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1-Sentence-Summary: Killing the Mob discusses a controversial topic – the mob, by outlining how the organized crime took place in America during the twentieth century, how conmen, robbers, murderers, and many others lived their lives, and how many organizations and rich families kept their power centralized.
Read in: 4 minutes
Favorite quote from the author:
Mafia and organized crime can sometimes become so powerful that they start to resemble day-to-day institutions. So many people join their movements, directly and indirectly. That they not only get away with their crimes but become symbols and gain worldwide fame. Throughout history, many characters fit this description: Bonnie and Clyde, John Dillinger, and Lucky Luciano to name just a few.
Despite remarkable efforts to eradicate the mafia, governments worldwide often failed terribly in doing so. Therefore, they’d start cooperating with them in exchange for peace. The downside of this toxic relationship is that it often led to corruption between the intermediary bodies, the authorities, and other entities that were supposed to fight the mob.
J. Edgar Hoover was one of those appointed to fight crime. This authoritarian leader was a fearful force in America. His achievements remain remarkable, as he was responsible for creating the FBI’s blacklist, catching Bonnie and Clyde, Lucky Luciano, and many others. However, he had a secret side, one that we’ll learn about more later.
Here are my three favorite lessons from the book:
- The mafia was engaged in anything that could make them money.
- John Edgar Hoover was, in fact, fighting two battles.
- The passion for law helped an ordinary officer to uncover the American mafia.
The fight between good and evil compiles many details and lessons for us. Let’s explore them!
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Lesson 1: For the mafia, cash inflow was their number one priority.
It’s no secret that the mafia is engaged in all kinds of activities, especially those that produce large inflows of cash. In Sicily, the mob took over people’s lives and the economy for generations, until fascists under the rule of Benito Mussolini chased them away to New York.
The government was cornered, so they had to cooperate with them in exchange for peace. Therefore, the criminal organization conducted by Lucky Luciano kept their economic activities in the port going. Another industry that sparked their attention was Hollywood.
Seeing that Jewish Eastern Europeans had talent when it comes to creating movies, but no money to produce them, they saw an opportunity. They would lend the needed cash and then take the profits.
Sometimes they would even step in and give indications to the staff. Oftentimes, the heads of the mob would gather around to discuss how they can take their criminal enterprise international. Usually, these actions included drug trafficking and covering their actions in suspicious ways.
On the other hand, conmen and thieves who were conducting crimes on their own were usually involved in bank robberies, breaking into people’s homes, and stealing cars. Needless to say, criminals will engage in everything that produces their money.
Lesson 2: The secret battle of J. Hoover took place behind the scenes.
Well-renowned for his remarkable endeavors, J. Edgar Hoover was living a secret life behind the curtains. Unfortunately, this situation interfered too much with his professional life. To the point that he was doing a poor job of acknowledging and fighting the mafia.
So what was his mysterious secret? According to the tales of the time, Hoover was seeing his second in command, Clyde Tolson.
More than that, he was blackmailed by the mafia, who knew all about it and even had evidence that could be easily leaked to the public. Considering the homophobic society of that time, this could’ve ended Hoover’s career, so he was doing everything in his power to hide his secret, including hiding the mafia’s secret operations.
Indeed, he was fighting individual conmen, robbers, and other criminals, but he publicly denied the existence of an organized criminal enterprise multiple times. Even though many people came forward by sending letters to the government to beg for public assistance, Hoover was in public denial.
The US Senate Committee even managed to subpoena hundreds of mobsters and their victims to conduct a public hearing. As it was televised, and the public eye could see the opulence of the mobs in contrast with the lives of their victims, you’d think that there was no way Hoover could keep his eyes closed to the situation. Surprisingly, he was still denying it, but not for too long.
Lesson 3: Crosswell’s passion for justice helped him catch 60 Mafiosi in one night.
Edgar Dewitt Crosswell was no renowned policeman. In fact, he was a simple man with a passion for law, living in Apalachin, a small town in New York state. However, one thing was very clear to him. That was his desire to catch Joseph Barbara, a mafia head who owned a high-end villa in the city.
Crosswell was truly intrigued by the thought of catching Barbara. So he would spend nights at the office for years just to put together ideas and strategies. One night, he had a brilliant thought, as he noticed that Barbara ordered luxurious food and booked top-tier rooms for the date of November 14th.
At that point, it was clear that the mafia boss was throwing a party, or a gathering of mafia leaders. Clearly, Crosswell was right. That night he ordered policemen in the area to surround the villa and wait for the Mafiosi. As they were discussing ways of taking their operations international and expanding into the textile industry, they had no idea of what was about to happen to them.
When they learned that they were being surrounded, they started to run off into the woods. The policemen were better prepared, so they managed to catch and detain 60 of them. The successful operation was all over the news the next day. WhenHoover found out all about it, there was no way for him to deny the existence of organized crime done by the Mafiosi.
Killing the Mob Review
Killing the Mob is a great read for those who like to learn more about the hidden gems in traditional history. Not only does it explore the facts and historical side of the mafia in the twentieth century, but it also delves into the personal lives of characters such as J. Edgar Hoover, or criminals like Bonnie and Clyde.
Therefore, the book manages to balance intrigue and history. This is in a way that captures the reader’s attention while leaving one wanting more.
Who would I recommend Killing the Mob summary to?
The 60-year-old who is passionate about the history of the FBI and the mafia of the twentieth century. The 20-year-old history student who wants to deepen their knowledge on these topics. Or the 40-year-old policeman who has a passion for law.
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