- Series: Ohio
- Hardcover: 254 pages
- Publisher: Next Hat Pr; Revised edition (September 1, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0966250885
- ISBN-13: 978-0966250886
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 51 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,929,092 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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To Kill the Irishman: The War That Crippled the Mafia (Ohio) Hardcover – September 1, 2001
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Must reading for anyone interested in ... organized crime ... more dramatic than anything to ever come out of Hollywood. -- Midwest Book Reviews, 1998
From the Inside Flap
For decades, Americans have had a fascination with the Mafia. We have paid the box offices generously to be entertained by films like The Godfather, Goodfellas, Casino and Donnie Brasco. Likewise, millions have been spent in bookstores on titles like Boss of Bosses, Doublecross, The Last Mafioso, Underboss and the numerous John Gotti stories.
It started in the fifties, when mob soldier Joseph Valachi broke the blood oath of omerta which swears Mafia members to secrecy, violations being punishable by death. The term Mafia became a household word. Higher ranking mob turncoats like Jimmy "Weasel" Fratianno, Angelo "Big Ange" Lonardo and Sammy "the Bull" Gravano would follow.
In years to come we would learn of the Mafia's influence in labor unions, gambling, political corruption, narcotics, major airports, big city docks, legitimate business and industry and even the entertainment mecca of Las Vegas. With hard-to-ignore evidence, there would be shocking allegations that the Mafia had collaborated with the Central Intelligence Agency in "Operation Mongoose," the plot to assassinate Cuban Communist leader Fidel Castro. It is even believed by many that the Mafia helped engineer the rise of John F. Kennedy to President of the United States, then was responsible for the assassination of he and his brother Senator Robert Kennedy, and actress Marilyn Monroe.
In the seventies and eighties, the government began winning more of their battles with the Mafia. New anti-racketeering legislation and technology, coupled with tougher drug laws, undercover operations, unprecedented inter-agency cooperation and WITSEC, the federal witness protection program were effective weapons. Attrition of old-school Mafioso made the timing good. The young replacements were not the jail-stint-hardened men that their fathers, uncles and neighborhood heroes were. As a result of all this, whole Mafia hierarchies were dismantled in cities like Milwaukee, Cleveland, Kansas City and Los Angeles. Top New York mob dons, like Tony Salerno and John Gotti were, convicted and imprisoned for life.
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Through the author's mostly objective journalistic style of writing, the reader will get a very different picture of Cleveland, Ohio than the one most people are familiar with today.
However, the narrative is primarily history, not drama; If you're used to reading crime novels, you may or may not want to spend the time with this one.
The backdrop is as follows: In the fifties, sixties and seventies, organized labor was much more of a force than it is today. With the opening of the St. Lawrence seaway in the early 1960's came a new era of Cleveland as an expanded Great Lakes port, and Longshoremen to unload cargo were in fairly high demand. Eventually, this would set the stage for the emergence of Cleveland Irish Catholic Danny Greene as a local labor leader.
In the first chapters, Greene's youth is described briefly, as is a stint in the Marine Corps, an early failed marriage and a brief career with a railroad. Eventually, Greene made it into the Longshoreman's Union, where he became a local labor leader.
However, Greene's days as the president of the Longshoreman's Union's local chapter were numbered, and he was eventually ousted. What follows then, is a series of partnerships and schemes that were mostly Greene's designs to acquire money, recognition and power... In part, by starting a war with La Cosa Nostra.
Who would think that would be a good idea? All of you who think so, hold up a hand. It doesn't take much of a genius to figure out that Greene had some sort of death wish. Either that, or he was on some vainglorious crusade, or both.
All of that aside, the Danny Greene that Rick Porello attempts to illustrate is one of those individuals you might meet from time to time. Energetic, charismatic, and dynamic, Danny Greene was all of them. Simply put, people who were looking for leadership would follow him. And that's what makes "To Kill The Irishman" such an interesting story: The personalities involved.
If you're from Cleveland or grew up in the greater metropolitan area, "To kill the Irishman" will probably jar some old memories of neighborhoods and personalities. "Wow! That's really what was going on...?," would probably be a common reaction to many of the situations and incidents described in this book.
As two examples, Porello describes the planned assassination of Dennis Kucinich and the acquittal of James Traficant on charges of bribery to illustrate the ripple effect of racketeering and organized crime in the Northeastern Ohio area.
Without getting into grammar and punctuation mistakes, I will say that at times, Porello could have used a better editor. Also, it was difficult to follow what was happening due to too many names being injected into the mix. However, Porello still does a great job of pulling everything together. As a historic record, the book works.
Obviously, "To kill the Irishman" isn't flawless. However, if you're interested in the activities of organized crime in northeastern Ohio, this book will probably work for you.