They’re all there, starting with Anthony Joseph Accardo (1906-1992), the Chicago mob leader known as Tony to crime pals, Mr. Accardo to underlings, Joe Batters to his subordinates, and as “having more brains before breakfast than Al Capone had all day” to syndicate supporters, and working through the alphabet to Abner “Longy” Zwillman (1899-1959), a crime-syndicate founder and New Jersey boss, one of the most feared of the Jewish Mafia, known as the “Al Capone of new Jersey,” and much revered for his love affair with Jean Harlow.
Between Accardo and Zwillman, Carl Sifakis explores the lives, reputations, exploits, and subcultures of more than 450 Mafia perpetrators and personalities. Sifakis describes the individuals, codes of behavior, misdeeds, legal scrapes, rivalries, and flamboyant lifestyles associated with the world of organized crime–an entity whose existence J. Edgar Hoover denied for 30 years. Sifakis’s research is thorough, and his subjects are nefarious and riveting. It’s his feel for storytelling, however, that makes his encyclopedia so enjoyable. He writes about infamous characters such as Al Capone (who felt his bootlegging was merely a public service) and John Gotti (a.k.a. the Teflon Don, who’s now serving a life sentence) as well as the Mafia Social Clubs, Donnie Brasco (the FBI agent who infiltrated the mob and sent more than 100 mobsters to prison), and the importance of slot machines to the post-Prohibition welfare of organized crime.
With nearly 100 pictures and illustrations, Sifakis’s mob opus is required reading for Mafia buffs, and a remarkably engaging guide for anyone interested in a factual report on organized crime.
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