Tuesday, March 19, 2013

This is a twisted American coming of age Mafia story, typical and yet completely original--no one could make it up.

This is a twisted American coming of age Mafia story, typical and yet completely original--no one could make it up. Barboza is a boy who grew up in New Bedford, Mass of a poor family, who worked on the docks.  He aspired to join the Mafia, his heroes. Though he's Portugese, not Sicilian, he thinks he can get into the Cosa Nostra by doing "better" than those born to the life  (allegedly 26 murders).  

Unlike a lot of true-crime, Mafia stories, which revel in sensationalism,  Sherman addresses the humanity of the psychopath.  The man called ANIMAL  hates violence against women.  As a babe, protected in his mother's arms, he witnessed his  father beating her.  And Barboza, in all his insane murders, never hurts women.  In fact,  he loves his family and tries to protect them.  

But the troubled teen sent to reform school for petty theft, emerges from abuse there, as a hardened criminal.  Barboza, who wanted to escape his violent father, becomes hardened into a life of violence.  He became the #1 hit man in the bloodiest mob war in American history (57 men murdered in 3 years!). The Mafia called him ANIMAL and thought of him as a blunt instrument.  Then, increasingly, as he's denied  acceptance, Barboza became a  liability. The mob, who can't control him, decided to take him down. 

 ANIMAL details what happened when they hunted Barboza.  Boston's most notorious contract killer, made a deal with two corrupt FBI agents that changed the criminal justice system forever.  ANIMAL shows how the Federal government created with Barboza a narrative of false testimony to prosecute New England's most powerful organized crime figures. His success meant five men went to prison for a murder they did not commit. Later this led to the largest settlement against the US Justice Dept in History.

To protect their star witness, the first gangster to testify against the Mafia,  the FBI created the Witness Protection Program.  They kept him on an island in Boston harbor, where the Mob tracked him, then in sleepy Santa Rosa.  But once a killer, always a killer;  Barboza killed a person and was returned to prison. Finally, after a decade on the run,  he was gunned down in broad daylight in San Francisco.  

The pressure to bring down the mob was so great that sworn enemies,  RFK & Hoover, created the FBI's Top Echelon Informant Program to employ the same illegal methods as the mob! Unbelievable but true that lawmen compromisd their integrity.   If you want to know about the Whitey Bulger case, how the FBI allowed a Mob Boss to operate for 15 years, this precursor has answers--and new information.

S.W.