Read Cigar City Mafia: A Complete History of the Tampa Underworld by Scott M. Deitche Free Online
Book Title: Cigar City Mafia: A Complete History of the Tampa Underworld|
The author of the book: Scott M. Deitche
ISBN 13: 9781569802878
Edition: Barricade Books
Date of issue: May 31st 2005
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 13.17 MB
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Reader ratings: 4.1
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Some less than cautious copy editing from a small press can frustrate the reader from time to time, but it doesn't get in the way of a good story told by Deitche, who has spent several years researching organized crime on Florida's west coast. The book tries to transcend, but is till burdened by, the larger than life image of the Trafficante family, their influence exaggerated both by their decades at the center of Tampa Mafia operations, and by the tenuous ties Santo Trafficante Jr. had to CIA Cuba escapades, the JFK assassination, and to Frank Sinatra.
Deitche is astute enough to tell us that even in the height of the Trafficante years, the son was living off the faded glory of his father, who helped form gambling, bootlegging, and drug rings in Tampa from the 1920s through 1940s. Trafficante the son was an important don, to be sure, but his actual importance vs. lesser-known thugs was often exaggerated in the media.
Deitche's book is interesting for reminding the reader that the Mafia's role in Chicago and New York usually takes front and center attention, but lesser cities like Tampa, Cleveland, Detroit, and Denver were equally important to study. The Tampa organized crime scene, oddly enough, was more coherent than Miami's, at least until Cuban exiles and South American bigwigs took over Miami in the 1990s, because in earlier decades Miami was considered a no man's land, where no particular crime family held dominance. Yet at the end of the book, Deitche shows how the Trafficante family was tied into Steve Raffa and other Miami locals to make the larger Miami metro area a virtual subsidiary to Tampa.
The book provides an interesting historical look at the Ybor City area of Tampa, which became an organized crime mecca after drawing Italian and Cuban immigrants to work in the cigar factories. While we often remember the ultra-violence favored by Al Capone and his family in the 1920s, Deitche reminds us that all cities with a significant Mafia presence were extremely violent places in the 1930s and 1940s, where drive-by shootings using sawed-off shotguns were the modus operandi. The terror of the gang wars during those decades led to the later professionalization of the Mafia, to focus on hidden killings (like that of Jimmy Hoffa), and eventually fraudulent penetration of legitimate businesses, where outright murder became less common.
Deitche carves his mid-length book into nearly 50 chapters, which makes for short snapshots of crime actions, perfect for casual reading on the beach in Tampa/St. Pete when the red tide isn't present. Alternatively, he might have woven his information into longer chapters to provide more interpretation of what organized crime's evolution meant to Tampa. As it stands, however, Cigar City Mafia is loaded with fascinating tales of organized crime reaching back nearly a century in Tampa's history.
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