Top positive review
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on March 17, 2015
Gus Russo's Supermob is a meticulously researched, well-crafted piece of non-fiction that fascinatingly binds together history, politics, show business, and modern business banking schemes with the Outfit, the Chicago mob that drew indelible images on American culture as we know it.
Russo centers his book around Sidney Korhsak, the "Fixer," the man who could settle any dispute because you didn't want to become indebted to those he represented. Korshak, known by absolutely anyone of note in Hollywood, Las Vegas, Chicago and Washington, D.C., was the primary union boss—for all intents and purposes—for every union there was, as all were controlled by the Mob in mid-twentieth century America. Korshak was also the life-long best friend of MCA head Lew Wasserman, the last mogul, the man who virtually ran show business. And Wasserman was a life-long friend of Ronald Reagan. (Enough said.) Las Vegas, started by the Chicago Outfit, was basically two things to the mob: unions and the illegal skim from the casinos. Korshak oversaw it all.
Korshak was probably the shrewdest man who ever lived. He knew how to get things done in his world, but he was also smart enough to know that his life would go a lot smoother if he kept in the background, as anonymous as he could make himself. A lawyer who never kept notes who was on the phone if not having a meeting with someone. Even Hollywood protected him. When at a party, if someone innocently took a picture that contained even part of him in the background, that person would be met with a chorus of "You can't take a picture of Sidney"s. There was not a star of any note who didn't know him. Those who didn't, certainly knew of him.
Korshak's wide frame of reference also made him virtually untouchable to Federal authorities. All inquiries into his business dealings by government agencies were spiked when reviewed in Washington. How do you go after someone who knows where all the bodies are buried, both literally and figuratively?
Russo's investigative research here is extremely deep. There are so many players involved it's hard to keep them straight. To me, more pictures would have helped. And this book is not running some kind of anti-Jewish bias as some—like The New York Times—have contended. Such claims are ridiculous. Reviews like that go in with their own agenda, written before the book is even read. Russo presents the facts as he finds them, giving no group any kind of pass or blame that begins or ends with their ethnicity.
It's a competitive world. And these people banded together to increase their odds of success in it. But as Balzac said—and Russo quotes—"Behind every great fortune is a crime." Gus Russo's Supermob is full of them: great fortunes and great crimes.