$26.

00
$38.95/Canada
A MUST-READ FOR ANYONE SEEKING
TO UNDERSTAND THE TRUTH ABOUT
AMERICA'S MOST COMPELLING
CRIMINAL SUBCULTURE
Organized crime-the Italian-American
variety-has long been a staple of popular
entertainment. Now, Thomas Reppetto,
coauthor of the highly praised NYPD,
president of the New York City Citizens
Crime Commission, and a former com-
mander of detectives in Chicago, unravels
a history of the Mafia's rise that separates
fact from legend.
Reppetto's vivid narrative describes
how crime families from a variety ot ethnic
backgrounds were shaped by conditions in
big cities in the late nine eenth century.
Spurred by prohibitIon, which exploded
opportunities for organized crime, men
like Chicago's John Torno and New York's
Lucky Luciano built their organizations
along corporate lines, parceling out rri 0-
ries and adopting rules for the arbitration
of disputes. Good management and a tight
organizational structure enabled Italian
gangs to continue operations even when
leaders were jailed or rubbed out.
Though bootlegging ties to "legiti-
mate" businesses and cafe society gave
Mafia big shots a shadowy respectability,
it was bullets and bribes, not Stork Club
glamour, that counted. Additional muscle
accrued to the mob during the Depression,
when it successfully infiltrated the labor
unions. By the late 1940s, the American
Mafia had tentacles in Hollywood and De-
troit, Miami, New Orleans, and, of course,
Las Vegas. Frank Costello-known as the
(CO T1NUED 0 BACK FLAP)
0104
144 AMERICAN MAFIA
behave properly (Frank Costello's childless marriage to a non-Catholic met
the same response). Lucky claimed that he was likely to "end up on a slab,"
and didn't want to leave a widow. He also recollected that he and Frank
Costello were the only bosses who"didn't think that there was some kind of
Italian lawthat said he had to bang out a million kids." Perhaps his indepen-
dence was part of what made him successful.
At the base of the mob pyramid were "the boys"-perhaps as many as
500 in Luciano's family and 1,500 more scattered through the others, count-
ing some who were only loosely affiliated. Luciano made his boys dress as
sharply as he did, telling them, "Leave them wide-brimmed hats to Capone
and his Chicago guys." Becoming a "made member" could require elabo-
rate initiations involving ceremonial drawing of the initiate's blood and
swearing of oaths, and supposedly the membership books were closed after
the early 1930s. The simplest way to find out if someone belonged to a
group was to find out if the boss thought he did. The mobs did not pay a
regular salary, nor were they like robbery or burglary gangs that split up the
take so their boys had to scramble for their money. The advantages of
belonging to an organized crime gang lay elsewhere. Membership provided
political influence in case they got in trouble with t h ~ law-Luciano, espe-
cially, backed his boys to the hilt. It provided work in gambling, slugging for
hire, and loan-sharking. Sometimes a hoodlum who impressed his superiors
would be given a plum, such as a piece of a nightclub. His job would be
keeping an eye on the place to make sure the employees did not skim money
and rivals did not move in. If the joint had a chorus line, the overseer could
help himself.
Lives of the low-level gangsters are not well documented. Though Joe
Valachi's testimony about his superiors is suspect, his description of his own
career trajectory is fairly typical of his type. Born in East Harlem, he went
from a school truant to a petty criminal. At seventeen he was picked up in
NewJersey carrying a loaded gun; in his late teens he was an active burglar
and did a stretch in Sing Sing. After the 1931 wars he was a small-time gam-
bIer, sometimes in the chips, ending up a drug dealer. The pattern was the
same everywhere. Young men who came out of mob-dominated areas such
as East Harlem, the Lower East Side, Brooklyn's Williamsburg, or Chicago's
Lucky: The Rise and Rise of Charlie Luciano 145
Near West Side, Cleveland's Woodlands district, South Philadelphia, or the
North End of Boston had the best opportunity for making connections to
become mob soldiers.
New York was too big for a single unified organization, and the post-1931
structure that developed with Luciano at its head was the optimum arrange-
ment. It provided both concentrated power and dispersion, and as a result
eliminated or subordinated all rivals and gave better access to politics. In
both instances it benefited from its opponents' weaknesses. A few months
after Maranzano's murder, Legs Diamond, who had survived four previous
attacks, was surprised in an upstate hideout and filled with enough lead to
guarantee he would not cheat death. Vince ColI was caught by Dutch
Schultz gunmen in a drugstore phone booth-Owney Madden held him on
the line long enough for the killers to get to the scene.
The Depression was a bleak time for Broadway nightlife. Many theaters
and nightclubs went dark. Often it was mob money that kept places open.
Even if a nightspot was not profitable, it provided a place for gang members
to gather and enjoy the hot music and girls. Ritzy joints that catered to soci-
ety were no different. The Stork Club and El Morocco ("Elmo's" to the
elite) and many others had mob money behind them. The highest-paid
entertainers performed at the Copacabana, which everyone knew belonged
to Frank Costello. Willie Moretti's Riviera on the Jersey Palisades was just
over the George Washington Bridge from Manhattan. Though the place ran
gambling, it was even more noted for the quality of its entertainment. In the
thirties, a skinny young kid from nearby Hoboken named Frank Sinatra
made his career breakthrough there.
In the political sphere, the Seabury investigation that the Tepecanoe inci-
dent had launched was expanded into a general probe of municipal govern-
ment. Many officials could not explain why their bank deposits were so
large. The sheriff of New York County attributed his wealth to money that
somehow came out of a marvelous tin box in his attic. The public was not
amused by what was called the "the tin box parade." In 1932, when Seabury
brought charges against Mayor Walker himself, Governor Franklin D. Roo-
sevelt forced the mayor to resign. Downtown, Lucky Luciano decided it was
time for an Italian district leader and he "persuaded" Harry Perry, one of
\
)
(CONTINUED FROM FRO T FLA'
prime minister-and other underworld
figures lived like Old World princes.
How a locally grown organization of
criminals achieved, enhanced, and main-
tained power through long-established
alliances among local politicians, racke-
teers, and cops lies at the center of this
definitive account. With America" Mafia,
Thomas Reppetto has added flesh and
blood to one of the most notorious chap-
ters in our nation's history.
THOMAS REpPETTO, a former Chicago com-
mander of detectives, is president of the
New York City Citizens Crime Commis-
sion, and holds a PhD from Harvard He
is the coauthor of NYPD: ACity ami lis Polia,
a New York Times Notable Book.
Jack,! pholograph © APIWid, World PIdo.
Jacktt d"ign by John Canddl
WWW.HENRYHOLT.COM
A JOHN MACRAE BOOK
Henry Holt and Company
115 West 18th Street
New York, New York 10011
in UM<U by H. B. m. -.I eo..-, lM.
Printed in USA

