In this review, The Veracity Report uses our unique, 8-part grading system to break down and evaluate all aspects of “Killing The Mob,” the 2021 bestselling sensation from Bill O-Reilly and Martin Dugard
This book covers the period in American history from the 1930s to the 1980s. In it, O’Reilly and Dugard begin with the prohibition-busting bank robbers of the Depression Era, such as John Dillinger, Bonnie & Clyde, Pretty Boy Floyd and Baby-Face Nelson.
Next, O’Reilly and Dugard spotlight the creation of the Mafia Commission, the power struggles within the “Five Families,” the growth of the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover, the mob battles to control Cuba, Las Vegas and Hollywood, and, as if that weren’t enough for one book, they highlight the personal war between the U.S. Attorney General Bobby Kennedy and legendary Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa.
Element 1: Overall Plot Completeness ( 0-12.5pts)
Being a non-fiction book, we don’t evaluate the plot so much as the ebb and flow of the storyline. For this book, while the story narrative is complete and well researched, I found that the authors digressed a bit too much and as a result, made the flow of the story just a little too herky-jerky.
This is particularly true in the earlier parts of the book which focuses on the more historical aspects of the longest dead notorious criminals. Still, I found the story, and particularly the well-researched historical aspects of it, to be fascinating, entertaining, and extremely informative.
I believe that even dedicated followers of the mob and notorious gangsters such as Dillinger, Bonnie & Clyde, Baby Face Nelson, and Pretty Boy Floyd, will learn something new after reading this book.
For these reasons, I give Killing The Mob 10 out of a possible 12.5 points for the storytelling element.
ELEMENT 2: Plot or Story Flow (0-12.5 Pts)
For much of the same reason as in element 1, I felt the narrative of the story was a bit more jagged than it needed to be. This is no way takes away from the quality of the writing, but it does detract a little from the final smoothness of the reading experience.
While I have no doubt that some people will like the fact that this book makes you stop reading at certain points and historically process what you just read with what you already knew (or thought you did), I like to reflect on this type of book after I’ve completed it, and I found that this book more so compels its readers to do this after certain of the more cerebral chapters.
For this reason, I give Killing The Mob 11.5 out of a possible 12.5 points for this element.
ELEMENT 3: Characterization (0-12.5)
Believe it or not, characterization is just as important in non-fiction as it is in fiction writing. Whether or not an author can manage to bring the lives of real people to life on a printed or digital page, is just as important, if not more so, than accomplishing that feat for imaginary people.
In this case, O’Reilly and Dugard do a magnificent job of putting their readers inside the heads of their subjects, often making notorious gangsters just as emotionally compelling and sympathetic as their victims.
This is not an easy thing to do for any writer. The fact that these two pull it off so seamlessly in this book is, in my opinion, what really brings this read to life and makes the words jump off the page.
For that reason, I give Killing the Mob a perfect 12.5 score for this element.
ELEMENT 4: Dialogue (0-12.5
While it’s true, there usually isn’t a lot of dialogue within non-fiction books, O’Reilly and Dugard manage to get some in here in the form of live action historical quotes from persons involved in the action of certain chapters.
I found the concept to be different and refreshing, but I could also see where others might try this technique, so I wouldn’t be too quick to try it myself, or recommend any other author use it. Be that as it may, what characterization there was in this book was very well crafted made sense.
For those reasons, I give Killing The Mob a perfect 12.5 score for this element.
ELEMENT 5: Structure of the Book
This is where I felt the book lost some points. While the sections of the book where the authors spent time in focus, were nothing short of brilliant, I thought the authors choices of gangsters and deviations from traditional gangsters to what I can only call fringe Mafioso at best, did the overall book some disservice.
Personally, I would have much rather seen a higher word count dedicated to the more notorious gangsters of the modern era such as Paul Castellano and the whirlwind surrounding his murder.
