Written on a Ford Foundation grant, this is likely the most complete picture of The Syndicate the general public will see for a long while. If anything, the book is over-researched, for certainly no one outside of a law enforcement agency could want to know so much about so many hoods. The Syndicate (which is coeval with but is not The Mafia) was originally a Jewish crime cartel centered in Cleveland. Like Manhattan's Mafia, it was born in the ghetto. Unlike the Mafia, its leaders are relatively unpublicized: its ""first but equal"" leader Moe Dalitz has little of the notoriety of Frank Costello and Vito Genovese, although he runs Las Vegas' Desert Inn among dozens of other enterprises. The Cleveland Syndicate with its ""silent"" leaders has developed over the decades since WWI from a terror and extortion protection group into its present ""respectability."" Its operations today are masked by a massive facade of interlocking businesses which shift capital from one to another subverting efforts of the Internal Revenue Service to define their tax status. Its first premise has always been the bribe is better than the bullet and it has allowed the Mafia to have the headlines while it developed silently...Frankly, Messick's richly detailed expose may be treading on toes that will give him a kick in the shins.