A recently released biography points to 19th Century New Orleans as the birthplace of the American Mafia, according to a book review by Scott Deitche published by Blogcritics magazine.
Deep Water: Joseph P. Macheca and the Birth of the American Mafia "is a worthy addition to the organized crime canon and the greater body of books on Civil War-era America," Deitche wrote. Deitche praised the book's attention to detail: "You can practically smell the fetid air of the New Orleans waterfront."
Deep Water states that Macheca, a Confederate Army veteran and a pioneer of Gulf commerce, organized and financed a series of New Orleans gangs, including one that became the first lasting Mafia foothold in the United States. The authors suggest that Macheca did so in service of a corrupt Democratic machine. They argue that the 1890 assassination of New Orleans Police Chief David Hennessy and the 1891 Crescent City Lynchings of 11 Italian Americans unconvicted of any crime were also products of the same political corruption.
The largest lynching in American history was "more a calculated hit than a random act of mob violence," Deitche wrote.
- Deep Water website: www.jpmacheca.com