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The Black Hand : The Epic War Between a Brilliant Detective and the Deadliest Secret Society in American History
by Stephan Talty


Overview - The gripping true story of the origins of the mafia in America--and the brilliant Italian-born detective who gave his life to stop it

*Soon to be a major motion picture starring Leonardo DiCaprio*

Beginning in the summer of 1903, an insidious crime wave filled New York City, and then the entire country, with fear.
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More About The Black Hand by Stephan Talty
 
 
 
Overview
The gripping true story of the origins of the mafia in America--and the brilliant Italian-born detective who gave his life to stop it

*Soon to be a major motion picture starring Leonardo DiCaprio*

Beginning in the summer of 1903, an insidious crime wave filled New York City, and then the entire country, with fear. The children of Italian immigrants were kidnapped, and dozens of innocent victims were gunned down. Bombs tore apart tenement buildings. Judges, senators, Rockefellers, and society matrons were threatened with gruesome deaths. The perpetrators seemed both omnipresent and invisible. Their only calling card: the symbol of a black hand. The crimes whipped up the slavering tabloid press and heated ethnic tensions to the boiling point. Standing between the American public and the Black Hand's lawlessness was Joseph Petrosino. Dubbed the "Italian Sherlock Holmes," he was a famously dogged and ingenious detective, and a master of disguise. As the crimes grew ever more bizarre and the Black Hand's activities spread far beyond New York's borders, Petrosino and the all-Italian police squad he assembled raced to capture members of the secret criminal society before the country's anti-immigrant tremors exploded into catastrophe. Petrosino's quest to root out the source of the Black Hand's power would take him all the way to Sicily--but at a terrible cost. Unfolding a story rich with resonance in our own era, The Black Hand is fast-paced narrative history at its very best.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780544633384
  • ISBN-10: 0544633385
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
  • Publish Date: April 2017
  • Page Count: 320
  • Dimensions: 9 x 6.2 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.15 pounds


Related Categories

Books > True Crime > Organized Crime
Books > History > United States - 20th Century
Books > Social Science > Criminology

 
BookPage Reviews

An unsung American hero

On the day of Joseph Petrosino’s funeral, the New York City mayor declared a public holiday. Everything shut down; a quarter-million people lined the streets to mourn his passing, as six black horses pulled his hearse in a procession from St. Patrick’s Cathedral to the cemetery.

Many readers are now asking themselves: Who on earth was Petrosino? Little remembered today, he was a hero more than 100 years ago—the first Italian police detective sergeant in the U.S. and the face of the national crusade against an extortion-and-kidnapping crime wave perpetrated mostly by Italian criminals against law-abiding fellow immigrants. Author Stephan Talty focuses on that crisis, at its height from 1903 to 1914, in his exciting narrative The Black Hand.

The Black Hand, a loosely affiliated collection of criminal gangs, terrorized Italian immigrants by extorting businesses, kidnapping children for ransom, blowing up buildings and killing the uncooperative. Most victims were too frightened to seek help, and the police and politicians were largely uninterested until the problem spread into nonimmigrant neighborhoods. But Petrosino, an incorruptible, opera-loving tough guy, fought back with his “Italian Squad” of cops, who developed modern investigative techniques.

During this era, Italian Americans had to overcome vile discrimination by native-born Americans. Talty’s writing is wonderfully evocative in capturing the complex immigrant experience of hope, fear, pride and bewilderment. He doesn’t stray into current events, but the parallels with contemporary political concerns are unmistakable. The first law allowing the deportation of immigrants who have criminal records in their home countries was passed in 1907, in direct response to the Black Hand. The organization was finally stamped out—but Petrosino lost his life in the struggle.

This article was originally published in the May 2017 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 
BAM Customer Reviews