$26.00 $38.95/Canada

A MUST-READ FOR ANYONE SEEKING TO UNDERSTAND THE TRUTH ABOUT AMERICA'S MOST COMPELLING CRIMINAL SUBCULTURE

Organized crime-the Italian-American variety-has long been a staple of popular entertainment. Now, Thomas Reppetto, coauthor of the highly praised NYPD, president of the New York City Citizens Crime Commission, and a former commander of detectives in Chicago, unravels a history of the Mafia's rise that separates fact from legend. Reppetto's vivid narrative describes how crime families from a variety ot ethnic backgrounds were shaped by conditions in big cities in the late nine eenth century. Spurred by prohibitIon, which exploded opportunities for organized crime, men like Chicago's John Torno and New York's Lucky Luciano built their organizations along corporate lines, parceling out rri 0ries and adopting rules for the arbitration of disputes. Good management and a tight organizational structure enabled Italian gangs to continue operations even when leaders were jailed or rubbed out. Though bootlegging ties to "legitimate" businesses and cafe society gave Mafia big shots a shadowy respectability, it was bullets and bribes, not Stork Club glamour, that counted. Additional muscle accrued to the mob during the Depression, when it successfully infiltrated the labor unions. By the late 1940s, the American Mafia had tentacles in Hollywood and Detroit, Miami, New Orleans, and, of course, Las Vegas. Frank Costello-known as the
(CO T1NUED 0 BACK FLAP)

