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Deep Water: Joseph P. Macheca and the Birth of the American Mafia Paperback – August 18, 2010
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About the Author
Thomas Hunt publishes Informer, a quarterly journal on the history of crime and law enforcement (informer-journal.blogspot.com). He also publishes the American Mafia history website (www.onewal.com), the MobNews current events blog (mob-news.blogspot.com), and a Deep Water blog (jpmacheca.blogspot.com). He contributed to the Australian-published reference book, Mafia: The Necessary Reference to Organized Crime (Millennium House, 2009). Several of his articles were published in the On the Spot crime history journal. He served as Managing Editor of the Putnam County (NY) Courier, the Bethel (CT) Beacon and the Pawling (NY) News-Chronicle; Assistant Editor of the New Milford (CT) Times and of Aviation Digest magazine; and Publisher and Editor of the Danbury (CT) Weekly Tribune. He holds a bachelor's degree in history and journalism. Born in the Bronx, NY, he lives with his wife and their three children in New Milford, CT. Martha Macheca Sheldon, descendant of the Macheca line, is an authority on her family history. Discovering and telling J.P.'s life story has been her obsession since first learning "the family secret" over a decade ago. She has assembled a network of Machecas determined to unearth long-buried family truths. Graduating as a daughter of the Sacred Heart, she majored in the Arts at Washington University. There she met her late husband, Stephen, a cartoonist and painter. They lived for a time in Los Angeles, where they produced television commercials for Gardner Advertising. In between commercials, Sheldon worked for an interior design company. She volunteered at a major hospital, serving as Director of Public Relations and Director of Volunteer Patient Representatives on the auxiliary board. She helped create the guidelines and job description for the Patient Advocacy Representative Program. Sheldon was also a member of the hospital's Risk Management Board. She lives with her daughter in St. Louis, Missouri.
Top customer reviews
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My only complaint on the book… and this is purely my preference… is that it gets overly obsessed with genealogy, names, and detailed geography of the city.
What I mean by that is that it will very often deviate from a story line in order to not only list all names involved, but the details of their family life, work or family history… sometimes even of (in my opinion) inconsequential characters. Why do I need the entire family and work history of one witness that never appears in the book again? This along with overly detailed descriptions of streets and other areas that an uninformed reader might not know made the book very distracting from the direct story that was being addressed. Had they provided a map with all those street names I still would have had to stop reading constantly to get a complete picture as to where they were referring.
Perhaps I am a product of an easily distracted generation; or perhaps it's just my overall distaste for reading name upon name upon name (of people and streets that I don't know intimately), but it was highly distracting and pulled me out of the overall picture that was being painted. I consider Tolkien to be extremely guilty of this too… yet many people love his writing. I simply choose to overlook that aspect of his writing. Still I find it annoying and unnecessary to the story telling.
For me the book would have been a more pleasant and smooth read if it was not so peppered with that. I can fully appreciate the amount of research done - as evidence in the bibliography - but the book would have gotten it's point across just fine without the added distractions.
Again… it's just a personal preference. I still believe it's a well done and thorough book and I am glad that I bought it and took the time to read it.
In Deep Water, Hennessy's assassination and the mass slaying of his suspected killers is revisited from the perspective of J.P. Macheca, a fruit-shipping merchant with intricate ties to the city's corrupt Democratic ring and evolving American Mafia. Legend has credited Macheca with being the earliest Mafia `godfather'. Authors Thomas Hunt and Martha Sheldon make a convincing argument for the theory that the lynching of Macheca and ten of his alleged co-conspirators was not a random and rabid act of mob retribution for Hennessey's death, but rather a spectacular execution whose victims had been chosen well in advance.
The book is also an engrossing look at Louisiana history during the Civil War / Reconstruction period. J.P. Macheca fought for the Confederacy, and during the postwar years, he behaved less honourably by moving in Sicilian underworld circles and instigating vicious attacks on African Americans. His fortunes declined when he did not soften his rougher instincts to stay in tune with the gentrification of the times. His export business failed, his old friends and allies abandoned him, and the final stop in his downward spiral was a bullet in the skull.