Both William O'Dwyer, the 104th mayor of New York City, and Frank Costello, prime minister of the underworld, were immigrants, and there the similarity might have ended, except for the televised Kefauver hearings on organized crime in 1951 that linked them forever.
The smiling gregarious O'Dwyer, Irish to his toes, walked a policeman's beat while studying law and became the crusading district attorney who broke up Murder Inc.
Cotsello, the son of Calabrian peasants, turned early to crime in the streets of East Harlem, and never turned back. He and other young hoodsLucky Luciano, Meyer Lansky, Bugsy Siegel, Joe Adonisbuilt a national crime network that extended from numbers to narcotics, from New York to California.
A part of the syndicate's fiefdom was Tammany Hall. Only Tammany could crown a mayor. William O'Dwyer profoundly wished to be mayor of New York and in 1945 his wish came true. Then wide open gambling had a hey-daynumbers, race track wire services, crooked cops, a mob-controlled Tammany hall. And in the midst of it all, a burdened O'Dwyer, unwisely trusting in Tammany and his own subordinates, much beleaguered by gossip and by fact, was driven from office. Soon after, Senator Kefauver rode in on an electronic horse, and the scandals involving the mayor and the mob became public property.
George Walsh has written a very American story of two men who took different roads to the same destination, of two "Public Enemies" and the crime that was.