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Newly Published: The Italian Squad

New on our bookshelf:

The Italian Squad: How the NYPD Took Down the Black Hand Extortion Racket
Andrew Paul Mele

At the turn of the twentieth century, thousands of Italian immigrants left their home country for the United States and, particularly, New York City. A small minority of the immigrants were members of a criminal syndicate that largely victimized fellow immigrants. The most common crime was a type of extortion known as “Black Hand.” The methods of extortion were particularly violent, and included kidnapping, arson, and murder. The New York Police Department, unable to speak the language and unaware of the traditions of the immigrants, was virtually helpless in dealing with them. In 1904, Italian-American Lt. Detective Joseph Petrosino formed a group of Italian detectives to deal exclusively with the extortion crimes and the criminal underworld of Italian society in New York which had become known in the American press as “The Black Hand Society.” This book tells the story of The Italian Squad from its inception, through Petrosino’s death, to the squad’s expansion into Queens and Brooklyn.