Cowan, Rick and Douglas Century. Takedown. New York: Berkley, 2002. ISBN 0-425-19299-7.
This is the true story of a New York Police Department detective who almost accidentally found himself in a position to infiltrate the highest levels of the New York City garbage cartel, one of the Mafia's fattest and most fiercely guarded cash cows for more than half a century. Cowan's investigation, dubbed “Operation Wasteland”, resulted in the largest organised crime bust in New York history, eliminating the “mob tax” paid by New York businesses which tripled their waste disposal charges compared to other cities. This book was recommended as a real world antidote to the dramatic liberties taken by the writers of The Sopranos. Curiously, I found it confirmed several aspects of The Sopranos I'd dismissed as far-fetched, such as the ability of mobsters to murder and dispose of the bodies of those who cross them with impunity, and the “mad dog” behaviour (think Ralph Cifaretto) of high ranked top-earner wiseguys.

September 2004 Permalink