January 07, 2019

Blood Aces: The Wild Ride of Benny Binion, the Texas Gangster Who Created Vegas Poker

They say in Vegas you can’t understand the town unless you understand Benny Binion — mob boss, casino owner, and creator of the World Series of Poker. Beginning as a Texas horse trader, Binion built a gambling empire in Depression-era Dallas. When the law chased him out of town, he loaded up suitcases with cash and headed for Vegas. The place would never be the same.

Dramatic as any gangster movie, Blood Aces: The Wild Ride of Benny Binion, the Texas Gangster Who Created Vegas Poker, draws readers into the colorful world of notorious mobsters like Clyde Barrow and Bugsy Siegel. Given access to previously classified government documents, biographer Doug J. Swanson provides the definitive account of a great American antihero, a man whose rise from thugdom to prominence and power is unmatched in the history of American criminal justice.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

HANDSOME JOHNNY—The Life and Death of Johnny Rosselli: Gentleman Gangster, Hollywood Producer, CIA Assassin

A rich biography of the legendary figure at the center of the century’s darkest secrets: an untold story of golden age Hollywood, modern Las Vegas, JFK-era scandal and international intrigue from Lee Server, the New York Times bestselling author of Ava Gardner: Love is Nothing…

A singular figure in the annals of the American underworld, Johnny Rosselli’s career flourished for an extraordinary fifty years, from the bloody years of bootlegging in the Roaring Twenties--the last protégé of Al Capone—to the modern era of organized crime as a dominant corporate power. The Mob’s “Man in Hollywood,” Johnny Rosselli introduced big-time crime to the movie industry, corrupting unions and robbing moguls in the biggest extortion plot in history. A man of great allure and glamour, Rosselli befriended many of the biggest names in the movie capital—including studio boss Harry Cohn, helping him to fund Columbia Pictures--and seduced some of its greatest female stars, including Jean Harlow and Marilyn Monroe. In a remarkable turn of events, Johnny himself would become a Hollywood filmmaker—producing two of the best film noirs of the 1940s.

Following years in federal prison, Rosselli began a new venture, overseeing the birth and heyday of Las Vegas. Working for new Chicago boss Sam Giancana, he became the gambling mecca’s behind-the-scenes boss, running the town from his suites and poolside tables at the Tropicana and Desert Inn, enjoying the Rat Pack nightlife with pals Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. In the 1960s, in the most unexpected chapter in an extraordinary life, Rosselli became the central figure in a bizarre plot involving the Kennedy White House, the CIA, and an attempt to assassinate Fidel Castro. Based upon years of research, written with compelling style and vivid detail, Handsome Johnny: The Life and Death of Johnny Rosselli: Gentleman Gangster, Hollywood Producer, CIA Assassin, is the great telling of an amazing tale.

Friday, October 26, 2018

The Insane Chicago Way - the Untold History of Local Latino Gangs

You wanna be a punk gang member or do you wanna be a gangster? This guy there has his pants hanging off his ass—the gang member standing on the street corner. This guy there has got tunnel vision, only sees so far. . . . This guy here—the gangster . . . is going to all the fine restaurants and nightclubs and going to political fundraisers, getting things done."

These are the words of Sal Martino, or at least the man called "Sal Martino" in criminologist and author John Hagedorn's most recent book, The Insane Chicago Way (University of Chicago). Concealing Sal's identity was paramount.

"We had to be careful not to be seen together by anyone from the world of organized crime, gangs, the media, or law enforcement," Hagedorn explained in a musty Lakeview home lined with books and potted plants, where academics, students, activists, and onetime major gang chiefs gathered together to celebrate the publication of The Insane Chicago Way: The Daring Plan by Chicago Gangs to Create a Spanish Mafia.

Sal and Hagedorn met in seedy hotels and dingy restaurants with few customers in places far from the west-side neighborhood known as the Patch, where members of the local Mafia are known to reside. "We also met in private locked cubicles in libraries across the city. I registered under my name and almost always gave the reason for the meeting 'Law Enforcement.'"

In the privacy of those locked cubicles, Sal told Hagedorn stories he had never heard before. "Now, I'd been doing gang research for almost 30 years," Hagedorn told me. "I doubted that anything some guy I'd never heard of could say was something I hadn't heard many times before. I was wrong." Hagedorn later corroborated the facts with his own gang contacts. What began to take shape was the daring plan of gang leaders incarcerated in Statesville—Fernando "Prince Fernie" Zayas from the Maniac Latin Disciples, Anibal "Tuffy C" Santiago from the Insane Spanish Cobras, and David Ayala from the Two Sixers—to create a local Latino Mafia.

In 1989 they established one of the most structured gang organizations in Chicago: the Spanish Growth and Development (SGD). With a strict set of rules, dispute-mediating mechanisms, and exclusively Latino membership, SGD was driven by the urgent need to control bloodshed on the streets.

By 1990, murders had hit dizzying heights, with more than 40 shot in Humboldt Park alone. "Killing people and doing drive-by shootings is bad for business," Sal said. "All it does is bring the attention of law enforcement. When law enforcement has all eyes on you, no one can make any money. And there is billions and billions of dollars out there to be made."

In an effort to overcome deadly rivalries between Hispanic gangs, SGD created an intergang structure modeled after the Chicago Mafia. "The agenda was power," Sal explained. The Insane Chicago Way posits that the Mafia exerts a larger influence on contemporary gangs than law enforcement believes, mostly through a complex network of "associates" who act as middlemen between the two criminal organizations.

SGD members also infiltrated and corrupted the police, either by paying "bones," a percentage of drug profits, to cops, or by entering the CPD as double agents. "Gang researchers have largely avoided investigating police misconduct and official corruption," Hagedorn contends in his book. His detailed account of the guisos ("robbery of drug dealers") carried out by crooked police officer Joseph Miedzianowski and later by the CPD Special Operations Section is merely a glimpse of police corruption and its profound impact on gangs. "Without the cops, none of this stuff could happen," cracks the Don, a Mafia elder.

Hagedorn confesses that the book is partly an attempt to understand why SGD could not stop the rampant violence on the west side. "Police, the press, and the public all saw the carnage as irrational and basically about turf, revenge, or drugs," he writes in The Insane Chicago Way. The collapse of the SGD left in its wake fractured gangs and a breakdown in gang leadership. "I'm doing these juvenile life-without-parole cases," Hagedorn told me. "I got 100 kids coming back to Cook County Jail waiting for resentencing. And they can't believe the disorganization of gang members today. It is all up in the air. The structure has been broken."

I asked Hagedorn how his book was received by the gangs. "It has been making the rounds," he laughed. "Word on the street is I got it right."

Thanks to Annette Elliot.


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