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May 22—By page 20, Bonnie & Clyde are dead and John Dillinger isn't looking so good.
For readers looking for the gangsters, bank robbers and outlaws of the 1930s, the ones mentioned as well as "Pretty Boy" Floyd, "Baby Face" Nelson, Ma Barker and even Al Capone, they are part of the early pages of Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard's latest "Killing" book — "Killing the Mob: The Fight Against Organized Crime in America."
But the majority of the book is devoted to more organized crime, the crime syndicates, the crime families, the mob, the Mafia.
As with all of the "Killing" books, O'Reilly and Dugard take readers into a murderous world. Whether it is the Civil War and John Wilkes Booth plotting to assassinate a president as they did in their first "Killing" book, "Killing Lincoln," or the violence of World War II in "Killing Patton," or the brutality of Rome and crucifixion in "Killing Jesus," the "Killing" books are violent but often fascinating reads for the histories they share and the people introduced.
While the books started by spotlighting the deaths of specific individuals, they have morphed into the deaths of a group or an idea: "Killing England," about the American Revolution throwing off British rule; "Killing the SS," the hunt for Nazis after World War II; "Killing the Rising Sun," the transformation of imperial Japan after the dropping of atomic bombs; even "Killing Crazy Horse" is more about the end of the Native American dominance and freedom on the continent rather than the loss of one man.
In "Killing the Mob," O'Reilly and Dugard explain the society that created the American mafia. It reveals how the mafia became part of almost every level of life in the United States. It follows J. Edgar Hoover as he refuses to admit the existence of organized crime and does not devote his FBI into investigating mafia members and young Robert Kennedy as he seeks information about the mafia through various hearings.
They write about the entanglement of the Kennedy administration with the mob, noting that President John F. Kennedy had an affair with a woman who was also tied to a chief mob boss — though the authors provide plenty of footnotes that refute many allegations mentioned throughout the book. Frank Sinatra is here, so is Marilyn Monroe, Sonny Liston, Muhammad Ali, etc.
O'Reilly and Dugard don't claim the mafia is dead in America so much as conclude it has been revealed and is no longer as powerful.
Fans of the "Killing" series will find the latest volume — the 10th one — another must read.