The Crooked Ladder: Gangsters, Ethnicity, and the American Dream/ Menace to Society: Political-Criminal Collaboration Around the World

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The Crooked Ladder: Gangsters, Ethnicity, and the American Dream

James M. O’Kane

Transaction Publishers

ISBN: 0-7658-0994-X 196 pages

This book is a serious look on how crime in America has been, and continues to be, dominated by newly-arrived and/or excluded ethnic minorities. These are people who aspire to the American Dream, but don’t have the skills – or the desire to get the skills – to make it in America. The book documents the rise and fall of many ethnic groups from the Italian, Jewish, and Irish mobs’ rise and fall, to the current black, Puerto Rican, and Russian gangs. The book is primarily an overview of what has occurred, with a bit of applied sociology prognostication as to what the future may hold.

The criminal road for these minorities is one of crime, legitimization, success, and replacement by a new group. The author argues – we believe correctly so – that what we have today is what we had yesterday, and what we will have tomorrow. As long as there is a market-dominant majority, the minorities feeling excluded will choose to climb a ladder of success, but to use a crooked ladder to go around the wall instead of over the wall. A good read for anyone trying to put a face to the causes and support of modern gangs, and how modern gangs can evolve into modern mobs.

Menace to Society: Political-Criminal Collaboration Around the World

Roy Godson,  

Transaction Publishers

ISBN: 0-7658-0502-2 301 pages

This book is a collection of papers dedicated to the demonstration of the Political Criminal Nexus (PCN). Growing up in Chicago we never needed a book showing us the connection: It was in the street with the Aldermen, and in the local bar where jobs were meted out to the politically faithful.

But what is not widely known is that many countries have a substantial criminal element hiding behind the facade of legitimate government institutions. Colombia, Hong Kong, Mexico, Nigeria, Sicily, Taiwan, Turkey, and the Ukraine are the particular subject of this volume’s work. Several countries that were missed include virtually every other former communist nation, Bolivia, Burma, Peru, Venezuela, and half of all sub- Saharan nations.

In many of these nations there is no developed infrastructure for commerce, so commerce goes to those businesses that can curry favor with those in power. In many cases those in power use this power against their opposition (for example Mugabe in Zaire inciting riots against his opponents), to stay in power. This is not a new tale for those of us who work in international due diligence and law enforcement. Rather, it is an old and sad tale that often ends in violence, as those in power use every resource to remain in power, leaning for aid on those elements of society that have benefited most from their favors: The criminal elements aligned with the government. It is always a question as to which is the dominant party in the PCN, but the truth is that, over time, they become co-dependant.

This is a darn fine piece of work in terms of both documentation and research, as well as in the presentation of the material. We think it is worth well more than the published price. It is a good read for anyone interest in these sorts of problems, and a good explanation of why some governments do the things they do.

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