Tag: LA

Gangster Squad by Paul Lieberman

Posted March 19, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Non-Fiction / 0 Comments

Gangster Squad by Paul LiebermanTitle: Gangster Squad (Goodreads)
Author: Paul Lieberman
Published: St. Martin's Griffin, 2012
Pages: 560
Genres: Non-Fiction
My Copy: Personal Copy

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Gangster Squad chronicles the true story of the secret police unit that was assembled to wage war against Mickey Cohen and any other hoodlums in Los Angeles. In 1946 the LAPD created this squad to take down Cohen and clean up the streets by any means necessary. Lasting about four years this war lead to an aftermath that shocks both the LA mob and the police department but ultimately ensuring the mob will never have a foot hold on this city ever again.

I recently saw the very loosely based movie adaptation of this true crime novel and it left me curious to know more about this squad and the life of Mickey Cohen. So I went out and read the book; while it was very story driven, the novel did get rather dry about half way through. I love books about organised crime and I was happy to learn more about the infamous Jewish mobster and his downfall.

I’m not too sure how accurate this book is; I took it was a huge grain of salt but I found out afterwards this was compiled but interviews of the gangster squad and others involved in this operation, so maybe there is some truth to it. But with all true crime and non-fiction books, I remain sceptical of the research. I always read these books and wonder just how much is researched and how much is just pure speculation, I think in this aspect I prefer the fictionalised novels of true events; that way I know for sure it is just their take on the events.

I loved the movie; it was an enjoyable Hollywood butchering of what really happened and I’m fine with that, it was entertaining. As for the book, it read like a novel at the beginning but then I think the author realised we was writing True Crime and tried to over correct himself because it became really dry and clinical. I wish he didn’t shift gears because when he tried to stick to the facts I found myself getting lost with all the people mentioned; I wasn’t sure if I’m meant to know who they all where but the cast was big and there was no point of reference for them all.

It starts off with a pulp feel to it but then it changes so drastically, I’m very interested in learning more about organised crime in America through true crime and novels but this book didn’t really teach me anything. I think the book just got so jammed pack with names that I was confused and I didn’t learn anything that I didn’t already know. Finally verdict; watch the movie, it’s very entertaining and will give you some idea of what actually happened. As for the book, it didn’t really work, I like how they explored all aspects, including their failed operations but in the end Gangster Squad didn’t work as well as I was hoping.