ACCARDO: The Genuine Godfather by

ACCARDO: The Genuine Godfather

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A well-padded but quite readable history of Tony Accardo, the gangster who got his start as A1 Capone's bodyguard and rose to rule over the Chicago mob until his death of natural causes in 1992. Roemer (The Enforcer, 1994, etc.), a 30-year FBI man who was senior agent of the Organized Crime Squad, admits to a ""grudging respect"" for Accardo, who ""did his job with some class"" and, in Chicago at least, kept ""the mob away from families and from the drug trade."" Capone nicknamed his young henchman ""Joe Batters"" after he clubbed two rivals to death with baseball bat. A prot‚g‚ of the notorious Machine Gun Jack McGurn, Accardo, according to Roemer, was with McGurn at the St. Valentine's Day Massacre in 1928. He bases that contention and a lot of his information on the FBI wiretaps and ""bugs"" on organized crime figures in the 1950s and 1960s. After Capone went to prison in 1931 and following the 1943 suicide of Frank Nitti and the indictment for extortion of several gangland leaders, Accardo assumed control of the so-called Chicago Outfit. Except for his infamous nontestimony at the 1950 Kefauver hearings, Accardo kept a fairly low profile. He methodically expanded mob operations into the black ghettos of his city and took over rackets and casinos in Florida and Las Vegas. In 1957, having ""become the very best ever"" and achieving ""everything a mob boss could accomplish,"" Accardo handed over the day-to-day supervision of gang activities to flashy Sam Giancana. Roemer believes that Accardo remained the final authority on all major business and personnel decisions--including ""contracts""--until his dying day. A big, sprawled-out account that serves more as anecdotal history of organized crime than it does as biography.

Pub Date: Oct. 24th, 1995
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Donald Fine