Covert Cops, the Mob, and the Battle for Los Angeles
Gangster Squad (St. Martin’s Press, 2012) the book is not Gangster Squad the movie. One is a detailed and thoroughly researched account of organized crime in Los Angeles and the other is a movie. If you are really interested in organized crime then you should read the book. Paul Lieberman has produced an excellent story of the gangsters and the police who tried to close them down. He presents both sides as real human beings – each with many foibles. This is the story of the growth of Los Angeles and the attraction of people from across the nation to the new world of sunshine and opportunity. Of course, the inhabitants of this city have the same needs for illicit goods and services as any other city and there is always someone who will provide the supply to meet the demand. Having said that, the distance from the East Coast to the West Coast, and the nature of the growing city, meant that LA was largely outside the control of the Italian mafia. It has its own characters and their own methods that reflect more of the brashness of Hollywood than the tradition of La Familia. The police who make up the Gangster Squad share many features of their targets – they just add a sense of justice and social responsibility. Besides being a great read, Gangster Squad fills a gap in the field by providing a history of organized crime that is neglected by the mainstream analysis. LA is a major city and its illicit economic story is equally as important as that of New York or Chicago.