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Gangster Squad: Covert Cops, the Mob, and the Battle for Los Angeles Mass Market Paperback – July 31, 2012

77 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

From its title, you might think this is a quickie tie-in to the forthcoming Josh Brolin and Sean Penn movie. But, in fact, it’s a detailed, exciting account of the LAPD’s special “gangster squad” from its formation in the mid-1940s to the late ’50s, including the trial of legendary mobster Mickey Cohen. Lieberman, a longtime newspaperman, has a real flair for his material, telling the story like he was writing a big-shouldered, fedora-wearing crime novel (“Gus Wunderlich looked like a dolt with his snaggletooth grin and one of the squarest noggins ever seen on a human being”). He’s writing about a very different time, too, one in which the difference between good guys and bad guys was so blurred as to be, in some cases, entirely theoretical, a time when cops could be every bit as tough, mean, and violent as their foes. Full of action and drama, with fully realized, real-life crime fighters and villains, the book is a sure-fire hit for fans of Untouchables-style true crime, as well as for James Ellroy devotees. --David Pitt --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

I'm all in on this book. Got a little Mission Impossible in there. Got a little Dirty Dozen in there. Got a little Bud White from L.A. Confidential in there. All set on the mean Noir streets of L.A. I dig the circa. I did the milieu. And I dig the cast of characters. (Dennis Miller)
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks; Movie Tie-In edition (July 31, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250027853
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250027856
  • Product Dimensions: 4.1 x 1.2 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #815,144 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By C L on August 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is the true story of a group of hard headed cops going up against a group of hard headed criminals in the 1940's and 1950's. There was so much going on in those decades inside the Los Angeles Police Department and inside the criminal world and between the two groups that this book never lags in interest. It is necessarily also the story of early LA and the early corruption in the police department, along with the efforts to make things right among the police. It is the story of the wars inside organized crime in LA, the murderous competition for illegal profit and power. This was before the era of the Miranda warning and other court decisons limiting what the police could do, but the public still cared about how the police operated and the police managed to get into trouble often with their tactics. At the same time, the public knew their cops were up against a vicious, corrupting element, and they wanted their police to win. The Gangster Squad, operating in this pressure cooker of criticism and cheering, fought for "small victories", trying to wear down the bosses of organized crime. Read the book and find out how it all ended. It is a whirlwind read and eye opening on the subject of law enforcement in American big cities fifty years ago.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Ruth Anderson VINE VOICE on December 27, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I adore film noir -- the shadow-drenched films of the 40s and 50s that brought to life a world inhabited by gangsters, femme fatales, and hard-boiled private eyes, double-crosses and shoot-outs, a murky cinematic world where the line between good and evil was more often than not blurred beyond recognition. The first time I heard of the upcoming film Gangster Squad was in the aftermath of the Aurora, CO theater shooting, when the trailer was pulled due to the fact that it contained scenes of a movie theater shoot-out (the sequence was subsequently cut and a new scene shot to take its place). I assumed the story was a fiction -- until I saw the trailer just over a week ago and absolutely fell in love with the look of the film. Generally speaking gangster pictures are a bit out of my viewing norm, but I am a total sucker for the look of the 40s and 50s and whatever else may be said about the upcoming film -- it has style in spades. When I learned that the film was based on the real-life exploits of LA-based gangster Mickey Cohen and the LAPD's secret "Gangster Squad," I knew I had to investigate the book that chronicling the LAPD's mid-century war on organized crime. And oh what a wild ride -- if nothing else Gangster Squad more than proves the old adage that the truth is stranger, and oft-times more compelling, than any fiction.

Journalist Paul Lieberman's 500-plus page account of the LAPD's Gangster Squad is a highly readable, page-turning account of the men whose shadowy crusade against the rise of organized crime in their city arguably changed the face of law enforcement forever. The Los Angeles of the early twentieth-century was a city on the cusp of great and profound change.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By MrGman on September 6, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I will not go into detail as so many other of the reviewers have done already. I too think it was a very well researched book about a time when police had a much freer hand than they do today. With 20 yrs law enforcement experience my self on the federal level I only wish we could have used some the tactics they used against the mob in L.A. back in those pre-Maranda days. I must say though as a history buff and one who reads almost all non-fictional history related books I felt this read much slower than I personally would have liked. This may just my feelings about the writing style and/or the way the story was told. It also really would have helped to have had some pictures as in most of the other books I have read which gives the reader a real feel for what it was like and the characters involved. I recently read a book that dealt solely with the what happened with Lincoln and Jefferson after Lincoln's assassination. Regarding Lincoln it described the movement and stops the "Death Train" took from Washington to Illinois. Now one wouldn't think that this would be the most interesting story in the world but maybe as I read all the new information I can on Lincoln I found it very interesting BUT there were tons of pictures about all of the movements and they really helped with what was going on. Words alone would not have been as effective. This book has lots of information and characters involved and it would have been nice to see at least some of them. Now I read the Kindle version and maybe the hardcover does have pictures which were left out of the Kindle version which has happened to me before but again some pictures would have helped. Overall though I would suggest this book as a good read especially if this is an overall topic or period that you are interested in.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Nolongerteaching on February 11, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had high expectations for this book but was extremely disappointed. I was put off by the author's writing style. For a professional reporter, the style was choppy, disjointed and extremely hard to follow. It was obvious that the author had a great deal he wanted to say but not everything needed to be included. He had obviously researched this story and had interviewed numerous people but unfortunately, it seemed like everything that was told to him was put in the book. It just became more and more confusing to read. There was little continuity between the chapters which made the book read more like an anthology of different and divergent crime stories rather than on coherent story.

As I said, I had high expectations but the book did not deliever.
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