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The Last Testament of Lucky Luciano

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message 1: by Thomas (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:05PM) (new)

Thomas (tphunt) | 38 comments I'm interested to hear any/all thoughts on the book, The Last Testament of Lucky Luciano, by Martin A. Gosch and Richard Hammer. I understand we could be seeing a movie based on that book in the next year or so.

I don't have a lot of background on the book. As I understand it, filmmaker Martin Gosch supposedly conducted a number of interviews with Luciano. The pair hoped in 1959 to make a movie of Luciano's life and worked together on a script. The movie plan was scrapped for some reason (the mob was supposed to have disapproved of the idea - some say Tommy Eboli flew to Italy to convince Luciano to give up the idea), but then the pair agreed around 1960-61 to cooperate on a book (I have no idea how the mob could possibly have approved of a book).

Gosch insisted that the book was based on tape-recorded interviews with Luciano. Crime writer Richard Hammer, who had a solid working knowledge of organized crime and had written an extensive history of the mob for Playboy, coauthored the book.

Luciano died more than a decade before his alleged "Last Testament" made it into print. Gosch also passed away before the book was published. So, the participants in the interviews weren't around when people began to question the book.

The FBI took interest in the book and decided that Gosch's claim of basing it on Luciano interviews was false. As far as I know, no interview tapes have ever been produced to verify Gosch's claim.

To those who have read the book, I ask the following questions:

1. Do you believe that Gosch interviewed Luciano?
2. Do Charlie Luciano's quotes/language ring true?
3. How much weight should Last Testament accounts be given when they conflict with other sources?

- Tom

message 2: by Rick (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:06PM) (new)

Rick (rickmattix) | 28 comments Hi Tom,

I've long considered Last Testament to be largely fiction and mostly Gosch's imagination but obviously he did know and talk to Luciano whether it was recorded or not and that has to be factored in along with Hammer's own knowledge of Mob history. I think there's probably a lot of factual stuff in it but it would be really tough to sort out.


message 3: by Randy (new)

Randy | 1 comments Thomas,

You ask an interesting question. Lots of crime writers have slammed that book. But lots of organized crime writers hate having their turf tread on. And all would kill to have a book like that. I read that book long ago, back in the 70's. I have read many other mob books over the years, particularly about the era the Last Testament deals with. There is something interesting about that book that the critics can't deny: it gives certain information, correct information, that went against the published fantasies that crime writers were perpetrating. One of them being the night of Sicilian Vespers, when Maranzano was killed. Crime writers, the so called experts, all said old Mustache Pete mafioso were killed all over the country after Maranzano got his from Lucky. But in the book, Lucky says that part of the plan was never put into effect. It was not needed. And guess what? A check of criminal activity after the Marazano hit shows the book was exactly right! In total contravention of accepted writings by the same crime writers and experts who attacked the book. Makes you wonder, doesn't it? How did the false book know the real truth about the Night Of Vespers myth when all the crime experts and even Joe Valachi said it happened? So I think much of the book was actually from Luckys mouth. Perhaps Gosch did add things, but there is strong evidence that much of it did indeed come from Lucky.

message 4: by Rajesh (new)

Rajesh Jilka | 1 comments I have now read the book 3 times.
I understand where the critics of the book come, however i do feel the words were directly from Charlie Luciano.
The details in which certain events occurred seem to reign true. I've come to the conclusion that Martin Gosch did add quotes here and there to fill the gap's he may have had when putting the puzzle together after Luciano's death.
In my humble opinion, during his time in court Lucky was asked 'Do you tell the truth when you are under oath?' with which Charlie answered 'I'm telling the truth now'. This answer planted a seed as i read on that he was not being honest in his account of Vito Genovese and his participation in the drug ring from Italy / Turkey / France. I do believe Charlie was active in the operation, to what degree is hard to tell unless FBI & FBN release further information.
The Palermo summit of 1957 is not mentioned in the book, likely Charlie was present along with Joseph Bonnano and Carmine Galante (Who would later be a huge importer of narcotics to north america via the French Connection).
The chances that Charlie was not there is slim in my eyes. As very few top bosses came to Sicily or Italy, and Lucky still wielding influence within the mob, the timing of the meeting is no coincidence. It was a heated time in New York as Lucky's confidante Albert Anastasia was killed and Vito attempting a takeover by trying to kill Frank Costello.
Joe Bonanno in his own autobiography has clearly stated he and Lucky were on good terms through-out their time. Both men seemed to have the same respect and understanding with each other, which isn't easy.
My theory is that the meeting was both drug related and was a golden opportunity to meet with an old friend to hopefully frame Vito somewhere down the line.

I have a number of mafia books, specializing in the years between 1920-1960. With authors out to sell books with their interpretations of events, of course authors are going to disagree with The Last Testament.
The Bonanno's book, i feel as if The Last Testament is a rare climpse into the mafia's birth to its slow decline over the century.

Also, i advise any mafia enthusiast to pick up 'Official & Confidential' by Anthony Summers. The book is a fascinating insight into the private life of J Edgar Hoover. It takes you into the darkest aspects of the FBI and its activities during Hoover's tenure. The book reveals something extraordinary.
J Edgar Hoover may very well have been homosexual, with first hand accounts of sexual activity via ex-wife of Lewis Rosensteil and a girlfriend of a mutual friend who witnessed both Hoover and Toleson holding hands at a News Years Eve party. Shockingly a mysterious photo of Hoover taking part in a form of sex game with toleson found its way into the hands of Meyer Lansky who apparently controlled the images. Though the pictures have been been published, the authenticity is said to be legit by those within the CIA and other agencies.
Funny enough, the FBI's stance on the mafia strengthened only after J Edgar Hoover's death. Just food for thought.

message 5: by Thomas (new)

Thomas (tphunt) | 38 comments Thanks for your post, Rajesh.

At this point - a half dozen years after starting this message string - I find myself in disagreement with virtually every point you've made. I conclude that The Last Testament of Lucky Luciano is untrue. During his encounter with Luciano, Martin Gosch was attempting to win Luciano approval of a fictional movie script, believing a Luciano nod would help him to sell the thing - the project was never a biography of Luciano until after Luciano was dead. Some time later, Gosch reportedly gave a collection of his own hand-scribbled notes to Hammer as source material for the book. Those notes managed to burst into flames as the book was published, and the basic detail of their existence cannot be verified. If they did exist, their contents will forever remain unknown. After Gosch's death and just as the book was to be released, the publisher announced that the book was based upon taped interviews with Luciano. There were never any tapes. The reading public has often remarked that the the quotes attributed to Luciano ring true. Well, during an interview with Tim Newark (author of Lucky Luciano: The Real and the Fake Gangster), Hammer acknowledged that he created the Luciano-speech in Last Testament. (So the quotes could not have been based on the Gosch notes.) We cannot dispute that Gosch met Luciano, but whatever information or quotes he obtained in the meeting are either lost or buried within the fabricated tales of Last Testament. The book contains numerous errors of details that were surely known to the real Mafia boss. The bottom line: It is useless as a source.

The idea that Luciano may have attended a secret meeting in Palermo about the drug trade is unsound. Luciano was constantly followed by Italian authorities and U.S. intelligence agents in Italy. The meeting and the drug network could not have been secret for very long if Luciano attended.

There is NO evidence that compromising photographs of J. Edgar Hoover ever existed. If such photos existed, there can be no explanation for them remaining secret at this time. There has been rampant speculation about Hoover's sexuality. Most of that comes from a very poor source with an ax to grind. The FBI became aggressive toward organized crime following Apalachin, while Hoover was still alive (so what became of the photograph-related blackmail threat?).

- Tom

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