Cover image for Encyclopedia of organized crime in the United States : from Capone's Chicago to the new urban underworld
Encyclopedia of organized crime in the United States : from Capone's Chicago to the new urban underworld
Kelly, Robert J.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn : Greenwood Press, 2000.
Physical Description:
xxx, 358 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Reading Level:
1290 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HV6446 .K43 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
HV6446 .K43 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
HV6446 .K43 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
HV6446 .K43 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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Typically, other reference works on organized crime in the United States focus primarily on the Mafia and La Cosa Nostra, and neglect the many new ethnic and racial criminal organizations that permeate American society today. This reference fills those gaps while providing systematic detailed coverage of traditional crime families, individuals, significant events, and terms. More than 250 entries provide in-depth information on major underworld figures, from Al Capone to John Gotti and Sammy the Bull Gravano, and key criminal events and milestones. In addition, Kelly, an expert on organized crime, provides in-depth coverage of African American organized crime, Chinese Triads and Tongs, the Colombian drug cartels' infiltration of the U.S., Dominican drug trafficking, ecocrime, Russian organized crime, Latin gangs and criminal groups, and Vietnamese American organized crime.

Significant events (such as the St. Valentine's Day Massacre) and historical milestones (such as the Apaplachian Meeting) are interwoven with contemporary trends and facts about the new underworlds emerging in American cities. Entries include data on the backgrounds of important and infamous criminals, their nicknames, organizational structure, their criminal careers, and colorful details about their lives. Also included are definitions of key phrases and terms, such as making your bones, and organization charts of traditional and new organized crime groups. Entries are placed in a social/historical context that clarifies their significance and enables the reader to appreciate the circumstances that shaped the criminal incidents and public response to them. This is the most comprehensive collection of current information on organized crime in the United States ever assembled in one volume and will be a valuable research tool for students and interested readers.

Author Notes

ROBERT J. KELLY is Broeklundian Professor of Social Sciences at Brooklyn College and Professor of Criminal Justice and Sociology at the Graduate School, City University of New York./e He has served as a consultant to numerous government agencies concerning terrorism, organized crime, prison administration, and extremist politics. Kelly is author of Hate Crimes: The Politics of Global Polarization (1998), African-American Organized Crime: A Social History (1997), Handbook of Organized Crime in the United States (Greenwood, 1994), and The Upperworld and the Underworld (1999).

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Kelly, author of several other books on organized crime, examines the phenomenon from its roots in freewheeling frontier towns to its modern-day manifestations in the urban underworld. By organized crime, Kelly means something more than the usual Mafia or gang-related activities. His book is "about crime that is organized, businesslike, `professional'--crime that is so thoroughly a part of our lives, ingrained in our institutions, and integrated into our economy and politics that we often fail to notice it or recognize its forms and face when it appears." More than 250 alphabetically arranged entries cover activities (Money laundering, Racketeering), issues (Organized crime and the media), personalities (Fort, Jeff; Gotti, John; Ness, Eliot); and both traditional and emerging groups (Colombian drug cartels, Russian organized crime, Tongs), with the emphasis on "the individual criminal whose personality, lifestyle and relationships with other criminals, law enforcement and the public shapes the nature of his criminal enterprises." The criteria for determining length of an entry (which varies from several paragraphs to several pages) include importance of individual careers, degree of current interest, importance of the consequences of the criminal activity or career, and law-enforcement response. Suggested readings are listed at the end of each entry. See also references allow the reader to efficiently find related material. An asterisk following a term or name indicates that the term is the subject of an entry. Photographs and tables are included where relevant. The encyclopedia portion of the volume is preceded by a time line of important dates and events and followed by a bibliography and an index. Though similar in content to The Mafia Encyclopedia [RBB O 15 99], Encyclopedia of Organized Crime in the United States takes a broader view, delving into historical and sociological roots. A good choice for academic libraries and also for public libraries, as it covers so many aspects of a popular topic.

Library Journal Review

In this new reference source on the developmental history of organized crime in America, Kelly (Brooklyn Coll. Graduate Sch., CUNY) describes and analyzes issues, criminal personalities, and trends throughout the 20th century. Kelly also examines the conditions that produced criminal activities and organizations. More than 250 entries provide in-depth information on major underworld figures, from Al Capone to Lucky Luciano to John Gotti, as well as key criminal events, from rub outs to FBI stings. In addition, Kelly explores the Chinese Triads and Tongs, the Colombian drug cartel's penetration of the United States, Russian organized crime, and a variety of American street gangs such as the Crips and Bloods. The entries include suggested readings and are cross-referenced; the most important ones are accompanied by photographs or tables and figures. While not as thorough or well written as The Mafia Encyclopedia (LJ 4/1/99), this is a fine general source that covers a wider ethnic range. Recommended for public libraries.--Tim Delaney, Canisius Coll., Buffalo (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Organized crime in the US dates at least to the Plug Uglies gang in the 1820s. Kelly (Brooklyn Col. and CUNY) confines his coverage to the 20th century, unlike Jay Robert Nash's World Encyclopedia of Organized Crime (1993). The 250 alphabetically arranged entries cover major crime figures as well as public personalities peripherally associated with the underworld (e.g., Walter Winchell; Jack Ruby, who as a teenager worked for Al Capone). In less than half the number of Nash's entries, Kelly supplies 116 unique entries. The entries also include words ("omerta," "consigliere") associated with the Mafia that have entered popular usage. Although drug trafficking and garbage and waste collection are covered, prostitution is not, nor are the Westies, a notorious Hell's Kitchen mob, 1960s-1980s. The entries are generally briefer than Nash's (Kelly devotes nine pages to Capone, Nash 20) and less liberally illustrated with photographs, but nearly all Kelly's entries have see entries and suggested readings. Kelly covers well gangs dominated by various ethnic groups; e.g., Chinese tongs. The style is fluent bordering on breezy, befitting a work discussing hoodlums bearing monikers like "The Ant" or "Benny the Bum." Kelly, a recognized authority on organized crime, has produced a current, authoritative work essential for all academic libraries. C. B. Thurston; University of Texas at San Antonio

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