Gavin Schmitt’s The Milwaukee Mafia is entertaining history and an important scholarly contribution. It is a long overdue assessment of the substantiaGavin Schmitt’s The Milwaukee Mafia is entertaining history and an important scholarly contribution. It is a long overdue assessment of the substantial role of Milwaukee underworld figures in the evolution of American organized crime.
The author provides generous detail while shuffling at a moderate pace through the underworld events of nearly a century. Though Milwaukee’s organized crime history includes less mob violence than some larger U.S. cities, there are plenty of gangland murders to discuss. Schmitt handles these with frankness and attention to detail. He regularly suggests reasonable explanations for criminal acts that remain officially unsolved.
Through Schmitt’s book, Milwaukee emerges as a full partner in an international Sicilian criminal network. The city’s strong organized crime ties to Chicago are explored in depth, and Schmitt notes that the rise of Capone’s Outfit and the demise of the Sicilian Aiello clan in the Windy City heightened the importance of Milwaukee as a base for the more traditional Sicilian Mafiosi of the region. The author also pursues underworld and bloodline connections from Milwaukee to such places as Kansas City, Las Vegas, St. Louis, New Orleans, Pittsburgh... ...more
Hortis demolishes what we thought we knew about the Mob and builds a new history upon a solid foundation of exclusive documentary evidence and superbHortis demolishes what we thought we knew about the Mob and builds a new history upon a solid foundation of exclusive documentary evidence and superb insight. The Mob and the City is essential reading for all who seek to truly understand the phenomenon of organized crime in America's most populous city....more
McNee lovingly examines every facet of this favorite film. We learn of its origin in the writings of Maurice Walsh, of the decade and a half of real-wMcNee lovingly examines every facet of this favorite film. We learn of its origin in the writings of Maurice Walsh, of the decade and a half of real-world drama behind its making, of its setting in the Emerald Isle and its wonderful cast of stars and extras.
I've been watching and enjoying The Quiet Man all of my life. John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, Barry Fitzgerald, Victor McLaglen and Ward Bond are like members of the family now. But there were always a few things I found puzzling, pieces of the story that seemed to be missing. I reached out to McNee's book in the hope of completing the picture. And I was not disappointed.
Michaeleen's dual career as matchmaker/bookmaker, Father Lonergan's gambling, the identity of "Guppy," and more movie mysteries are resolved, as McNee goes back to the original short story and movie shooting script to reveal what was edited out of The Quiet Man. (If only we could reassemble a "director's cut" of this film.)
I strongly recommend this book for any who have great affection for The Quiet Man and wish to learn more about it, as well as for those who are interested in the history of motion pictures and the business of movie-making....more
Author Christian Cipollini expertly crafts the intriguing story of Chester Wheeler Campbell's life and criminal career. Campbell was a freelance killeAuthor Christian Cipollini expertly crafts the intriguing story of Chester Wheeler Campbell's life and criminal career. Campbell was a freelance killer, who worked for various narcotics outfits in the Midwest and was for a time considered the most-feared man in Detroit.
The narrative springs from a detailed description of a single, random event, the 1975 near-collision of Campbell's rented Oldsmobile with a Keego Harbor, Michigan, patrol car. The near-accident and brief law enforcement pursuit of Campbell resulted in police custody of the career criminal and his vehicle. Cipollini uses the event and the sundry items contained within the Oldsmobile not only to expose the career and character of the driver but also to explain much of the underworld history of the city of Detroit and the bloody operation of the narcotics trafficking business.
The author delves into the violent clashes between Mafia-associated and independent narcotics dealers, and the drug-related corruption of the local police. He also looks at the career of ex-police-officer-turned-drug-kingpin Henry Marzette, a character equally as interesting as Campbell.
The body of the book weighs in at just about 200 easily-read pages. There are sections that could have benefited from closer editing (I understand that a cleaned-up second edition is in the works), but the quality of the writing is generally good. ...more
In Lucky Luciano: The Real and the Fake Gangster, author Tim Newark set out to dispel myths and “tell the true story of the legendary gangster…” It waIn Lucky Luciano: The Real and the Fake Gangster, author Tim Newark set out to dispel myths and “tell the true story of the legendary gangster…” It was an enormous undertaking, and the author deserves our appreciation for tackling a historical record so contaminated by decades of misinterpretations, exaggerations and outright lies. Unfortunately, Newark’s book fell significantly short of its goal and may have provided additional support for some inaccurate underworld legends. Probably the greatest obstacle to a complete and accurate understanding of Luciano and related subjects is the 1975 book, The Last Testament of Lucky Luciano written by Martin A. Gosch and Richard Hammer. Newark repeatedly tackled Last Testament, but he did not entirely dismiss it as a source. At some points, he actually defended it. On the plus side, Newark did a fine job describing Luciano’s relationship with U.S. Naval Intelligence during World War II. He rightly gave Luciano little credit for Allied successes in Sicily. (These are subjects dealt with in Newark’s earlier book, Mafia Allies.) He also did an excellent job documenting Luciano’s trial for compulsory prostitution and followed Luciano during his Italian exile and during his brief time in pre-Castro Cuba. A number of errors crept into Newark’s work, especially when he strayed from his main subject. Most of these are minor. As we have known for some time, Tim Newark is a good writer and a capable and resourceful researcher. In portions of Lucky Luciano: The Real and the Fake Gangster, he also proves that he has a critical mind. Frustratingly, he elected not to use that valuable resource all the time....more
