Gangland: How the FBI Broke the Mob

Gangland: How the FBI Broke the Mob

4.3 9
by Howard Blum

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In the bestselling tradition of Wiseguy and Boss of Bosses -- the inside story of the fall of the "Teflon Don"

The team: A handpicked squad of FBI agents -- led by a war hero determined to get the job done. The target: John Gotti, the seemingly invincible head of the richest and most powerful crime of modern-day Untouchables, the FBI's C-16…  See more details below


In the bestselling tradition of Wiseguy and Boss of Bosses -- the inside story of the fall of the "Teflon Don"

The team: A handpicked squad of FBI agents -- led by a war hero determined to get the job done. The target: John Gotti, the seemingly invincible head of the richest and most powerful crime of modern-day Untouchables, the FBI's C-16 Organized Crime squad, who finally ended the cocky crime lord's reign of terror.

Drawing on unprecedented access to FBI records and agents, bestselling author and prize-winning journalist Howard Blum tells the riveting and suspenseful story behind the headlines. Here is the deadly game of cat and mouse that pitted Gotti, his ruthless henchmen and his elusive law-enforcement mole against the Bureau.

It is a tale of courage, murder and betrayal. From Mafia backrooms to FBI squad rooms, from the high-tech electronic invasion of Gotti's headquarters to the desperate effort to expose the mole, Gangland is more shocking than fiction -- an instant Mafia classic.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Former New York Times reporter Blum reveals how the FBI captured mob leader John Gotti, an investigation that lasted seven years and cost $75 million. (Aug.)
Library Journal
Known as the ``Teflon Don'' for his ability to elude justice, mobster John Gotti gloried in his notoriety and power; time after time he walked away from another indictment a free man. No wonder that the FBI dedicated enormous technical and financial resources to bringing him down. Former New York Times investigative reporter Blum ( I Pledge Allegiance , LJ 11/1/87) interweaves the tale of Gotti's rise through the mob hierarchy with the story of FBI agent Bruce Mouw's single-minded efforts to accumulate enough evidence to bring about an indictment that would stick. Gotti's involvement in the murder of rival boss Paul Castellano is detailed, as are other instances of mob hits at the hands of Gotti's henchman, Sammy Gravano. Meanwhile, the FBI's efforts to plant bugs inside the Ravenite Social Club, Gotti's inner sanctum, were underway, ultimately yielding just enough information to form the makings of a case. With the arrest of the principal players, Gravano decided to testify against the boss, adding sufficient weight to put Gotti away for life without parole. Blum weaves all these strands into a compelling narrative that will keep readers turning pages to the satisfying conclusion. For all true crime collections. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 7/93.-- Ben Harrison, East Orange P.L., N.J.
Thomas Gaughan
Since Joe Valachi ratted out the Mafia in 1963, "omerta" has really taken a pounding. Every publishing season seems to spawn another three or four shelf-feet of nonfiction that takes us inside the secret criminal society and/or the law enforcement units dedicated to destroying it. Many are written by newspaper journalists who demonstrate book-writing skill only their accountants can love. "Gangland", the story of the FBI's five-year campaign to jail John Gotti, is the latest. Fortunately, it's also the best Mafia book in quite a few years. Former "New York Times" reporter Howard Blum secured the cooperation of the FBI, and the book is based largely on his interviews with the agents who finally nailed the Teflon Don, with federal attorneys, and even with Mafiosi such as Salvatore ("Sammy Bull") Gravano, Gotti's murderous underboss-turned-government-witness. In Blum's hands, the interview material fleshes out characters and enriches a story that is essentially about five years of mind-numbing surveillance and eavesdropping. Where excitement and tension are possible, as in an agent's meeting with an informant, Blum delivers. He's a good storyteller, and "Gangland" will soon be a film. Lots of your patrons will want it.
Kirkus Reviews
John Gotti now sits in a top-security federal prison, locked into his cell 23 hours a day, allowed to shower once a week. How the Mafia's capo di tutti capi reached that sorry fate is the subject of Blum's intensively researched, hypnotically absorbing true-crime report. There have been other excellent books on Gotti (e.g., John Cummings and Ernest Volkman's Goombata, 1990), but none written with Blum's flair for drama (Out There, 1990, etc.). What the former New York Times reporter does here is give Gotti a worthy opponent: FBI agent Bruce Mouw, hero to Gotti's villain, Eliot Ness to his Al Capone. To trace Mouw's pursuit of Gotti—which Blum dates back to the June 1980 day when the "gangly, rather scholarly-looking" Iowa-born agent was named to head the Bureau's Gambino Family squad—the author conducted 108 interviews and "made [his] way through a wall-high pile of transcripts." As Blum intercuts between Mouw's squad (which included Joseph F. O'Brien and Andris Kurins, whose surveillance of Gotti's predecessor, Paul Castellano, they detailed in Boss of Bosses, 1991) and Gotti's "crew" as it rises to power, this diligent research reveals itself in unusual details about Gotti's character (his affair with another mobster's wife; his courtroom reading of Thus Spake Zarathustra); in suspenseful re-creations of the bugging of Gotti's various headquarters; in inside information on how Mouw suborned Gotti's underboss. Blum tends to overmelodramatize—highlighting faint rumor (e.g., that Gotti chain-sawed the man who accidentally killed his young son); overplaying certain themes, like Mouw's hunt for a cop-mole, or the Dapper Don's smirk—but there's no denying thefire-breathing power of his Gotti or the cinematic slickness of his account of Mouw's dogged, righteous manhunt. FBI knight slays Mafia dragon—and Blum milks this latter-day fairy tale for all it's worth. (First serial to New York Magazine; film rights sold to Columbia Pictures)

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