Thursday, December 4, 2008

BTPC Book Review: Gus Russo's "The Outfit"

One thing I hope to do with some regularity is review the books I read. Of course, that would require me to actually finish reading some of the books that are currently littering my castle. Here's the latest one I finished, Gus Russo's "The Outfit: The Role of Chicago's Underworld in the Shaping of Modern America"

I've been working on this book for about three months, along with biographies of Caesar and Doc Holliday. This was the first one I finished, so that has to mean something.

This book was actually surprisingly informative. I mean, you know a book about organized crime should be interesting. But I found myself constantly amazed at the extent to which Big Al's creation has affected our modern world. Little things like the fact that the Outfit created Billboard's Top 40 simply as a way to promote acts managed by their particular agencies. Of course, the Top 40 was based off of jukebox plays, which the Outfit controlled because they controlled the jukes and the places that got them.

The afterword really has some interesting info. Russo discusses the the perception of the "underworld" syndicates versus the "upperworld" syndicates. He's got some really good stats on white collar crime and how it actually dwarfs anything the mob ever did.

But the real star of the book is Llewelyn "Curly" Humphreys. If you're like me, you never heard of the guy. But the Hump was the brains behind just about every racket organized crime got into over the years. He's the guy who came up with the "taking the Fif" and he was also apparently the man who may be responsible for putting JFK in the White House, not to mention the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. The stuff on that election was really good. Personally, Curly thought it was a mistake to back Kennedy, but in a testament to why the syndicate lasted for so long, he went along with the group's decision.

My final verdict? 4 out of 5 stars. Anytime I finish a book and start looking for another by the same author, I know it was a good read. I thinking I will try Russo's "Supermob" about Sidney Korshak next. Supposedly, without Korshak, we'd have no Godfather movies.

1 comment:

Mike Reino said...

READING ??? What the F**k is that? If the book was really good, they'd make a movie out of it - like Forrest Gump. That movie was great, except that Forrest didn't become President, so I had to lower my dreams to playing for 'Bama, and being a captain of industry....