Saturday, April 21, 2012

April 2012 Issue of Informer


April 2012 Contents
Editorial

The average Mafia aficionado likely feels that he or she already knows a great deal about New York gangland chieftain Charlie "Lucky" Luciano. Just about everyone knows, for example, that Luciano survived being taken "for a ride" by his rivals, that he was nicknamed "Lucky" as a result of that episode and that he single-handledly revolutionized organized crime in the United States. Just about everyone knows those things; unfortunately none are true. The problem is that much of what is generally believed about the 1930s-era crime boss can be traced to fictional works and a single, terribly suspect Luciano biography.

In this issue, Informer takes a close look at Salvatore Lucania, a.k.a. Charlie Luciano, intending to separate fact from fiction and to establish the real-world details of his life and criminal career. A great deal of the material written about Luciano and his associates since the mid-1970s rests upon an insecure foundation: The Last Testament of Lucky Luciano by Martin Gosch and Richard Hammer.

Though often criticized by historians as the product of Gosch's imagination, The Last Testament has been widely (and inexplicably) accepted as a near-autobiographical telling of Luciano's life story. Quotes from the work have appeared in books about Luciano and his ally Meyer Lansky. Even some who have been vocally critical of Last Testament's contents and Gosch's methods have found it impossible to resist borrowing tales from the book for their own works.

In our featured article, historian Richard Warner explores The Last Testament and the claims of its authors. He compares its contents to the historical record in order to deliver what should be "The Last Word on The Last Testament" (preview).

Thomas Hunt follows up with a Luciano lifetime chronology. While the Gosch-Hammer controversy is noted, "Year-by-year: Charlie Lucky's life" is devoid of Last Testament influence (preview).

Also in this issue, we present the second installment of “Gunmen of the Castellammarese War,” as historians Lennert van ‘t Riet, David Critchley and Steve Turner tell the story of Steve Rannelli (preview); Edmond Valin identifies underworld informants from the Philly Mob (preview); Bill Feather provides an extensive membership chart for the post-Luciano Genovese Crime Family of New York (preview); Richard Warner recommends books on Al Capone (preview); and Patrick Downey discusses gangsters who were sent to watery graves (preview).

One hundred pages. Published April 20, 2012.

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Last Word on 'Last Testament'


April 2012 Contents
Feature Article

The Last Word on 
'The Last Testament'
By Richard N. Warner

"In 1975 the publishing house of Little, Brown and Company released The Last Testament of Lucky Luciano, penned by movie producer Martin A. Gosch and former New York Times journalist and author Richard Hammer. The book became a near-bestseller, and a paperback edition soon was published by Dell....
"Although Last Testament was positively received by the public, it came under heavy fire by journalists who had years specializing in organized crime research. The first negative criticism was offered by New York Times organized crime specialist Nicholas Gage. It was followed by a scathing review from former New York Post writer Tony Scaduto. The harshest criticism, however, came from an official government source – the Federal Bureau of Investigation..."

Twenty-nine and a half pages
Including twelve images and four and a half pages of notes.

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Year-by-year: Charlie Lucky's Life


April 2012 Contents
Feature Article

Year-by-year: 
Charlie Lucky's Life
By Thomas Hunt

"[1926:] Six days after the shooting, Levy and Haffman tell police they know who Levy’s attackers were. Twenty police detectives are sent to round up the men they identify. The following day, Lucania is charged with felonious assault. Also charged are John T. 'Legs' Diamond of the Hotel Empire, his brother Eddie Diamond of the Penn Post Hotel and James Walsh of 345 West Seventieth Street. The suspects are held in connection with the Levy shooting and also questioned about the December 11 incident at Broadway and Fiftieth Street.
"When two of the suspects are brought to Levy’s hotel room for identification, the wounded insurance broker says, 'There’s some mistake. These aren’t the men.' On December 29, Lucania, the Diamond brothers and Walsh are discharged in magistrate’s court."

Twenty-seven and a half pages
Including twenty-four images and five pages of notes.

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Gunmen of the Castellammarese War - Part 2


April 2012 Contents
Feature Article 
Second in a Series

Gunmen of the Castellammarese War, Part Two

A Series of Serious Errors: 
The Underworld Career of Steve Rannelli

By Lennert van`t Riet, David Critchley and Steve Turner.

"While not as mysterious an identity to the public as Sebastiano 'Buster from Chicago' Domingo, Stefano Rannelli was strategically more important to the outcome of the Castellammarese War. His story also gives us insights into the personal life of a Mafia killer during the conflict..."

Twelve and a half pages
Including seven images and three pages of notes.

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Identifying Underworld Informants


April 2012 Contents
Column

Identifying Underworld Informants:
Two 'Made' Members Provided
the FBI with Info on Philly Mob

By Edmond Valin

"...In Philadelphia, the FBI managed to persuade two inducted Mafia members to share confidential information. Their disclosures provided the foundation for the Bureau’s understanding of the Philly Mob. Although FBI documents are carefully crafted to protect the identities of informants, enough clues were left in the documents to make identification of the two Philadelphia informants possible."

Four pages
Including one image and one page of notes.

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Genovese Mafia Chart


April 2012 Contents
Mafia Membership Chart

Genovese Mafia Membership Chart

Bill Feather provides background information on more than 300 members of the Genovese Crime Family active in the 1950s-1960s era.

Seven pages.

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DGIS: Watery Gangland Graves


April 2012 Contents
Column

Dead Guys in Suits:
Some Gangland Victims
Subjected to Soggy Sendoffs

By Patrick Downey

"In the previous Dead Guys in Suits offering, we discussed those unfortunate gangsters who were sent off with a Fahrenheit-451 salute. In this issue, we will take a look at some who were disposed of by use of one of the other elements, water..."

Two and a half pages.

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The Warner Files: Capone Reading List

April 2012 Contents
Column

The Warner Files: 
A Short Reading List for Capone Enthusiasts

By Richard N. Warner

 "Not too long ago in an online Mafia discussion forum, a bunch of us spoke about recommending certain organized crime history books for beginning researchers. Definitely a good idea. So to get things started in this edition of The Warner Files I'm going to throw out some of my recommended titles..."

Two pages.

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A Look Back

April 2012 Contents
Column 

A Look Back 
Historical entries from 100 years ago, 75 years ago, 50 years ago, 25 years ago and 10 years ago.

One and a half pages. 

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