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Best of Howard Schwartz

Gaming Guru

 

Two new titles offer mob, mafia buffs super references

20 December 2007

Yes, there are people out there who just love books about the mob -- and for a variety of reasons. Perhaps a close or distant relative was "connected" sometime back or a neighbor had a friend who knew someone, or somebody is just a collector of names, facts, places and events. Well, two unique titles have hit the shelves of the Gambler's Book Shop that should appeal to all mob-book lovers. They are The Complete Public Enemy Almanac by William Helmer and Rick Mattix (669 pages, paperbound, $22.95) and Mafia: The Government's Secret File on Organized Crime (843 pages, hard bound, $34.95).

The Complete Public Enemy Almanac covers the people, places and events of "the gangster and outlaw era: 1920 to 1940" and it is packed with photos, dates, rare newspaper reproductions, maps and locations of famous crimes and a detailed index to find people and places. With information about what happened day by day, week by week during the Depression Era for example and more than 40 pages of reference sources makes this quite useful for anyone writing a book, screenplay or planning a documentary. John Dillinger, Al Capone, the big raids, changes in state and federal laws, new technology involving fingerprints, bulletproof vehicles, a fascinating section on the heyday and end of gambling in Hot Springs, Arkansas -- they are all here in a way that few books have covered them in detail under one title.

One of the most unusual Mafia-related books I've seen in more than 25 years as a reviewer of gambling and Mob-related books is simply called Mafia. The foreword of the book is by Sam Giancana, identified in another book (Double Deal) as the godson and namesake of Sam (Momo) Giancana, the now-deceased Chicago Mafia boss.

Somehow, and the explanation is not clear in this book, someone obtained from the Treasury Department, original crime files (even mug shots) and reproduced them. They document, aliases, detailed descriptions including date and place of birth (if known), where they lived and in many cases exact addresses plus places they "frequented", among other facts. They include their wives' names, father's name, children, the subject's criminal associates, the individual's criminal history including arrests and for what crime, the name of their business, whether legitimate or not is not indicated and their "modus operandi" (what they specialized in and who else they were related to or connected with).

Interestingly, there are some portions blacked out, somewhat the way you'd see if the document were top secret. One wonders why. Clearly most of the subjects are now deceased, so the information can do no harm.

Howard Schwartz
Howard Schwartz, the "librarian for gamblers," was the marketing director for Gambler's Book Club in Las Vegas, a position he held from 1979 to 2010, when he retired. Author of hundreds of articles on gambling, his weekly book reviews appear in numerous publications throughout the gaming industry.

Howard Schwartz Websites:

www.gamblersbook.com
Howard Schwartz
Howard Schwartz, the "librarian for gamblers," was the marketing director for Gambler's Book Club in Las Vegas, a position he held from 1979 to 2010, when he retired. Author of hundreds of articles on gambling, his weekly book reviews appear in numerous publications throughout the gaming industry.

Howard Schwartz Websites:

www.gamblersbook.com