Gangbusters: The Destruction of America's Last Mafia Dynasty

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The American Mafia, legendary for its ability to survive and flourish in the face of all attempts to stamp it out, now lies in ruins. The pivotal battle in that war was the destruction of the Mafia's most glittering crown jewel, the Lucchese Family of New York. Gangbusters is the story of how this supremely successful criminal gang was finally destroyed. It is the tale of how a colorful coterie of FBI agents, prosecutors, and police detectives - among them such singular characters as Dr. Bugs, Marathon Man, Jaws,...
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Overview

The American Mafia, legendary for its ability to survive and flourish in the face of all attempts to stamp it out, now lies in ruins. The pivotal battle in that war was the destruction of the Mafia's most glittering crown jewel, the Lucchese Family of New York. Gangbusters is the story of how this supremely successful criminal gang was finally destroyed. It is the tale of how a colorful coterie of FBI agents, prosecutors, and police detectives - among them such singular characters as Dr. Bugs, Marathon Man, Jaws, Kenny the Giant, The Falcon, and Ghost Who Walked - overcame the early years of bureaucratic inertia, high-level political corruption, and interagency rivalry to achieve final victory. In a decade of hand-to-hand combat, they destroyed the men long considered untouchable - Tommy Three Fingers, Tony Ducks, Christy Ticks, Tom Mix, Gas Pipe, and The Terminator. Based on interviews with antagonists on both sides of the law, court records, transcripts, and police intelligence files, Gangbusters tells the history of a criminal enterprise from the inside - the men who made it flourish, how they operated, and the real world of organized crime.
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Editorial Reviews

Charles Salzberg
Volkman tells a fascinating tale of murder, mayhem, deceit, treachery and stupidity, sucking the last bit of romanticism out of a life in organized crime. -- NY Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
After coauthoring an Edgar-nominated bio of John Gotti (Goombata, 1990) and an account of the $8-million 1978 Lufthansa robbery that provided grist for the film Goodfellas (The Heist, 1986), among other books, Volkman has now written an exciting, intelligent and detailed study of the most successful law-enforcement assault on organized crime in U.S. history. Of the five rival Mafia clans vying for control of New Yorkthe Lucchese, Bonnano, Colombo, Genovese and Gambino familiesthe Luccheses were the richest and best organized of the lot. Yet by 1995, high-ranking capos were reduced to shaking down deadbeats for pocket money. Volkman charts the family's meteoric rise in lively detail, capitalizing on colorful gangland anecdotes without losing sight of the murderous brutality and crushing stupidity that accelerated their descent. He identifies as the main causes of their decline the Narcotics Control Act of 1955, the reorganization of the FBI following the death of J. Edgar Hoover in 1972 and, most tellingly, the "reverse natural selection" that seemed to breed dumber and dumber Dons, and explains their respective impacts. The Mafia history is balanced with profiles of the dedicated police detectives, FBI agents and U.S. attorneys who pioneered and perfected the tactics that brought the Lucchese family to its knees. Well-paced, evenhanded and insightful, this look into a derelict empire's rise and fall is excellent both as a case study and as an introduction to organized crime. (June)
Library Journal
Volkman (Espionage, LJ 11/1/95) tells the story of the rise and decline of the American Mafia, specifically of the long-powerful Lucchese crime family of New York. He traces the Lucchese organization from its beginnings in New York's East Harlem just after World War I to its sorry state in the mid-1990s. The passage of Prohibition was a growth opportunity the Lucchese family saw and grabbed. They were further helped by the refusal of J. Edgar Hoover to recognize "organized crime families" as a reality. The FBI instead spent the late 1940s and 1950s fighting "Cold War" enemies as the Mafia grew powerful. In the early 1960s, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy forced Hoover to recognize and target the Mafia. Ammunition was provided by the Civil RICO act, which made organized crime a federal offense. Ultimately, the Lucchese family suffered an assault by the FBI, Organized Crime Task Forces, RICO, informants, and its own inability to produce new leaders. Well researched if not scholarly, this popular account has all the appeal of Mario Puzo's The Last Don. A colorful description of a colorful aspect of American crime; highly recommended for public libraries.Sandra K. Lindheimer, Middlesex Law Lib., Cambridge, MA
Kirkus Reviews
Former Newsday correspondent Volkman (Spies, 1994) returns to his home turf, the peccadilloes of America's organized crime families. A recent story in the New York Times detailed the hard times that have befallen the Mafia, an organization now so bankrupt of leadership that its much-vaunted "Commission" hasn't met in over five years. But there was a time, not so long ago, when these gangsters controlled vast segments of the American economy, both legal and illegal. As Volkman deftly details, under the inventive leadership of men like Lucky Luciano, Meyer Lansky, and the less-known Gaetano Lucchese, La Cosa Nostra managed to corrupt a variety of industries, including garbage hauling, concrete, New York's garment center, and a variety of blue-collar labor unions. They were able to maintain their control of these businesses through a combination of cunning, intimidation, and violence, aided by the curruption of local law enforcement and the stupidity and political machinations of J. Edgar Hoover. With Hoover's death and the remaking of the FBI, the development of new anti-racketeering laws by Congress, and the aging of the Mob's leadership, these criminal enterprises became newly vulnerable. Gradually, thanks to hard-nosed police work by local and federal agencies and relentless prosecution by a handful of attorneys, chinks appeared in the Mafia's wall of silence, chinks that would finally become great yawning gaps. Today the Mafia is virtually deceased, a handful of street gangs battling for nickels and dimes. Volkman tells the story of the rise and fall of the Lucchese family, one of the most successful and least publicized of the organized crime groups, with vigor and zest. The firstthird of the book, recounting the process of consolidation that led to the creation of the modern Mob, is a bit overly familiar, but the rest is a fast-moving tale, told with gusto. (b&w photos, not seen)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780571199426
  • Publisher: Faber and Faber
  • Publication date: 4/13/1998
  • Pages: 318
  • Product dimensions: 6.26 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 1.17 (d)

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