Animal: The Rise and Fall of the Mobs Most Feared Assassin was a fantastic read especially for those who are mob buffs. It covers the “golden age” of mob activity in the 1960’s and 1970’s but most interestingly, the focus is on the New England Faction led by Raymond Patriarca.
Joe Barboza, nicknamed the Animal, was a hit man for the mob in New England. He wanted desperately to be a made man but because he was Portuguese that never transpired. This bind is part of the reason he chose to play both sides against the middle – killing for the mob while testifying for the FBI.
Long before Sammy “The Bull” Gravano there was Joe Barboza. The New England faction is even more interesting in many respects because it is made up of a real melting pot of organized criminals: the Irish, the Germans and the Italians as well as young men from many minority communities who act as associates to these groups.
There is a lot of detail but probably the most fascinating aspect is just how crooked the FBI was – especially when dealing with Organized Crime. It goes beyond the FBI – all the way back to Robert Kennedy’s obsession with and focus on OC to Hoover’s long standing crusade and win at all costs mentality that seeped into the lower levels of the organization.
At one point when Barboza and his family were being held by the FBI while he testified, even the writing begins to feel claustrophobic – you start to feel like you are trapped right there with the family. This is also an introduction into how the Witness Protection Program came into existence and its success or lack thereof when it comes to mob informants.
A must read for those into mafia/mob books and the true crime genre in general.