Mafia: Inside the Dark Heart sheds no new light on its primary subject – the history of the secret criminal society in its native land – and it does eMafia: Inside the Dark Heart sheds no new light on its primary subject – the history of the secret criminal society in its native land – and it does even worse when it crosses the Atlantic to explore the genesis of the Mafia in the United States. Maran’s simplistic view of the American Mafia seems to be based upon myths and misinterpretations. He suggests, for example, that early New Orleans Mafia patron Joseph Macheca was an immigrant (he was born in Louisiana), who ran riverboat casinos (not even close). The author’s discussions of the 1890 assassination of New Orleans Police Chief David Hennessy and the 1891 anti-Mafia lynchings include aspects of pure fantasy. In Maran’s version, Hennessy obtains ownership of a brothel in exchange for supporting the Provenzano underworld faction, the New Orleans lynch mob kills two Italian bystanders, the lynchings receive “universal approval,” and Sicilian underworld survivors all flee to New York City! Maran misplaces the 1903 New York barrel murder in 1908, sets back the date of the televised Valachi hearings by an entire decade, decides that the New York Mafia was unimportant before Joe Masseria and Salvatore Maranzano organized it in the 1930s, and announces that the first bosses of the five New York families were Charlie Luciano, Vito Genovese, Joe Bonanno, Joe Profaci and Carlo Gambino! (Well, he’s slightly more than half right.) And he does all of those unforgivable things by Page 110 in a narrative that runs some 385 pages....more
There are no significant new revelations or new admissions within this book. There are a few minor details that I do not recall mentioned in other BonThere are no significant new revelations or new admissions within this book. There are a few minor details that I do not recall mentioned in other Bonanno works (some background of Angelo Caruso, for example), but these are inconsequential. The early history of the American Mafia presented in The Last Testament of Bill Bonanno is a complete mess. Bonanno and his coauthor obviously did little to nothing in the way of research. Errors are abundant and apparent. Incorrect biographical information on famous gangsters across the country is presented: They moved Joe Aiello's birthplace from Bagheria to Castellammare and then similarly turned Philip Buccola of Boston and Joseph DiGiovanni of Kansas City into Castellammarese; they reduced U.S. Mafia boss of bosses Salvatore D'Aquila to a local crime figure in Newark; they had Luciano negotiating with Maranzano in a time when no one knew who Maranzano was; they stated that "hundreds" were killed in the Castellammarese War; they made Maranzano the first and only boss of bosses ever in the U.S. Mafia (he was the last of five); they repeated the old nonsense about Vito Cascio Ferro sending Maranzano to the U.S. to prepare for VCF's coming. (I could go on, but I'm making myself sick.) Despite a pledge to finally come clean on the "family business," Bill Bonanno sticks to his earlier stories (generally silly and self-serving ones) about the Joe Bonanno "kidnapping," the crime family's resistance to drug trafficking, Joe's absence from Apalachin and other events. That nonsense combines with the inexcusably inaccurate rendition of Mafia history to produce a book that is not worth price of admission. The Last Testament of Bill Bonanno proves that, even in his grave, Bill Bonanno has not tired of taking our money for his malarkey....more
Much of Al Capone and his American Boys is drawn from a manuscript written in the 1930s by Georgette Winkeler, wife of Capone-affiliated gangster GusMuch of Al Capone and his American Boys is drawn from a manuscript written in the 1930s by Georgette Winkeler, wife of Capone-affiliated gangster Gus Winkeler. Nearly released back then, the publisher decided it was “too hot” to publish and buried it. A copy of the manuscript turned up six decades later in FBI files. Gangland historian William J. Helmer prepared the manuscript for publication and added a substantial amount of clarification and supporting documentation. The result is a detailed insider's history of Capone’s specialassignment American Boys gang - Winkeler, Bob Carey, Ray Nugent, Fred Burke, Fred Goetz and Byron Bolton. Georgette's memoirs are captivating, revealing and well written. However, they are understandably not objective. She wrote from her biased memory. She obviously applied whitewash to her husband's participation in some of the most dramatic crimes of the Gangster Era. Helmer does not interfere in Georgette's minor whitewashing. However, he does step in with bracketed comments when Georgette strays significantly from the truth or omits critical data. Helmer also spreads throughout the book a collection of his own informative features, providing the details of important events and personalities. A minor error crept into the lengthy biographical notes section at the end of the book. Helmer stated that Capone underling Philip D’Andrea was the brother of former priest and early Chicago Mafia boss Anthony D’Andrea. Philip, in fact, was a nephew of Anthony D’Andrea (Philip was the son of Anthony's brother Luigi). Anthony D’Andrea did have a brother Philip, but he was much older than the Philip who worked for Capone. Al Capone and his American Boys is highly recommended for those interested in an insider's view of the major criminal events of the Gangster Era....more
Authors Beverly Ford and Stephanie Schorow have assembled a quick-moving 160-page book that puts recently captured fugitive James "Whitey" Bulger intoAuthors Beverly Ford and Stephanie Schorow have assembled a quick-moving 160-page book that puts recently captured fugitive James "Whitey" Bulger into his historic and geographic context. In addition to Bulger and his underworld cronies in the infamous Winter Hill Gang, the authors examine the major players and events in the New England Mafia, as well as various Irish gangsters and other shady characters who have called the Boston region their home. The authors, both accomplished Boston-area journalists, acknowledge that much of the local underworld history has been covered in other chronicles, biographies and even autobiographies and they suggest that their book be employed as a "scorecard to use while getting to know the players." It actually is a good deal more than a mere scorecard. The Boston Mob Guide is a concise retelling of major Boston-area gangland occurrences in light of recent developments. It includes the life stories of the major underworld players and abundant black and white photographs of relevant people and places. All in all, it is an enjoyable and informative primer on Boston organized crime for a general readership market....more