Though not as well known today as many of his contemporaries, few American mob bosses were as feared as Albert Anastasia. As head of “Murder Inc.”, Anastasia presided over the contract killing of hundreds of people, some of whom he murdered with his own hands. In Lord High Executioner: The Legendary Mafia Boss Albert Anastasia
(Citadel, 2020), Frank DiMatteo and Michael Benson draw upon DiMatteo’s firsthand experiences with several of Anastasia’s contemporaries to recount the tale of Anastasia’s bloody career. Born Umberto Anastasio, the young Anastasia went AWOL from the Italian Navy in order to start his life in America. During the 1920s Anastasia rose rapidly in the ranks of the New York mob in the thanks to his organizing abilities and his willingness to do dangerous work. When “Lucky” Luciano organized the five families in 1931, Anastasia became the underboss of Vincent Mangano and was placed in charge of their enforcement arm. Over the next quarter of a century Anastasia ruled through intimidation and bloodshed, until his growing public infamy and a series of missteps on his part led to his own execution in a Manhattan barbershop in 1957.