A riveting memoir of life inside the murderous world of Mafia chieftain Santo Trafficante and Teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa, by their personal lawyer (and longtime New York Times reporter Raab)—filled with chilling, credible revelations of mob involvement in the murders of President Kennedy and Hoffa.
Ragano started practice as the protégé of a prominent Tampa criminal defense attorney, Pat Whittaker. Soon, he ingratiated himself with Trafficante, Whittaker's principal client, then became Trafficante's full-time lawyer, defending the mob boss and his associates in occasional criminal cases, tweaking the Florida authorities, and passing time in the Mafioso's Havana gambling clubs. Arrested by Castro's men in 1959, Trafficante was saved from almost certain execution by the lawyer's intervention, and by 1961, Trafficante had brought Ragano into contact with Jimmy Hoffa, hoping that Ragano's influence would induce Hoffa to make loans to the mob from the Teamsters' pension funds. In 1963, Hoffa, hard pressed by Bobby Kennedy's "Get Hoffa'' squad, asked Ragano to tell Trafficante and New Orleans boss Carlos Marcello to kill John Kennedy. Ragano relayed the message, and, after the union boss's five-year prison term for jury tampering, he tried in vain to persuade Hoffa not to reenter union activities until Hoffa's 1975 disappearance. Ragano writes that in a 1987 conversation, Trafficante confirmed to Ragano that he was privy to CIA contracts to kill Castro, that he and Marcello had conspired to kill Kennedy and that mobsters at the behest of Hoffa's successor, Ed Fitzsimmons, murdered Hoffa. Ragano's prominence as a lawyer ended with convictions for tax evasion, disbarment, a brief reinstatement as an attorney, and another conviction for tax violations. Ragano is presently serving a one-year term.
An insider's impossible-to-put-down account of life within the "Honorable Society.''
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").