This tired tale promises details of former New York Mayor William O'Dwyer's connection with the Mob. But surviving aides...

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PUBLIC ENEMIES: The Mayor, The Mob, and The Crime That Was

This tired tale promises details of former New York Mayor William O'Dwyer's connection with the Mob. But surviving aides refused to talk to George Walsh (Jimmy Walker's biographer) and all the mobsters except Lansky are dead, so Walsh based his investigation on Kefauver Committee reports, books, and periodicals--and the result is 30-year-old speculation. For example, after temporary magistrate O'Dwyer asked one Democratic leader to put in a good word with another top Democrat (who was a friend of Joe Adonis!), his magistrate's job became permanent. Otherwise, we get O'Dwyer's biography interspersed with familiar gangster tales: Costello's bootlegging and gambling, Lucky Luciano, and so on. Walsh tries to tie O'Dwyer to the Mob through Tammany but the result is still guilt by association--as in the presence of some Tammany officials in Costello's apartment during a 1942 visit by O'Dwyer, who said he was investigating Air Force fraud. (Walsh notes that the Kefauver Committee questioned both men about the meeting, with the ""implication"" that O'Dwyer had ""paid a ritual call"" to win Costello's mayoral backing.) Then there is the aborted prosecution of Albert Anastasia when O'Dwyer was Brooklyn DA, but Walsh cannot prove he was pressured to drop the case, so he concludes that O'Dwyer ""may have been supported by the syndicate."" Finally, Walsh admits that the Kefauver Committee charges were ""implied"" and ""circumstantial,"" and that O'Dwyer's announced resignation from the Mayoralty for health reasons was largely true. There is no reason presented here, in short, to dispute the New York Times conclusion that O'Dwyer ""was victimized by men he had trusted.

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 1980

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1980