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A racial Subtext to another American History Story,
This review is from: Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires (Paperback)
Told through the eyes of a lowly Third grade dropout, Tony Accetturo, who would eventually rise from being a mafia foot solider to a rich and powerful "made man" -- that is before being caught and then turned into a government protected witness -- this is the story of how the Mafia got its start, managed to survive against the odds, and was eventually able to gain a criminal stranglehold on the nation before being overtaken by the FBI, treachery from within its own ranks, and sent into decline.
The main line of the story is well known to any red-blooded American mafia buff. But what is new and was unknown until this book is the historical context of how the Mafia got its foothold in America. As is true of almost everything in American history, some form of racism eventually figures prominently into the subtext of every national story. On that score, this story is no different.
At the turn of the 20th Century, Italians, Jews and Irishmen were not yet considered "to be white" and thus were relegated to the unlivable slums of major U.S. cities as sub-humans. There they were seen much as blacks are seen today: as a menace to good white Anglo-Saxon American values and society. And as a result, by one legal way or another, the "good white Anglo-Saxons" had intended to use the law to purge them from American society -- so that the nation would be cleansed of their social diseases.
One of the little known reasons for Prohibition introduced by the 18th Amendment (the Volstead Act) was to deny these ethnic sub-humans steady access to alcohol. Later, a similar rationale would be used against blacks to ban drugs such as cocaine, marijuana and opium, which for good Anglo-Saxons, were all used as medication, elixirs and additions to recreational beverages such as Coke Cola. But in the hands of sub-human blacks, they would be used to incite the rape of white women, still even today, the worse of imaginable crimes in the U.S.
Coupled with the 1924 National Origins Act, designed to stem the flow of Italians fleeing from Mussolini's crackdown on them in Sicily, U.S. racist reactions had exactly the opposite effects than what was intended. Due mostly to corrupt law enforcement, the targeted ethnic gangs, turned the laws devised against them to their own uses: such as to bribe the police and set up lucrative bootlegging businesses based on supplying illegal alcohol to American citizens. And as a result, the rest is history: they thrived into the present era.
The heads of the "Five Families" came in well under the existing immigration radar to effectively become a "surrogate state" in the New York metropolitan area, brazenly dominating vital businesses and imposing invisible taxes on almost every product and service used in New York City. The collective goal of the five families was to pillage the nation's richest cities and regions. Together, they came very close to doing just that. They became, effectively an "in-place" alternative government, violently corrupting our society and government at every level. This is the unvarnished story, told in an easy to read prose, without sentimentality and with great force. Easily five stars.