THE GRAPHIC HISTORY OF ORGANIZED CRIME
Illustrated with over 175 period photographs, richly illuminating the period of the 1890s – 1920s.
‘So meticulously researched it reads like a life’s work, Secret Societies examines the origins of the Sicilian-American Mafia. The focus is the 1890s-1920s, a period before the 1931 foundation of the ‘five families’ that is largely undocumented.’
- Stack Magazines
This is a time before the Castellammarese War – a period of bloody power struggles for control of the Italian-American Mafia. The important period preceding the war is considered murky and lacking historic documentation. This meticulously illustrated volume of Secret Societies shines a light on this fascinating time of American history and organized crime.
It does so through research from primary sources, richly illuminating the period of the 1890s – 1920s using photos, documents, contemporary articles and illustrations. Starting with a look at the “Black Hand” phenomenon and its relationship to organized crime.
Black Hand letters became synonymous with crime in Italian communities across the US. Recipients were threatened with bombs, arson, or murder unless a demand was satisfied. At the height of the crime wave New York City recorded 110 Black Hand bombings in just eight months.
The book also examines the story of the “Barrel Murder” in which Giuseppe Morello, the first boss-of-bosses of the US Mafia, was arrested following a brutal murder in the heart of New York’s “Little Italy.” Soon followed by the tragic story of NYPD officer Joseph Petrosino who became a pioneer in the fight against black handers and Mafiosi alike. In 1909, while on a secret mission, Petrosino became the only NYPD officer to be killed on foreign soil after he was assassinated in Palermo.
Through a combination of period photographs, government records, news clippings, graphic design and fully annotated text, Secret Societies permits the reader to witness the important moments and trends in the development of Sicilian-American organized crime in the United States.