Tuesday, April 26, 2011

"The Mob and Me" by John Partington and Arlene Violet

John Partington is one of the original founders of the Witness Protection Program. Along with former Attorney General Arlene Violet, he has written a book that is at once, both historically accurate, and very insightful. The book takes you beyond the world shown in films such as "Goodfellas", where the bad guys are the heroes, and shows what it is like when things don't go right for members of organized crime.

Mr. Partington's experience begins in the mid 1960's, working as a U.S. Marshall. It was in this position that he first encountered Robert F. Kennedy, who was a strong believer in getting mobsters to "roll" on one another. The Witness Protection Program became the vehicle which would drive that effort. With promises of protection, money, housing and even jobs, the program almost became a retirement plan for some of the nation's worst criminals.

By dangling bits of information in front of the Feds, the mobsters learned quickly how to play the "Program", just as they had learned to "fix" the gambling in Vegas.

This is an insightful look at the other side of organized crime, taking the reader into the lives of the families of the mobsters. The price that they pay, in lost relations, normal childhoods and freedom are enormous. But there is another side to this book as well.

What toll is taken on the family of the agents involved in this program? How do the wives, and children, of the agents involved, deal with the long absences required of this highly unusual job?

From Joe Valachi, Bob Leuci (Prince of the City) to John Dean and Howard Hunt of the Watergate Affair, the author fills his account with some unforgettable characters. And one of the most important things which the reader takes away from this book is that the Criminals and Marshalls are but two sides of one coin. By that I mean, that though their goals may be totally different, the problems they face in their personal lives are too often the same.

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