A harrowing, edge-of-your-seat narrative of murder and secrets, revenge and heroism in the City of Angels—the real events behind the blockbuster Warner Brothers film starring Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone.
GANGSTER SQUAD chronicles the true story of the secretive police unit that waged an anything-goes war to drive Mickey Cohen and other hoodlums from Los Angeles after WWII. In 1946, the LAPD launched the Gangster Squad with eight men who met covertly on street corners and slept with Tommy guns under their beds. But for two cops, all that mattered was nailing the strutting gangster Mickey Cohen. Sgt. Jack O'Mara was a square-jawed church usher, Sgt. Jerry Wooters a cynical maverick. About all they had in common was their obsession. So O'Mara set a trap to prove Mickey was a killer. And Wooters formed an alliance with Mickey's budding rival, Jack "The Enforcer" Whalen. Two cops -- two hoodlums. Their fates collided in the closing days of the 1950s, when late one night "The Enforcer" confronted Mickey and his crew. The aftermath would shake both LA's mob and police department, and signal the end of a defining era in the city's history.
Warner Brothers developed the film Gangster Squad based on the research award-winning journalist Paul Lieberman conducted for this book, which reveals the unbelievable true stories behind the film. He spent more than a decade tracking down and interviewing surviving members of the real police unit as well as families and associates of the mobsters they pursued. Gangster Squad is a tour-de-force narrative reminiscent of LA Confidential.
Drawing on a broad range of evidence, from government records to films, television shows, and pulp novels, Bernstein explains how the campaign against organized crime, like the crusade against communism, reflected deep social and political anxieties. Just as the inquisitions of Senator McCarthy fed on popular fears of international conspiracy and alien infiltration, the anticrime investigations of the 1950s raised the specter of a foreign-based criminal cartel -- the Sicilian Mafia -- preying on a vulnerable American public. In both cases, the association of the foreign-born with criminal or un-American activity led to the creation of state and local citizens committees and to calls for new restrictions on immigration. Labor unions also came under attack, particularly after the McClellan Committee and its chief counsel, Robert F. Kennedy, claimed to have found a link between the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, led by Jimmy Hoffa, and the Mafia.
As Bernstein points out, despite significant changes in the way organized crime actually operated, and despite repeated protests from Italian Americans, the popular image of the sinister gangster persisted, because it served a more profound need. In an era marked by widespread uncertainty and rapid social change, the fight against a common enemy, real or imagined, helped forge a Cold War consensus across shifting lines of race, class, and ethnicity by redefining what it meant to be an American.
Mafioso Enriquez gives an insider′s view of how he devoted his life to the cause--the Mexican Mafia, La Familia Mexicana, also known as La Eme--only to find betrayal and disillusionment at the end of a bloody trail of violence that he followed for two decades.
And now, award-winning investigative journalist Chris Blatchford, with the unprecedented cooperation of Rene Enriquez, reveals the inner workings, secret meetings, and elaborate murder plots that make up the daily routine of the Mafia brothers. It is an intense, never-before-told story of a man who devoted his life to a bloody cause only to find betrayal and disillusionment.
Based on years of research and investigation, Chris Blatchford has delivered a historic narrative of a nefarious organization that will go down as a classic in mob literature.