“Gripping . . . A valuable recounting of a lurid and little-known episode in American history.” — Washington Post Beginning in the summer of 1903, an insidious crime wave stirred New York City, then the entire country, into panic. The children of Italian immigrants were being kidnapped and dozens of innocent victims gunned down. Bombs tore apart tenement buildings. Judges, senators, Rockefellers, and society matrons were threatened with gruesome deaths. The perpetrators’ only calling card: the symbol of a black hand. Standing between the American public and the Black Hand’s lawlessness was Joseph Petrosino. Dubbed “the Italian Sherlock Holmes,” he was a dogged and ingenious detective and master of disguise. As the crimes grew ever more bizarre, Petrosino and his all-Italian police squad raced to capture members of the secret criminal society before the nation’s anti-immigrant tremors exploded into catastrophe. The Black Hand is a fast-paced story of mystery, terror, sacrifice, and honor in turn-of-the-century America, from a master of narrative nonfiction. “Taut, brisk, and very cinematic.” — Newsday
|Publisher:||Houghton Mifflin Harcourt|
|Product dimensions:||5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
STEPHAN TALTY is the award-winning author of Agent Garbo, Empire of Blue Water, and other best-selling works of narrative nonfiction. His books have been made into two films, the Oscar-winning Captain Phillips and Granite Mountain. He is also the author of two psychological thrillers, including the New York Times bestseller Black Irish, set in his hometown of Buffalo. He has written for the New York Times Magazine, GQ, and many other publications. Talty now lives outside New York City with his family.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Really good book
Joseph Petrosino was an Italian immigrant. He arrived in New York with his family when he was just a teen. His father, like many immigrants, had the mindset of making a better life in America. Upon arriving, Petrosino continued his schooling. Although he went longer than most, he ultimately quit in the sixth grade. After quitting school, he immediately went to work in order to help support his family. After leaving school, Joe became a shoe shiner. Here, Joe was able to make enough money to help support his family. Even though it was work, Joe wanted more. He wanted to work where he would have a place to advance. Knowing he wanted more, he abruptly quit his shoe shiner job and looked for work elsewhere. During this time he worked many jobs and traveled all over the country, before returning to New York. Upon returning to New York he began working for the sanitation department as a street cleaner. Because the sanitation department was being run by the police department, Joe felt there were advancement opportunities. He worked hard and soon saw himself moving up. With his new promotion, he was in charge of the boat that took the trash away from the city. One day while Joe was working, the officer who was in charge of Joe's department watched him work. After watching Joe work, the officer asked if Joe wanted to join the police force. This was the major advancement that Joe was looking for. As an officer, Joseph continued to work hard and was soon a well-known detective. People often knew him by his last name. With his great track record and his ethnic background, he soon landed the job of dealing with the Black Hand society (a mafia-like organization). With this Joseph saw many struggles when it came to investigating this group. In the beginning of this investigation, Joseph didn’t have a lot of help. The general thought about the Black Hand society was that it wasn’t a big threat. Although Joe truly cared about helping the victims of this secret group, he was running out of resources. After many discussions with the police chief, he was finally able to set up a task force. After setting up the force, Joe’s team still wasn’t treated equally. His team was not given the same respect or resources as the other officers. Since they were not given the same resources, they had to work harder in order to take on the society on their own. Although it was a hard battle, Joseph and his team took the investigation of the Black Hand Society head on. The Black Hand is a very informative read. It wraps a history lesson into a good story with interesting characters. For me, it was great to learn about a part of history that I have never heard of before. The book was well written and definitely a page turner. Every page kept me reading and wanting to know more about this secret society. Quill says: The Black Hand will give you insights into an intriguing part of history that is often overlooked.
It’s very rare that I willingly pick up a non-fiction book. From the very start of The Black Hand I was sucked in to an unknown world of the Italian mafia, filled with “threatening notes adorned with drawings of coffins and crosses and daggers.” It is described as “a record of crime here during the last 10 years that is unparalleled in the history of a civilized country in a time of peace.” Only the KKK would surpass The Black Hand society for production of mass terror. Based on those statistics alone, one can assume it was “a big deal”. And yet it’s as if history glances over this period of violence. As I was reading I became angry; instead of memorizing President’s names in high school, why weren’t we being taught this? I know some people may disagree with me, and that’s okay! Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I feel the more informed we are from a young age, the better chance we have of history NOT repeating itself. It is clear in Talty’s book that we are repeating mistakes we’ve made from hidden history. The intolerance American citizens had for Italian immigrants in the early 1900s is astounding, and is a reminder of a certain intolerance we have today. One of the biggest quotes that rocked me to my core was this: "To be Italian in America was to be half guilty." What I think is … humorous? ironic? sad? … is that each decade of history you could remove Italian and place a new race in there. My biggest question is, when is intolerance going to stop? Sadly, I do not see it happening any time soon. The Black Hand was truly an eye-opening read. Stephan Talty aptly delivers forgotten history in an engaging way. There’s no napping during these history lessons.