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Saturday, 28 June 2014
Lad Lit Book Reviews: Double Cross by Sam and Chuck Giancana
But if I put all of that to one side and forget for one minute about who cares what is fact and what is fiction, this is one hell of a read! Double Cross is the biography of Chicago gangster Sam ‘Mooney’ Giancana as told by his brother Chuck. Giancana was the ruthless mobster who ruled the Chicago Outfit during the mobs heyday in the late 50s and 60s. It was a golden era of American history and some of the most iconic figures from that decade feature prominently within the Giancana legend. None more so than JFK and his infamous assassination in 1963.
Conspiracy theorists would have a field day with this book as Chuck Giancana explains (or claims) just how close the mafia came to having a grip on the White House, as he says it was their blood money that financed the Kennedy Presidential campaign; set-up through the connections of his bootlegger father, Joe Kennedy, to the underworld. The story goes that the moment the Kennedy got into power he turned his back on those who have bankrolled his rise to lead the most powerful country in the world, and hence leaving a few bad guys in fedora's none too happy!
Throw in names like Frank Sinatra, Bobby Kennedy, Phyllis McGuire and Marilyn Monroe, plus a CIA and mob connection to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro and a sprinkle of some of America’s most notorious criminals such as Al Capone, and you have all of the ingredients of a really fantastic story that could easily have fallen off the pages of a Hollywood script.
And this is just one aspect of the life and times of Sam Giancana that his brother Chuck goes into great detail about. Before and after that is the rise and fall of one of the mafia’s most vicious players, starting from his upbringing as a Sicilian immigrant in the early 1900s where his father would mercilessly beat him which undoubtedly went a long way to creating the street thug who murdered his way through the ranks to reach the top of the Chicago mob before his fate was sealed by the very hands in which he had served for his whole life.
The element of doubt on the authenticity of this book that creeps in comes from the fact that Chuck Giancana has woven it all together via recollections of other mobsters and associates of his brother, as well of course as the words straight out of Sam Giancana’s mouth, who's ego was so huge it is not unfair to assess that some of what he said could have been largely exaggerated.
For me, that is an easy stumbling block to get over and it didn’t ruin or tarnish the book for me. Like most books of this ilk, whether it is about a mafia hoodlum or an FBI agent recounting their memories of events, you believe what you choose to believe. For me, there is more than enough evidence that has come from elsewhere to suggest that the mob had their fingers in all of these pies, so what Chuck Giancana says in this book is not out of the realms of possibility. But like any good conspiracy theory, it’s up to you to decide what side of the fence you sit. As for me, I’m firmly on the side of giving this book a huge thumbs up.