PositiveLibrary JournalMachell intersperses his gripping account with Jackley’s journal entries and manifestos, which offer prescient predictions about social and economic issues ... Machell is sympathetic, detailing his subject’s difficult childhood—raised by a mother with schizophrenia and a domineering father, Jackley struggled to make friends, and his Asperger’s syndrome went undiagnosed for years. However, the author stresses that neither these challenges nor Jackley’s noble motivations excuse his violence ... With nuance and sensitivity, Machell has profiled a young man who, like a canary in a coal mine, offered warnings about impending financial, political, and ecological reckonings.
PositiveLibrary JournalCannell expertly interweaves stories of Reles and other gangsters with those of the police, prosecutors, and even Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, whose campaign promises included dismantling Murder, Inc. and prosecuting Reles and company. Reles was responsible for the shockingly cruel deaths of upward of 50 people, described in vivid detail by Cannell. Though well researched, the book suffers at times from an overuse of adjectives, perhaps mimicking the pulp true crime fashionable in the era of Murder, Inc. While it is Italian American gangsters who are most remembered today, Cannell reminds readers of an era when many other first-generation immigrants of different ethnic backgrounds found success in the underworld. His narrative serves as a who’s who of prewar Jewish assassins, although the work leans more toward titillation than social anthropology. Cannell also examines the mystery of Reles’s death, which would have long-term consequences for the district attorney who convinced Reles to turn state’s witness ... Will resonate with fans of the true crime genre, and mob and crime history.
Doug J. Swanson
RaveLibrary JournalSwanson is adept at holding readers’ interest in a sweeping narrative, all the while allowing a nuanced understanding of these myths. The book loses some momentum in the final chapters in telling 20th-century history; by then the myths were ingrained in public imagination ... In an era in which some desire a return to a perceived greatness, books like this remind us greatness is often reliant on the selective memory of storytellers.
RaveThe Library JournalThough Bowden...notes that crime stories serve to titillate, he proves that the genre is more than voyeuristic thrills. The six pieces found here, taken from over the course of the author’s career as a crime reporter, are uncomfortably thrilling—as good crime writing should be—but they contain insights into our often sexist and racist society, the criminal justice system, and who gets the privilege of having their stories told and believed ... This true crime master expands the limits of the genre, digging to find answers and revealing that even the most horrific crimes are often linked to a larger story about America.
RaveLibrary JournalCohen doesn’t necessarily defend urban renewal, instead using Logue’s story to provide insight behind the policies ... One of America’s most controversial policies as seen through the career of one of its most outspoken advocates; an essential read.
William D. Cohan
RaveLibrary JournalCohan is adept at relating how a combination of family background and attending one of the most prestigious prep schools in the country helped shape the lives of these four men ... Cohan is a masterful biographer, even if the occasional slip into armchair cultural anthropologist misses the mark. His detailed research spans newspaper accounts and school records to weave a full narrative of privilege and tragedy.