August 6, 2015   Thursday

Reader Jim Walmsley of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania emailed me his observations about the recent AMC-TV eight-part one-hour series The Making Of The Mob: New York that ran from June into August 2015.

He said, "I have been reading your book - 30 Illegal Years, as I have also been watching the weekly show "Making of the Mob" on AMC. That show's timeline, etc. is about the same as your book. However - there are so many absolute contradictions. The TV show doesn't acknowledge the widepread corruption in government at all. That shows puts ALL of the blame on the mob and the members."

I explained to Jim the reasons for the many incredible differences between the advertised "authentic" TV series and my book. "Thank you for taking the time to email me about my book 30 Illegal Years To The Strip. You can systematically confirm every fact I learned in my lifelong historical research because my book contains 546 endnotes of all my sources that are detailed in 41 pages. The date of every important event is listed along with extensive timelines of interrelated dates. Much of the information about New York gang activities and the city's politics came from the New York Times, and most about these activities in Chicago came from the Chicago Tribune. Thus, you can quickly confirm most facts by looking up the dates in one of these two newspapers' archived files, which are offered to the public on the internet for inspection. I believe you will find my presentations are highly accurate based on the investigative reports presented in these two newspapers and the many other sources that I used such as FBI files.

"This type of analysis using the dates presented in my endnotes will also expose the many gross inaccuracies presented in AMC's eight-part series The Making Of The Mob: New York that you refer to. The specific evidence collected at the crime scene is where effective detective work and true-crime analysis begins, but this series depicts one gangland murder after another very inaccurately. If you study the facts contained in the police reports, autopsies, coroner inquests, and newspaper investigative reports, you will find that most of the murders in this TV series suffer from one or more of the following forensic errors. They are at the wrong time of day, in an improper location, have an incorrect number of shooters and/or gunshots, and/or the wounds are inflicted to wrong parts of the body. If essential details of the killings are incorrect, how can anyone rely on the suppositions presented about the complex subjects of properly assigning guilt and determining motivation?

"This TV series is filled with many incredibly incorrect statements, and each should have raised a glaring red flag to anyone who claims to be an expert about the early history of organized crime. For example, in that era, there was no federal statute against murder, except for the killing of a federal law-enforcement agent. Yet, the AMC TV series has FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover  investigating three local murders over which the Justice Department had no jurisdiction to prosecute, and the FBI's files demonstrate that agents never investigated. Then, in Luciano's prostitution trial, AMC dramatizes the gangster's testimony and Prosecutor Tom Dewey's statements to the jurors, but their words on TV are the exact opposite to what they actually said in the courtroom, as reported not only in the New York Times, but also in the book by Dewey's career-long publicist Hickman Powell (Lucky Luciano: The Man Who Organized Crime in America). Even though Dewey was the lead prosecutor in Manhattan in New York County (or Borough), AMC has him prosecuting three cases in Brooklyn in King County, which had a different DA. Not only did Dewey have no jurisdiction in King County, but the records of these Brooklyn prosecutions demonstrate that Dewey had no participation in these trials. The AMC series also has Meyer Lansky building new casinos in Havana a decade before Cuba allowed them. AMC states that New York's Ben Siegel led the huge extortion of the Hollywood movie studios, but the unions that directed these shakedowns were under the sole control of the Chicago gang. The leaders of these unions and the studio owners testified against the Chicago-gang thugs regarding every aspect of the extortion, leaving no conceivable role for Siegel. And the list of well-documented serious errors presented in this AMC TV series goes on, and on, and on with this type of gross misinformation.

"You should also consider the veracity of the sources AMC relied on for this series. Not one person who was quoted had been born when these events occurred, and AMC does not explain how any of them learned anything about what they were talking about. AMC used a number of actors who appeared in fictional mobster films; a few organized-crime authors, including the co-author of The Last Will and Testament of Lucky Luciano, which the nation's press proved was a complete fraud before it was even published; a federal prosecutor, even though it was the IRS and local prosecutors rather than the FBI and Justice Department who brought down these gang leaders; and a former mob associate who would not have known any of the characters discussed in this series. Finally, extensive law enforcement investigations and criminal trial testimonies prove that many of AMC's assertions about some of the key characters are totally untrue, including AMC's even placing some top mobsters in the wrong New York gangs."

Jim's reply to me said, "Thanks so much for your detailed response in regard to the glaring discrepancies between your book and the AMC series. I did, often times as I was reading the book and then again after I completed the book, read all of the end notes and sources you cited. That was a very helpful addition to your work. The endnotes which I referred back to as I was reading were also valuable as your book wasn't an "easy read" - that isn't necessarily a bad thing, it's just that in today's world of most people wanting things to be simple and immediate your book required some thought and I found myself rereading and referring to the endnotes for further explanation.

"I have passed my copy on to an employee of mine and have recommended the book to several others that I know have an interest on the subject. I encourage those who find themselves watching the AMC series to read your book, 30 Illegal Years. I am disappointed and a bit sad when shows like "Making of the Mob" are able to present "history" so inaccurately. ... Feel free to use my questions and comments in your blog. I am interested to read the views of others as well.