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Another solid exposÉ of Mafia corruption by Demaris, author of The Green Felt Jungle and 11 other crime books. This time he focuses his investigative lens on Atlantic City, NJ, the most visited resort in America, a city of burnt-out dreams and easy vices. A c-note ago, Atlantic City was a peaceful oceanside retreat for well-to-do vacationers from New York and Philadelphia. But by the 1970's, business had declined and a booster shot was needed badly. Legalized gambling seemed the answer: revenues for the state, a sure. fire lure for 60 million potential customers. And--who could have thought otherwise?--a magnet for organized crime as well. Soon huge casinos dominated the skyline, 90% of the local businesses collapsed, and violent crime skyrocketed as a small army of hookers, con men, pickpockets and thugs marched on the Boardwalk. Mafia strongmen with strange nicknames like Little Pussy, Chicken Man and the Boot went to bloodletting excesses. Two godfathers--Angelo Bruno and Philip Testa--died in the war for a piece of the action. Demaris digs gamely through this avalanche of dirt, which covered politicians, police, and casino owners alike. A few familiar faces pop up: Frank Sinatra, who comes off as spoiled, crude, and abusive; Hugh Hefner, a diffident innocent; Donald Trump, shiny with self-congratulation. If the Mafia figures multiply so rapidly and behave so heinously that the reader soon loses track, a clear message nonetheless comes through: ""Gambling is a parasitic enterprise that thrives on the weaknesses of people. It leaves in its wake corruption, debasement, despair and the subversion of moral authority."" A powerful bit of aversion therapy; it's difficult to see how anyone could gamble for pleasure at Atlantic City--or any other Mafia town--after reading this grim report.

Pub Date: April 30th, 1986
Publisher: Bantam