The Italian Squad
The True Story of the Immigrant Cops Who Fought the Rise of the Mafia
by Paul Moses
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Pub Date 03 Jun 2023 | Archive Date 10 Oct 2023
The unknown inside story of the NYPD’s Italian-born detectives who fought both powerful gangsters and the deeply ingrained prejudice against their own beloved immigrant community
The story begins in Sicily, on Friday, March 12, 1909, at 8:45 p.m. Three gunshots thundered in the night, and then a fourth. Two men fled, and investigators soon discovered who they had killed: Giuseppe Petrosino, the legendary American detective whose exploits in New York were celebrated even in Italy.
The Italian Squad, by veteran New York City journalist and historian Paul Moses, explores the lives of the nationally celebrated detectives who followed in the slain Petrosino’s footsteps as leaders of the New York City investigative squad: Anthony Vachris, Charles Corrao, and Michael Fiaschetti. Drawing on new primary sources such as private diaries and city, state, and federal documents, this dramatic narrative history follows the Italian Squad across the first two decades of the twentieth century as its detectives battled increasingly powerful gangsters, political obstacles and deeply ingrained prejudice against their own beloved Italian immigrant community.
Vachris, Corrao, and Fiaschetti became, like Petrosino, famous for meting out tough justice to criminals who comprised the “Black Hand.” Beyond trying to prevent horrific crimes—nighttime bombings in crowded tenements, kidnappings that targeted children at play, gangland shootings that killed innocent bystanders—the Italian Squad commanders hoped to persuade society of what they knew for themselves: that their fellow immigrant Italians, so often maligned, would make good American citizens.
In this explosive story, Moses carefully strips away the mythology that has always enveloped the Italian Squad and offers instead a nuanced portrait of brave but flawed men who fought the good fight for their people and their city.
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Average rating from 7 members
A very great history book of both the Italian police and Mafia
This is the first book I have read by Paul Moses and The Italian Mafia is about the immigrant Police who fight the Mafia. The book is the history starting with the shooting of Joseph Petrosino who was the first commander of the Italian Squad starting in 1904.
The book follows the lives of the Italian Squad, Mayors, the police commissioners, the criminals, and their victims.
Paul Moses goes into great detail about the life’s of the police who are mainly Irish immigrants instead of Italian. This means the police are hated by the black hand who are mainly Italian thugs or are related to other gangs or the mafia. The black hand goes around committing bombings, shooting, kidnapping and extortion against the police or local people who have businesses or are perceived to have money. Children are the biggest kidnapping cases in this book and some live and some do not. The police also come under scrutiny as they can be very heavy handed and many of them are corrupt.
Most of the stories in this book I have never heard of before, but the stories are well laid out flow nicely easy to read and are done in years starting in 1904-1909 then moving up every few years. A very nice touch which I found is that there are also plenty of photographs which I found great as I could relate better to the characters in this book. A very great history book of both the Italian police and Mafia and for true crime and history buffs a must read which I thoroughly enjoyed and learnt plenty from. Thanks to NetGalley and to the publishers of this book for giving me a free advance copy of the book to preview and I am leaving this review voluntarily.