Open City: True Story of the KC Crime Family 1900-1950 Kindle Edition
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The author deserves credit for attempting to trace the evolution of organized crime to the region's very early history and for spending time on the mysterious Nick Gentile, whose memoirs provide glimpses of early Mafia history in the U.S. This sort of thing was lacking in Frank Hayde's otherwise excellent "The Mafia and the Machine." But Ouseley does not weave the early history into a coherent narrative. Criminal activity in the early 1900s is presented as isolated incidents. The author fails to find causal links or common themes and so does not justify the inclusion of the material in his book.
The writing throughout is not up to par. There are many examples of poor structure and countless typos, which distract the reader and erode confidence in the author. (The reader cannot make it through the Table of Contents before encountering an error.) There are also a few factual errors in discussions of organized crime history beyond the confines of Kansas City.
Most disturbing for crime historians is the book's tiny and very general bibliography. It isn't possible that Ouseley wrote this book based upon the presented sources alone. His refusal to document his findings makes the original material within the book's covers virtually useless to historians.
Another glaring problem with Open City is the scope of the book. Ouseley, a federal agent who investigated organized crime in the region, certainly had access to abundant information on the KC Mob in more recent years. His decision to focus on the 1900-1950 period is a curious one. Perhaps Ouseley intends this book to be Volume 1 of a continuing history.
A very interesting and education read.