Why do I have such a fascination for gangsters? The only reason I can think of is that having been inculcated with the concept of being law abiding, I am just curious to see what is on the other side of the fence? In the post script, authors Capeci and Musrain write about the mail Gotti would receive whilst in jail from all over the world, so I am not alone in my fascinations.
Gotti (ISBN 978-0-09194-318-9, Ebury Press, 2013) co-written by Jerry Capeci and Gene Mustain, crime reporters who had been commenting on John Gotti and the Gambino family for nine years. Most of their information about what led to the rise and fall of John Gotti came from face to face interviews, but naturally, most did not want their names associated with the information.
Perhaps to show the size and depth of their research, the authors thank over 90 people covering underground friends, associates, lawyers (on both sides) and family.
Quite early in the book, the hierarchy of the Cosa Nostra in America is detailed, plus the initiation rites, and incidentally some of the rackets carried on by the Cosa Nostra members (‘made’ men). The code of (dis)honor included that made men must not deal in drugs or violate another man’s wife of children. The penalty for transgression was death. The threat was patently not enough to keep the Cosa Nostra drug-free!
The Cosa Nostra, with its various levels reporting to the one above has been called an honor code, but it was really kept together by fear of the level above. Assassinations are a great way to keep unruly members in line.
During one of one of his more famous trials, the defense team decided the best strategy was to pressure the Assistant US Attorney heading the team for the prosecution. The detailed examination of the ensuing court battle made for enthralling reading and kept me turning page after page in disbelief that the American justice system could be so malleable, or able to be controlled by outside influences (read Cosa Nostra influences).
Gotti became so infamous during one of his trials that Time magazine had Andy Warhol paint his portrait for the cover. His ability to bend the American justice machine to acquit him was so obvious that he was known as the Teflon Don, as no charge would stick to him.
Of interest was the alliance that eventually was formed between the Irish mobsters (the Westies) and the Italian mobsters. This was big business, with the Irish given lease on their turf for 10 percent of their takings and 50 percent if it were a joint scam. The Cosa Nostra employed good bookkeepers and accountants.
With the Federal Law Enforcement agencies looking at ways to nail Gotti, the IRS were also conducting their own investigations. After all, they got Al Capone through that way.
The price of books seems to be going down, and at B. 435 on the Bookazine shelves that is not a big ask for a book as detailed as this. It satisfied my fascination, and I am sure it will yours.