Although I am no fanatic, I do enjoy the odd book about the Mafia/La Cosa Nostra, provided it is informative and doesn't stray into the realms of speculation where there is no supporting evidence. I have read a good number over the years, and this biography seems to hit just the right balance in terms of readability and information. The author eschews the many myths that have grown up around Charley "Lucky" Luciano. Where other authors may have chosen to take a less rigorous approach to fact finding, Mr. Newark clearly refuses to accept unsupported evidence in several occasions, leaving the reader to come to his own conclusions. This is very refreshing, and is of particular merit when it comes to Luciano's so-called war effort, which was probably very much less than we have come to believe. This is a compact and well written description of Luciano's life, and I can't imagine you could want for more. It, of course, will only really appeal to those with an interest in this kind of genre, so as far as I am concerned I would be mean if I didn't give it the maximum rating.
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A very entertaining and informative read, which for me is a good companion to the infamous ‘Last Testament of Lucky Luciano’ book. The author does provide different angles to Luciano’s life as a mobster, from both a personal and business level. The only drawback for me with some aspects of the book, was how Tim Newark refused to believe or simply dismissed what has been part of the Luciano legend and given his own versions, that are equally presumptuous and based on historical records that were written by agencies that actually hated Luciano (so there word is going to be biased anyway). We know that Lucky was used by agencies to further their budgets and very existence, and so documents to reflect this would have been put together, and I feel the author buys way too much into the ‘official’ government versions of events. I mean we all know Luciano was a bad boy, but come on, are we that dumb to believe everything that the FBI or other agencies manufactured about him? Let’s not forget many observers, and more importantly real gangsters / mobsters of that time strongly deny any involvement on Luciano’s part in setting up vice rings, although he (Luciano) did admit he took a percentage of profits from these gangs, in order to provide his own unique form of protection. What I’m saying is that the author shouldn’t take the word of the FBI or other government agencies as gospel, which I believe to large extent he has done, and therefore a biased, agencies / government led version of Lucky Luciano’s life is on display.
No one, apart from probably Luciano’s closest friends knew the inner workings and mind of this criminal pioneer, but this book nevertheless keeps you riveted and offers some sound theories as to why Luciano was so feared in his early life. I think anyone with a general interest in organised crime should read both this and the Last Testament to get a flavour of how the mean streets of New York and beyond were carved up and controlled by Lucky and his peers. I don’t think it will be too long before a long overdue film about Lucky incorporates both books for an upcoming gangster flick.
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