GOTHAM UNBOUND by James B. Jacobs


How New York City Was Liberated from the Clutches of Cosa Nostra
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A terse, dramatic volume that provides a definitive overview of how Cosa Nostra obtained a stranglehold on the infrastructure of New York City and held it for much of this century. Jacobs (Law/New York Univ.; Busting the Mob, not reviewed) and his co-authors (both lawyers in private practice) expose the Mob’s tactics in a clearly organized narrative. Six sections in Part I delineate the —mobbing up— of NYC (as the Mafia gained control of the Fulton Fish Market, JFK Airport, waste hauling, construction, the garment district, etc.); Part II contains corresponding chapters detailing how the forces of order managed to —liberate— the city. All chapters are loaded with a plethora of specific information regarding the shadowy mobsters of the —Five Families,— their internecine ties, and the cartels and —front— businesses they assembled at the expense of competitors. This attention to details, gleaned from both mainstream and highly obscure sources, is prodigious and makes a forceful, persuasive case for the authors— contention that the core of Mob activities was, in fact, —industrial racketeering.— Eschewing post-Godfather stereotypes of the Mafia as a nest of lovable yet violent —Goodfellas,— Jacobs et al. address such arcane subjects as the Mob’s decades-long stranglehold on NYC labor unions and the apparent —rationalizing effect— of its involvement on industry (it flourished with the tacit support of key business and political figures). Not until the 1980s did federal, state, and local law enforcement sustain success in a coordinated war on the Mob, aided by the controversial 1970 RICO statute and changes in surveillance laws. The tale concludes with the Giuliani era, in which stringent regulatory measures largely finished off the specter of —industrial racketeering.— Of equal interest to academics and lay enthusiasts, this serious yet highly readable book addresses Mafia reality more succinctly and clearly than any similar work in recent memory.

Pub Date: Sept. 7th, 1999
ISBN: 0-8147-4246-7
Page count: 328pp
Publisher: New York Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2000


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