THE LUCIANO PROJECT: The Secret Wartime Collaboration of the Mafia and the U.S. Navy by Rodney Campbell

THE LUCIANO PROJECT: The Secret Wartime Collaboration of the Mafia and the U.S. Navy

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Mafia-State Department collaboration during WW II has often been mentioned but rarely explored. Here Campbell, an editorial assistant to Nelson Rockefeller, unearths a 1954 report by a New York State Commissioner to reconstruct the underworld's role in fighting fascism. Naval intelligence agent Charles Haffenden mobilized mobsters like Joe ""Socks"" Lanza and superpimp Lucky Luciano to protect the New York port and gather intelligence for Allied landings in Sicily. Agents are deployed as fishermen, packers, bartenders, and Harlem numbers runners, but the results are anticlimactic: the main effect seems to have been to run longshore unionist Harry Bridges out of town and shadow a septuagenarian whorehouse client on the mistaken tip that he was a US Senator. No Nazi spies or saboteurs were found, and the Sicilian reconnaissance was only slightly more rewarding. As for the Mafia, Luciano had not been promised any deals, according to Campbell, but in 1945 he was pardoned by Governor Thomas Dewey, who as state's attorney had sent him up for 30 to 50 years in 1936. Good late-show stuff, but its purpose and timing remain a bit of a puzzlement.

Pub Date: Nov. 14th, 1977
Publisher: McGraw-Hill