From Publishers Weekly
In this look at the history of American gangsters, the editors nicely balance chapters on the history of organized crime starting with the criminal "golden age" of the 1920s with a collection of archival photos. The money-shots here are dozens of photos depicting dead mobsters and victims: inspired by the style of famous crime photographer Weegee (who receives his own chapter), the book graphically illustrates the gory side of crime through bloody photos ranging from cowboy criminals like the Dalton gang to mob boss Paul Castellano's shooting in 1985. But the book isn't all blood and guts. Shorter sections on the elements of the gangster life from cars to clothes are equally successful in depicting the extravagant mob lifestyle; a chapter illustrating the lavish home of legendary L.A. mobster Mickey Cohen is a terrific look at American post-war domesticity super-sized by mob money and aggrandizement. While the prose is occasionally boiled a little too hard and the "reminiscence" by Elmore Leonard is a reprint of a slight if interesting biographical essay published in Life in 1990, the book delivers the requsite vicarious thrills.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.