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INTERVIEW: Local Author Jeffrey Sussman On His Next Book: "Big Apple Gangsters: The Rise And Decline Of The Mob In New York"

T.J. Clemente

Big Apple Gangsters: The Rise and Decline of the Mob in New York will be released on November 20. (Courtesy Photo)

Jeffrey Sussman was kind enough to share the genesis of his new page turner, Big Apple Gangsters: The Rise and Decline of the Mob in New York. The book, to be released on November 20, 2020, can be pre-ordered on Amazon. It begins with the father of organized crime, Arnold Rothstein, and his four protégés: Meyer Lansky, Lucky Luciano, Bugsy Siegel, and Frank Costello. Those were the men who eliminated the two initial Mafia families run by Joe "The Boss" Masseria and Salvatore Maranzano. Luciano and Lansky then set up the National Crime Syndicate, whose board of directors actually oversaw the five Mafia families. The author explains the relationship between the Italian and Jewish gangsters, who worked as partners through much of the 20th century.

The first things that you realize in interviewing Jeffrey Sussman is his love and passion for what he is doing and his great story telling skills. When asked what he learned while writing this book, he relayed, "I learned that there were certain myths about the mob that just weren't true. For example, the myth perpetrated by a movie like The Godfather, that the mob doesn't deal with drugs, it just isn't true. They always dealt in drugs, but at the highest level."

Author Jeffrey Sussman. (Photo: Barbara Sussman)

However, this is not the tenor nor text of the factual intellectual approach Sussman took on putting this book together into a great mob narrative. When asked what would someone infatuated about the mob love about this book and why would someone who knows very little about the mob get out of reading this book, Sussman replied, "Those who are infatuated with the mob, I think will learn things that they never learned before, especially about the debunking of myths. They will also learn there is testimony from people whose work they have never heard of before. For example, there was a NYC detective named Tony Solano who surveilled John Gotti while John Gotti was awaiting trial. His encounter with John Gotti has never been reported before. So, anyone who is interested in knowing more about John Gotti will learn from that encounter." He also mentioned a few new crazy Joe Gallo stories of how he treated kids and a new revelation from a well-known mob attorney about his encounters with Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano - that Sussman claims, "probably nobody knows about." "So, I think these are some examples of what would add to what people already know about the mob," he noted. Then Sussman pivoted to those who are not mob infatuated. He shared, "I think by reading this book, they will learn a lot about the mob because the book covers the period from basically 1919, when the baseball World Series was fixed, up through the beginning of the 21st century and how the mob is still functioning, and what it is doing and what's staying under the radar."

"There was a lawyer that I know out in Westhampton, he is a former Assistant District Attorney for the Bronx County, and he prosecuted a lot of mob cases and public corruption cases being the head of the Rackets Bureau in the Bronx, and he told me how active the mob is and what the mob is still doing," Sussman added. "How now they consult lawyers before they do anything so that they remain under the radar so they aren't susceptible to the RICO statutes - because they are all terrified of that, because under the RICO statue, all the mafia bosses went away for the rest of their lives and none of them want to do that. At a time when they would normally go away for five or ten years and the saying amongst them was, 'I can do that time standing on my head,' but none of them want to stand on their heads for 100 years, so they are constantly talking to lawyers about how to avoid the possibility of being entrapped by the federal government."

Sussman is a graduate of New York University, where he majored in English and minored in film and education. He has one son, Rob Sussman, who was married to Ricki Lake.

He was born in New York City and his father was a well-known and respected garment manufacturer, thus also the source of some stories for the book. His mother was an official in public relations for the State of New York.

Jeffrey Sussman knows the history of the mob and now you can too. He will be taking part in a live East Hampton Library discussion about the book, via Zoom, on Wednesday, November 18 at 6:00 p.m.

To purchase Big Apple Gangsters: The Rise and Decline of the Mob in New York, visit www.amazon.com. For more information about East Hampton Library's book release event, live Via Zoom, Jeffrey Sussman, Big Apple Gangsters, visit easthamptonlibrary.org.

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