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The Black Hand

Cover of The Black Hand

The Black Hand

The Epic War Between a Brilliant Detective and the Deadliest Secret Society in American History
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The gripping true story of the origins of the mafia in America—and the brilliant Italian-born detective who gave his life to stop it

*Film rights optioned by Paramount Studios, starring Leonardo DiCaprio*
Beginning in the summer of 1903, an insidious crime wave filled New York City, and then the entire country, with fear. The children of Italian immigrants were kidnapped, and dozens of innocent victims were gunned down. Bombs tore apart tenement buildings. Judges, senators, Rockefellers, and society matrons were threatened with gruesome deaths. The perpetrators seemed both omnipresent and invisible. Their only calling card: the symbol of a black hand. The crimes whipped up the slavering tabloid press and heated ethnic tensions to the boiling point. Standing between the American public and the Black Hand's lawlessness was Joseph Petrosino. Dubbed the "Italian Sherlock Holmes," he was a famously dogged and ingenious detective, and a master of disguise. As the crimes grew ever more bizarre and the Black Hand's activities spread far beyond New York's borders, Petrosino and the all-Italian police squad he assembled raced to capture members of the secret criminal society before the country's anti-immigrant tremors exploded into catastrophe. Petrosino's quest to root out the source of the Black Hand's power would take him all the way to Sicily—but at a terrible cost.

Unfolding a story rich with resonance in our own era, The Black Hand is fast-paced narrative history at its very best.

The gripping true story of the origins of the mafia in America—and the brilliant Italian-born detective who gave his life to stop it

*Film rights optioned by Paramount Studios, starring Leonardo DiCaprio*
Beginning in the summer of 1903, an insidious crime wave filled New York City, and then the entire country, with fear. The children of Italian immigrants were kidnapped, and dozens of innocent victims were gunned down. Bombs tore apart tenement buildings. Judges, senators, Rockefellers, and society matrons were threatened with gruesome deaths. The perpetrators seemed both omnipresent and invisible. Their only calling card: the symbol of a black hand. The crimes whipped up the slavering tabloid press and heated ethnic tensions to the boiling point. Standing between the American public and the Black Hand's lawlessness was Joseph Petrosino. Dubbed the "Italian Sherlock Holmes," he was a famously dogged and ingenious detective, and a master of disguise. As the crimes grew ever more bizarre and the Black Hand's activities spread far beyond New York's borders, Petrosino and the all-Italian police squad he assembled raced to capture members of the secret criminal society before the country's anti-immigrant tremors exploded into catastrophe. Petrosino's quest to root out the source of the Black Hand's power would take him all the way to Sicily—but at a terrible cost.

Unfolding a story rich with resonance in our own era, The Black Hand is fast-paced narrative history at its very best.

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  • Publisher's Weekly

    March 13, 2017
    Talty (Black Irish) spins a gripping tale in this true crime account of one man’s crusade to combat organized crime in early-20th-century New York City. His hero is Joseph Petrosino, one of the first Italian-Americans hired by the New York Police Department, who ultimately sacrificed his life in an effort to defeat the Black Hand, an Italian organized crime group that terrorized the city through its kidnappings of children, extortions, and murders. Talty anchors the arc of Petrosino’s career in 1883, when the man who became known as the Italian Sherlock Holmes was just 23 years old. His diligence and extraordinary memory led to a rapid ascent within the force, and by 1904 he was leading a squad within the NYPD to combat the Black Hand. Petrosino was murdered while on assignment in Sicily in 1909; the depth of his impact and popularity was manifested by a turnout of over 250,000 people for his funeral. Talty’s fast-moving and well-constructed narrative gives the law enforcement hero and pioneer the recognition he deserves.

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The Black Hand
The Black Hand
The Epic War Between a Brilliant Detective and the Deadliest Secret Society in American History
Stephan Talty
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