OVERRIDE

Gangster Squad

Covert Cops, the Mob, and the Battle for Los Angeles

Paul Lieberman

St. Martin's Griffin

  • Buy it now

“Read this man’s book.” --James Ellroy

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.               


“Read this man’s book.” --James Ellroy

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.               

BOOK EXCERPTS

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

The Dusty Road Con

 
Fred Whalen learned to scam along the Mississippi, the river that divides America, at pool halls and revivals. He was born in 1898 in Alton, Illinois, just upriver from St. Louis, and by the time he was a teenager he had figured out the traveling evangelists who set up shop in tents, barns, and occasionally, even, in real churches. He saw the people writhing in divine ecstasy out in their congregations and sensed immediately what was up: they were phonies, plants, shills for the preachers. Little Freddie was barely able to see over the pews but
READ THE FULL EXCERPT
BACK

MEDIA

Watch

  • Gangster Squad: Audiobook Excerpt

    Listen to an excerpt of the audiobook for Gangster Squad by Paul Lieberman.

BACK

REVIEWS

Praise for Gangster Squad

“Read this man’s book.” --James Ellroy

"Classic Noir, a chilling tale from the era that still defines L.A." --Huffington Post  

"I'm all in on this book. Got a little Mission Impossible in there. Got a little Dirty Dozen in there. Got a little Bud White from L.A. Confidential in there. All set on the mean Noir streets of L.A. I dig the circa. I did the milieu. And I dig the cast of characters." -- Dennis Miller

“If you're a fan of true crime, you will love it. Lieberman really gives us the sense that we've stepped back in time…. This is a two-fisted true story, tough and hard-edged, as exciting as any novel.” –Winnepeg Free Press


"A real-life version of L.A. Confidential."  --Joe Scarborough of "Morning Joe"

“Read this man’s book.” --James Ellroy

"Classic Noir, a chilling tale from the era that still defines L.A." --Huffington Post  

"I'm all in on this book. Got a little Mission Impossible in there. Got a little Dirty Dozen in there. Got a little Bud White from L.A. Confidential in there. All set on the mean Noir streets of L.A. I dig the circa. I did the milieu. And I dig the cast of characters." -- Dennis Miller

“If you're a fan of true crime, you will love it. Lieberman really gives us the sense that we've stepped back in time…. This is a two-fisted true story, tough and hard-edged, as exciting as any novel.” –Winnepeg Free Press


"A real-life version of L.A. Confidential."  --Joe Scarborough of "Morning Joe"

Reviews from Goodreads

BACK

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Paul Lieberman

  • PAUL LIEBERMAN spent 24 years as a writer and editor at the Los Angeles Times and before that was projects editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  He has won dozens of journalism honors, including the Robert F. Kennedy Awards Grand Prize, a George Polk Award, Gerald Loeb Award and American Society of Newspaper Editors Award. He also shared in two team Pulitzer Prizes at the L.A. Times, as a writer on its coverage of the Los Angeles Riots and an editor of its reporting on the Northridge Earthquake. A native New Yorker, Lieberman is a graduate of Williams College and was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard, where he studied law and social history. He lives in Westchester County with his wife, Heidi, a school administrator.

  • Paul Lieberman

MACMILLAN SPEAKERS

Paul Lieberman
X

Macmillan Speakers Bureau

represents thought-provoking authors and experts. We can find a speaker uniquely positioned for your audience and budget.

More info
BACK

COMMUNITY

Criminalelement.com

    MORE BLOG POSTS
    BACK

    BUY THE BOOK

    Available Formats and Book Details

    Gangster Squad

    Covert Cops, the Mob, and the Battle for Los Angeles

    Paul Lieberman

    BACK

    FROM THE PUBLISHER

    St. Martin's Griffin

    BACK