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counting some who were only loosely affiliated. Lives of the low-level gangsters are not well documented. he went from a school truant to a petty criminal. The advantages of belonging to an organized crime gang lay elsewhere. The pattern was the same everywhere. At the base of the mob pyramid were "the boys"-perhaps as many as 500 in Luciano's family and 1." Becoming a "made member" could require elaborate initiations involving ceremonial drawing of the initiate's blood and swearing of oaths. He also recollected that he and Frank Costello were the only bosses who" didn't think that there was some kind of Italian law that said he had to bang out a million kids. Though Joe Valachi's testimony about his superiors is suspect." Perhaps his independence was part of what made him successful. and supposedly the membership books were closed after the early 1930s. It provided work in gambling. sometimes in the chips. nor were they like robbery or burglary gangs that split up the take so their boys had to scramble for their money." and didn't want to leave a widow. The simplest way to find out if someone belonged to a group was to find out if the boss thought he did. ending up a drug dealer. backed his boys to the hilt. in his late teens he was an active burglar and did a stretch in Sing Sing. the overseer could help himself. his description of his own career trajectory is fairly typical of his type. especially. His job would be keeping an eye on the place to make sure the employees did not skim money and rivals did not move in. Born in East Harlem. Young men who came out of mob-dominated areas such as East Harlem.500 more scattered through the others. Brooklyn's Williamsburg. Lucky claimed that he was likely to "end up on a slab. or Chicago's . At seventeen he was picked up in New Jersey carrying a loaded gun. Luciano made his boys dress as sharply as he did. Sometimes a hoodlum who impressed his superiors would be given a plum. After the 1931 wars he was a small-time gambIer. slugging for hire. such as a piece of a nightclub.144 AMERICAN MAFIA behave properly (Frank Costello's childless marriage to a non-Catholic met the same response). the Lower East Side. The mobs did not pay a regular salary. If the joint had a chorus line. "Leave them wide-brimmed hats to Capone and his Chicago guys. telling them. Membership provided political influence in case they got in trouble with th~ law-Luciano. and loan-sharking.

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It provided both concentrated power and dispersion. Lucky Luciano decided it was time for an Italian district leader and he "persuaded" Harry Perry. one of . The highest-paid entertainers performed at the Copacabana. Roosevelt forced the mayor to resign. Many theaters and nightclubs went dark. The Stork Club and El Morocco ("Elmo's" to the elite) and many others had mob money behind them. Ritzy joints that catered to society were no different. New York was too big for a single unified organization. Willie Moretti's Riviera on the Jersey Palisades was just over the George Washington Bridge from Manhattan. and as a result eliminated or subordinated all rivals and gave better access to politics. or the North End of Boston had the best opportunity for making connections to become mob soldiers. Many officials could not explain why their bank deposits were so large. it was even more noted for the quality of its entertainment. A few months after Maranzano's murder. Governor Franklin D. which everyone knew belonged to Frank Costello. the Seabury investigation that the Tepecanoe incident had launched was expanded into a general probe of municipal government. and the post-1931 structure that developed with Luciano at its head was the optimum arrangement." In 1932. was surprised in an upstate hideout and filled with enough lead to guarantee he would not cheat death. Vince ColI was caught by Dutch Schultz gunmen in a drugstore phone booth-Owney Madden held him on the line long enough for the killers to get to the scene. Downtown. a skinny young kid from nearby Hoboken named Frank Sinatra made his career breakthrough there. Cleveland's Woodlands district.Lucky: The Rise and Rise of Charlie Luciano 145 Near West Side. In the thirties. when Seabury brought charges against Mayor Walker himself. In the political sphere. In both instances it benefited from its opponents' weaknesses. The Depression was a bleak time for Broadway nightlife. it provided a place for gang members to gather and enjoy the hot music and girls. The sheriff of New York County attributed his wealth to money that somehow came out of a marvelous tin box in his attic. Though the place ran gambling. Even if a nightspot was not profitable. South Philadelphia. Legs Diamond. who had survived four previous attacks. The public was not amused by what was called the "the tin box parade. Often it was mob money that kept places open.

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B. Jack. is president of the New York City Citizens Crime Commission.I eo. and maintained power through long-established alliances among local politicians. New York 10011 \ ) Distribul~ in UM<U by H. and cops lies at the center of this definitive account. World PIdo. lM..COM A JOHN MACRAE BOOK Henry Holt and Company 115 West 18th Street New York. a former Chicago commander of detectives. and holds a PhD from Harvard He is the coauthor of NYPD: A City ami lis Polia. Printed in USA .(CONTINUED FROM FRO T FLA' prime minister-and other underworld figures lived like Old World princes. How a locally grown organization of criminals achieved. enhanced. racketeers.HENRYHOLT. With America" Mafia. m. -. Jacktt d"ign by John Canddl WWW. a New York Times Notable Book. Thomas Reppetto has added flesh and blood to one of the most notorious chapters in our nation's history.! pholograph © APIWid.-. THOMAS REpPETTO.

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