Top positive review
4 people found this helpful
Powerful book, extremely well written, David Durk inspiring!
on June 8, 2009
Powerfully written book by James Lardner that makes the film "Serpico" fall flat because the immense complexity of the story which was bigger than police corruption although Durk could not get the Knapp Commission to investigate corruption beyond the police and there was plenty. What is unique about this book is how much David loved the NYPD. The dept. often turned it's back on great talent, not just rebel rousers like Durk.
David Durk's father was an eye surgeon who felt compelled to do community doctoring in Harlem, often being robbed, so much so he started carrying his medical equipment in a paper bag. He never called the police. Davd joined the NYPD after graduating Amherst College and studying law at Columbia University where he met his future wife Arlene. Serpico and he inevitably meet and form an alliance although their paths are different and there was no doubt both had to worry for their safety but as most people know Serpico did take a bullet to the face and had to leave the country. There are a lot of grey tones filled with compassion in this book except for tolerating corruption but sometimes David even found gentle ways to discourage cops and ultimately liberate them by just doing the math for them and proving it wasn't worth it. David wanted to make change and to do so from within the system. There were honest police officers, very impressive people, some in senior positions that would literally go out on the street to work with Serpico and Durk. Capt. Paul Delise worked with David on surveilling Gigante which even involved David using the faculty room at NYU Law School which I particularly enjoyed including David having a conversation with a law professor that had me smiling. Capt. Delise grew up in the Bronx and his mother made a strong impression on him pointing out a cop that might help himself to a piece of fruit in the market. The depression was a big factor in him joining the NYPD and he remained an honest cop retiring a Deputy Chief and with the help of a beautiful undercover woman officer named Anne King, they did arrest Gigante. I can't put this book down but I do because I don't want to finish it. I am reading it now because I am so frustrated and angry with what feels like corruption in NYC politics so it is fascinating to read the NYC politics that were the landscape at the time. I am also in awe of an old man that approaches David for help because he loves his son so much and his son is not following his abilities but a drug dealer down the path of destruction. A civilian coming forward the way this man did was unbelievably brave, exhibited unbelievable love for his son, so for the officers that got it right and brave civilians like this loving Dad are a few examples of why I am very moved. Sad note is do to corruption and the way the dept. was run it took David going to the media yet again after the Knapp Commission to get the dept. to follow thru on the old man's lead and even than officers attempted to say the old man was a dealer and he was not. It turned out to be a big win but too late to save the heroic old man's son. The politics at city hall are a back drop that fascinates and so much stated than is true now except it things have gotten far worse. There is even the same anger about spending a fortune to build Yankee Stadium in contrast to the lack of support the city gave the NYPD, true and even more so now but I would add teachers, after school programs. etc. The stories in this book are so complicated and intense especially when he goes to work at City Hall and again right now there are SLA investigations going on, Morgenthau let off a powerful Goldman Sachs exec who was confused about the need to pay taxes on art he shipped, my point is a lot of the same is still going on but much less is the NYPD which may be it's smallest in number ever with NYC's population the highest although the NYPD receives little support from mayor Bloomberg. This book was a powerful read and there is so much I could talk about like even a gutsy dynamic Det. Lanzano who left because as usual at the time the NYPD did not know how to keep it's talent and he and his wife were and are superstars who had six children of their own but were also "shelter parents" who took in abused and disturbed children refusing to allow a girl with cerebral palsy to be institutionalized in a notorious institution but kept her as their own child and got her special ed where miracalously she learne dot communicate with a visual-identification device. No you are not reading a book called "Serpico". You get there were always honest cops that cared deeply and you understood the dept. was afraid of David Durk because he ran to the press but if he didn't nothing would have changed. Even The French Connection was a much bigger story and this book is worth the read. I have admiration for David Durk and his family. James Lardner is such an excellent writer I have to remind myself he is the author and this is not an autobiography...I ask "Is Democracy for Sale?" Jack Newfield and Wayne Barrett wrote is" City Hall for sale?" re: Koch as "campaign contributors got tax abatements and zoning changes to block the heavens" page 317 Jim Breslin quote a stand out as well.