American Mafia provides a balanced, well-researched history of the Mafia's origin and devleopment in the New World, from the 1880s to the post-WWII era.
Structuring his narrative around a series of case histories featuring such infamous characters as Lucky Luciano and Al Capone, Reppetto, a former police detective, draws on a lifetime of field experience and access to unseen documents to reveal a locally grown Mafia. The nation's first crime families, we find, were initially shaped by living and working conditions in a variety of ethnic neighborhoods in big cities across the country, but it wasn't until the 1920s, thanks to Prohibition, that the Mafia assumed what are now seen as its defining characteristics, especially its Italian American ties and its octopus-like tendency to infiltrate industry and government. At mid-20th-century, the Kefauver Commission declared the Mafia synonymous with Union Siciliana; in the 1960s, the FBI finally admitted the Mafia's existence under the name La Cosa Nostra.
As accessible as it is authoritative, American Mafia is a fascinating study of America's most compelling criminal subculture—from an author well-acquainted with both sides of the street.