I also would have liked to have seen a few less pages dedicated to the trove of conspiracies surrounding the assassination of John F Kennedy, and more about the crazy life of Jimmy Hoffa, as well as the rise of his son, James Hoffa, Jr..
For these reasons, I give Killing The Mob 10.5 points for this element.
ELEMENT 6: Skill of the Author
Many people try to debate that evaluating the skill of an author, or, in this case, more than one author, is largely suppositional and a matter of personal taste, however, that’s not really true.
One of the biggest parts of being a professional writer is first to understand the rules of the English language, grammar, syntax, and usage, also known as diction. The second part quickly becomes knowing which of these rules an author can take the literary license to break and which ones they can’t without demonstrating a lack of skill.
For example, and author that doesn’t understand verb agreements is not a skilled writer, no matter how great their underlying idea is.
In the case of this book, both authors demonstrate great skill in their use of the language, as well as numerous techniques for making it malleable. I could not find any flaw in the presentation or in the skill used in deploying it.
For this reason, I give Killing The Mob 12.5 points for this element.
ELEMENT 7: Factual and/or Historical Correctness
While it goes without saying that this element is critical to the validity and success of a historically centered non-fiction book such as this one, it is also extremely import for me to stress here that these elements are also vital in works of fiction.
Personally, I am of the belief that every book you read, whether fiction or non-fiction, should teach you something you didn’t know. That means that even fiction authors have the responsibility of conveying factual information in the course of presenting their fiction.
For example, would Stephen King’s bestselling book still have been a success if it were titled 11/24/63? Or if he had claimed the slain president’s name was John Fitzpatrick Kennedy?
The answer is no. The book would have been disregarded and dismissed outright, particularly by anyone familiar enough with history to immediately know the information being presented to them as factual, was in fact inaccurate, without the author explaining that they had to take a certain amount of factual literary license to coalesce the fictional part of the story.
In this case, I found nothing in the factual or historical narratives that jumped out at me as being wrong. That doesn’t mean that someone with a Ph.D. in history wouldn’t spot an error or two, but the main goal I always ask is, would the average person know it was an error?
For this book, that answer has to be no. I don’t believe there are any glaring factual or historical errors that someone who is not an expert in the field would promptly recognize as being false.
For that reason, I give Killing The Mob 12.5 points for this section.
ELEMENT 8: Overall Reader Euphoria
The question: how much did this book leave me wanting more?
For this particular book, the answer is a mixed bag. Having always been fascinated by organized crime and galvanized by the unmitigated gall of many of the world’s most notorious mobsters, the book had a certain allure for me before I ever picked it up. Further, once I did begin reading it, I found many aspects of it to be incredible even beyond my expectations, such as the entire narrative of Bonnie & Clyde, which I absolutely loved! By far, my favorite part of this book.
Yet, as I’ve alluded to in the evaluations for other elements, the scant few places where this book left me flat, it really left me flat.
So, to answer the question honestly, I must answer it like this; I was, and still am, a very big fan of O’Reilly’s Killing Series. I absolutely will not hesitate to read all of the rest of them, and I am not disappointed that I bought or read this one, I just would have liked to have seen it done a little differently.
Because of this, I give Killing The Mob 11 points for this element.
SUMMARY & CONCLUSION
In case you didn’t know, this book is a highly detailed book, all about mobsters. For that reason alone, it’s a great book. I am firm believer that very few people could read this book, even the most ardent organized crime fans, and not come away with having learned something they didn’t already know.
My biggest, and really only major complaint is the authors’ choice of which mobsters to zoom in on in much greater detail than others. If that can be a criticism, it really is the worst one I have.
If you’re looking for a heavy dose of brutality and extortion, you’ve come to the right place if you pick up a copy of Killing The Mob, which I’ve given an aggregate score of 93. I have no doubt you will enjoy it, I know I sure did.
This book report was evaluated by Investigative Journalist Brooklyn Lassiter - Because the Truth Matters!
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