Megan Harlan
February 09, 1996 AT 05:00 AM EST

Perfect Villains, Imperfect Heroes: Robert F. Kennedy's War Against Organized Crime

Current Status
In Season
Ronald Goldfarb
Random House
Politics and Current Events, Nonfiction

We gave it an A-

Says Ronald Goldfarb of one RFK-era Mob bust: ”This melodrama was better than a movie thriller.” No kidding. In the chilling memoir Perfect Villains, Imperfect Heroes: Robert F. Kennedy’s War Against Organized Crime, Goldfarb recounts his life as a legal whiz kid in Attorney General Robert Kennedy’s pet law enforcement division, Organized Crime and Racketeering — the group that exposed and prosecuted the Mafia in America. He weaves together candid biographical snapshots of an ”avid, intense, witty” RFK; suspenseful courtroom drama in which impassioned young lawyers took on criminal overlords like Hoffa and Giancana; inside-scoop vignettes about gambling syndicates, shylocking, and drug trafficking; creepy cameos by Frank Sinatra and Fidel Castro; and payoffs, blood oaths, and violent vendettas worthy of any Godfather movie. All of this leads up to a bang-up finale: Citing patriarch Joe Kennedy’s lifetime of playing both sides of the Mob coin, Goldfarb makes a very educated guess as to who masterminded both Kennedy assassinations. A smart, spine-tingling fusion of history, true crime, and conspiracy theory.

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