Saturday, August 25, 2012

Gangster Squad -- One Hell of a Book!

     I just finished reading this tome and hated that there wasn't more!

     By the time I got to the last page, I felt as if secrets that had been kept for decades has been revealed to me personally. If Mickey Cohen came alive again, I'm sure I could recognize him -- and know him for what he was. With all his idiosyncracies, there was humor and absurdity mixed into the brew. The other gangsters were equally three-dimensional and fascinating.
     Paul Lieberman spent 20 years putting this book together. It was a labor of love by a top notch writer/reporter. He went after his story and chased down every living member of the Gangster Squad -- hard-nosed cops who bent every rule to go after the mob. It was a war of wits. They did whatever it took to find out what the gangsters were doing and risked life and limb to stop them.
     Relatives of the gangster squad filled out details of the past that only family would have known. Lieberman didn't let go of his story. He was clearly in love with the people who cared enough to be good cops. With the tenacity of a born reporter, the author sought out every shred of information, every detail anyone alive might have known about the police and the gangsters.
     What gives the book extraordinary color and richness is the tone of it. It is history, but it doesn't read like history. It is a conversation -- a long conversation -- full of juicy details we might have heard if we were standing behind these guys and listening to them plot and plan. Thanks to Paul Lieberman, their stories will not get lost or buried.
      As a post script, I have to add that I wrote for the L.A. Times a long time ago -- before Paul Lieberman joined the staff. I wish I had been around later and had the pleasure of meeting him. He is an example of the first class people that I worked with at the Times. They were the best.