An eye-opening history of the controversial Federal Witness Protection Program, from WITSEC founder Shur and award-winning journalist Earley (Circumstantial Evidence: Death, Life, and Justice, 1995, etc.).
Shur began writing his memoirs about the same time that Earley started researching the program for his own book, and after a series of interviews they decided to combine their knowledge and talents. This proves to be an inspired pairing as they chronicle WITSEC’s development and its role in defeating American and international organized crime. Shur, son of a New York City dress manufacturer, developed an early antipathy toward organized crime as he witnessed his father pay off mobsters to stay in business. After earning a law degree, he answered Robert Kennedy’s call for energetic young lawyers to hunt down mobsters for the Justice Department’s Organized Crime and Racketeering Section. Shur’s enthusiastic determination to prosecute these criminals earned quick recognition, but it also led him to realize that unless the government established some way to protect mob witnesses from violent retribution, organized crime would continue to thrive. From this awareness, he conceived WITSEC, and organized crime in America began to crumble. As the mob lost its influence, Shur guided WITSEC into equally successful battles against international drug cartels. Despite the program’s success, its founder became a figure of controversy as lifelong professional criminals used their new identities to establish crime rings in the unsuspecting communities where they had been relocated. The third-person account of Shur’s activities and WITSEC’s history is supplemented by a protected witness’s 30-page first-person narrative, an intimate portrait of what it’s like to be suddenly placed in the program.
A fast-paced, exciting text that rings with the authenticity to which other crime books aspire.