Gangsterismo: The United States, Cuba, and the Mafia 1933-1966

Jack Colhoun. OR Books, $25 (340p) ISBN 978-1-935928-89-8
Radical journalist Colhoun's nearly 20 years of research reveal how Castro's rise to power made unlikely allies of the United States government and the Mafia casino owners he sought to expel from Cuba. He takes us through the CIA's covert methods of undermining Castro, notably organizing, arming, and funding Cuban counterrevolutionary groups in the United States which culminated in the Cuban missile crisis. Examples include the botched Bay of Pigs attack and Operation Mongoose, a failed attempt to "organize a popular uprising on the island…as a pretext for U.S military intervention in Cuba." The CIA worked directly with the Mafia on several attempts to assassinate Castro, and Cuba-based gangsters like Meyer Lansky and Frank Fiorini provided the CIA and FBI with information from inside the country. Colhoun also follows the escalation of Cold War relations from negotiations in Vienna and the construction of the Berlin Wall, to the agreement to remove missiles from Cuba. The situation fizzled out after Kennedy's assassination by Lee Harvey Oswald, a supposed "pro-Castro Marxist", and Krushchev's removal from power. Interestingly, Jack Ruby, the man who shot Oswald, was a known associate of the Cuban Mafia. Colhoun's commendable research results in a detailed, nuanced picture of Cold War-era politics and personalities. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/06/2013
Genre: Nonfiction
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