Inspector Oldfield and the Black Hand Society: America’s Original Gangsters and the U.S. Postal Detective Who Brought Them to Justice

William Oldfield and Victoria Bruce. Touchstone, $26 (320p) ISBN 978-1-5011-7120-8
Drawing on a treasure trove of family records, Oldfield and coauthor Bruce (No Apparent Danger) use the remarkable life of the author’s great-grandfather, Frank Oldfield, to illuminate the little-known role of federal postal inspectors in federal law enforcement at the turn of the 20th century. Born to a wealthy family in Ellicott City, Md., Oldfield held a variety of jobs thanks to the influence of his father, the city’s local postmaster. Using his family’s connections and his own political prowess, Oldfield was elected to county sheriff by age 29 and in 1899 quickly rose to U.S. postal inspector, one of “the country’s most powerful federal law enforcers,” with the authority to “take over an investigation from any law enforcement agency in the country” if mail was “used in any fashion.” Oldfield’s knack for undercover work led him to uncover major corruption in the U.S. Post Office. He also served as lead investigator of the Black Hand case, during which time he oversaw the arrest of 16 major players in the underground criminal society. A captivating summary of the origins of the U.S. postal system adds intrigue to this lucid blend of true crime and history. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 07/23/2018
Release date: 08/21/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-1-5011-7121-5
MP3 CD - 978-1-9786-7260-4
Library Binding - 978-1-4328-5611-3
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