Following up on a recommendation from spootyjim a few weeks ago, I’ve decided to incorporate regular book threads into our routine here at RVS. Honestly, I think it will be good for me. I spend far too much time online on politics and other time-wasters, and I miss reading books. Maybe this will help motivate me to get going on some of the books on my queue. It might be good for you too!
I figure we can start off by discussing some of the books we’ve all read in recent weeks (or months) and make some recommendations. If it works out, perhaps we could begin a functioning book club and all read the same book and discuss it as we go? We’re a pretty literate bunch who read good. I think it make fun.
I’ll start off with the last book I finished. It was The Mafia and the Machine: The Story of the Kansas City Mob. I’ve lived in KC for almost my entire life (92% of it) and I confess that until I read this, I was almost totally ignorant about my cowtown’s wild, corrupt, and utterly fucking awesome history. This nonfiction work reads like Wiseguys in its narrative of a largely forgotten time and place.
Here there was a powerful Mafia organization closely aligned with New York’s and the operations in Las Vegas (as seen in Casino) and an effective political machine on par with Tammany Hall. The best explanation of the Union Station Massacre I’ve ever read is within it. Side note: I never realized that KC is the only part of the country in which you had such a strong collaboration among the most notorious criminals of the time. You had the worst crooks like the Mafia, of course, then there were the notable “gangsters” like Pretty Boy Floyd and Bonnie and Clyde and the Democratic Party all working together.
Had the Mafia had its way, the entire state of Missouri might have become a gigantic Las Vegas instead of the boring place we turned into (riverboat casinos aside). In particular, I liked learning about how Harry S Truman sprung from this Wild West environment and its merciless Machine and yet preserved his integrity and avoided even a whiff of corruption in his White House. I ended up respecting more for it.
I loved this book so much, I’m planning to buy copies for some of my relatives here in town and maybe a couple for some of my colleagues who come to KC on business periodically. Might pique their curiosity and get them to go and make a field trip to see some of the historic scenes described in the book. If you’re interested in nonfiction books about organized crime and want to expand on what you know about the influence of organized crime on politics and beyond New York and Chicago, this is a fantastic read.
This week, I swear I’ll get started on one of the three other books on my queue. There’s What the Hell Did I Just Read by David Wong, Win Bigly by Scott Adams, and An Inconvenient Deception by Somebody I can’t think of and I’m too lazy to look it up.
While I get going, does anyone have anything good to share?