Gangsterismo is an extraordinary accomplishment, the most comprehensive history ever of the clash of epic forces over several decades in Cuba. It is a chronicle that touches upon deep and ongoing themes in the history of the Americas, and more specifically of the United States government, Cuba pre- and post-Castro, and the criminal networks known as the Mafia.The result ofGangsterismo is an extraordinary accomplishment, the most comprehensive history ever of the clash of epic forces over several decades in Cuba. It is a chronicle that touches upon deep and ongoing themes in the history of the Americas, and more specifically of the United States government, Cuba pre- and post-Castro, and the criminal networks known as the Mafia.The result of 18 years' research at national archives and presidential libraries in Kansas, Maryland, Texas, and Massachusetts, here is the complete and as-yet-untold story of the making and unmaking of a gangster state in Cuba. In the early 1930s, mobster Meyer Lansky sowed the seeds of gangsterismo when he won Cuban strongman Fulgencio Batista's support for a mutually beneficial arrangement: along with Batista and senior Cuban army and police officers, the mobsters would profit from a gambling colony in Cuba. In return, Cuban authorities promised not to interfere with the operations of the "protected" casinos, hotels, and nightclubs. Over the next twenty-five years, a gangster state took root in Cuba as Batista, other corrupt Cuban politicians, and senior Cuban army and police officers got rich. All was going swimmingly until a handful of revolutionaries upended the neat arrangement: and the CIA, Cuban counterrevolutionaries, and the Mafia joined forces to attempt the overthrow of Castro.Gangsterismo is unique in the literature on Cuba, and establishes for the first time the integral, extensive role of mobsters in the Cuban exile movement. The narrative unfolds against a broader historical backdrop of which it was a part: the confrontation between the United States and the Cuban revolution, which turned Cuba into one of the most perilous battlegrounds of the Cold War....
|Title||:||Gangsterismo: The United States, Cuba, and the Mafia, 1933 to 1966|
|Number of Pages||:||330 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
Gangsterismo: The United States, Cuba, and the Mafia, 1933 to 1966 Reviews
"The story of "gangsterismo" was told in the context of the history of US policy in Cuba and the Cold War in the tumultuous 1950s and 1960s." (pg. xi). The author discussed recruitment of the mob, named key mafia members, and explained their connection(s) to Cuba. "Gangsterismo: The United States, Cuba, and the Mafia, 1933 to 1966," by Jack Colhoun, placed its emphasis on the Castro-Russia relationship, the inner workings of the Kennedy administration, CIA politics, and the acquisition of nuclear armament(s). Soviet – Cuban relations became stronger in order for Cuba to sever herself from US influence. Commitments from the Soviets included nuclear armament…something of great concern to the United States. Calhoun detailed each nation's type of weaponry and their quantities, with an emphasis on the possession of nuclear units. Undoubtedly, there was a significant emphasis on the nuclear arms race, and I failed to see a tie-in to "gangsterismo" (mafia connections).In fact, involvement of "gangsterismo" did not present itself prominently. I noted seeing the word "gangsterismo" used only twice on page 204, to essentially divulge who had profited from it. A return to substantial details regarding mafia activities in Cuba finally occurred around page 220. At that juncture it seemed that the author tried to overcompensate for the lack of "gangsterismo" theme throughout most of the book. It made this section seem like an entire redirect of the book. It read as an over-correction. I could not see how prior events led up to this point. Utilization of references to the mafia in this book's title and within the contents of the book served, collectively, as a loss leader. The author's technical writing style did not detract from what the author had to say, but it significantly narrowed the reader population that would both enjoy this book and/or fully understand the value it provided as a resource on Cold War era Cuba. The author wrote at a reading level that appeared to be beyond that of a high school student, as exemplified in the following sentence: "There is no fact-based answer for a counterfactual question" (pg. 247).I was disappointed by two other facets of this book. There did not appear to be any reference to Cuba's former head of intelligence: Mr. Aspillaga. It would seem that one could not write a piece involving Cuban Intelligence in the Cold War era without mentioning that man's name. Also, most of the pictures placed in this book did not seem relevant its actual focus.The rating process for this book became more challenging than what I expected. There was no doubt that the book was a loss leader in its claim of "gangsterismo" being the principle storyline. The book lost one star for that reason. The author wrote intelligently, but not in a manner that compelled the reader to gain a sentiment of not wanting to put down the book. The conclusion of the book was a disappointment, because it read as though it was written in a hurry…perhaps done in order to rush the book to completion. I thought that the author had a great deal of information to convey, and it was obvious that he knew how to do it well in several areas of the book; but, overall, this text was a repetition of hits and misses as I worked my way through it.The aforementioned opinions are purely my own and not reflective of author nor publisher bias; but, as mandated by Federal Law of the United States of America, I am required to advise that I received this book, free of charge, as a giveaway from the GoodReads FirstReads Program.
The title and cover of this book are a bit misleading as the whole Mafia aspect of the narrative is relatively minimal. The book is a richly detailed history of the political relationships between Cuba, the USA and the USSR during the turbulent times of the Cuban Revolution and up through the aftermath of John F. Kennedy's assasination. Of course "the Mafia" plays a role, but that is not the focus of most of the the book. Having said that, the author added a lot of new (to me) information and depth to the story and even succeeded in adding a new dimension to the missile crisis. This is not a bad book, I just wanted more details on organized crime's influence on Cuba, the CIA and Fidel Castro.
This is probably a must-read for anyone seeking in-depth information on U.S. relations with Cuba over the last 60 years. It is clear that an exhaustive amount of research into CIA archives went into this book. At times it reads like an alphabet soup of Anti-Castro, Exile commando groups (MRR, CRC and the list goes on).While I always understood why the Mafia was upset about Castro, I could never really understand why the U.S. cared so much (as if Communism could actually have been exported to the United States at that time). Although hindsight is always 20/20, it appears that such a paranoid foreign policy actually led Castro, who initially did not see himself as a Communist, to seek help from the U.S.S.R. which in turn led to the October Missile Crisis.In the aftermath of Kennedy's assassination, U.S. government monetary and training support for Cuban Commandos dwindled and was replaced by assistance from organized crime figures who had not given up hope of re-establishing their lucrative gaming empire in Havana. These raids on Cuba usually ended in disaster because the Castro regime was firmly established and the plans were increasingly amateurish.While a few colorful characters are given more space(such as Edward Lansdale, a rather buffoonish type who nevertheless was described by Robert Kennedy as "America's answer to James Bond"), I found that the narrative was dry and lacked the kind of personal stories that would have really made it a ripping read.For some reason it really made me want to go back and read Hunter S. Thompson's writings on The Alliance for Progress from the early 1960's (which was part of the U.S. attempt to prevent the spread of Communism to the rest of Latin America).
Two stars because the author has clearly done his research, but it loses three because it's written densely enough to be difficult for academics to parse, and the cover and title are utterly misleading; if you're going to write a book that discusses governmental relations and barely mentions organized crime, maybe pick a different title and don't put Lansky on the cover, especially if the only time you talk about him is to claim that he wasn't actually in charge of the casinos and rackets he created and was subordinate to Italians on the basis of them being Italian.
This is a good book, but the cover and title give the impression that it is primarily about how Meyer Lansky and other gangsters worked in Cuba. That is covered, but the book goes into a lot of interesting detail about the heavy involvement of the CIA and individuals within the US Government. Another sad story of American intervention (can you spell Iraq?).
Gangsterismo is extensively researched and well documented. This is a vast subject that reveals the tip of the iceberg. The book raises the question of who really rules in not only the many Latin American countries subjugated to the USA, but also who rules in the USA.