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The Black Hand - Stephan Talty

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Briefing

Talty is an excellent storyteller, and this particular story is highly relevant as America’s next set of immigrants struggles for acceptance.”—Kirkus Reviews

In his riveting new history of the origins of the mafia in America, Stephan Talty delves into an unexplored episode in America’s past, one rich with resonance in our own era. THE BLACK HAND: The Epic War Between a Brilliant Detective and the Deadliest Secret Society in American History (publication date: April 25, 2017) transports readers to the turn of the century when ethnic tensions ran high, cities were hotbeds of corruption, and a bold young immigrant, Joseph Petrosino, tackled it all to become the most brilliant detective of the 20th century. Paramount Pictures has acquired film rights, with Leonardo DiCaprio set to produce and star.

Beginning in the summer of 1903, an insidious crime wave filled New York City with fear. The children of Italian immigrants were kidnapped, innocent victims were gunned down, and bombs tore apart tenement buildings. The perpetrators seemed both omnipresent and invisible. Their only calling card: the symbol of a black hand. The crimes whipped up the 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. As the crimes grew ever more bizarre and the Black Hand’s activities spread far beyond New York’s borders, Petrosino 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.

A fast-paced story of mystery, terror, sacrifice, and honor in turn-of-the-century America, THE BLACK HAND also “strike[s] a chord close to home these days” (Kirkus Reviews) with its timely focus on immigration. As Talty explains, “The reaction to the Black Hand was that America essentially had a panic attack about immigration, and it follows rather eerily the contours of the debate we’re having today.”

About the Author

STEPHAN TALTY is the award-winning author of Agent Garbo, Empire of Blue Water, and other best-selling works of narrative nonfiction. His books have been made into two films, the Oscar-winning Captain Phillips and Granite Mountain. He is also the author of two psychological thrillers, including the New York Times bestseller Black Irish, set in his hometown of Buffalo. He has written for the New York Times Magazine, GQ, and many other publications. Talty now lives outside New York City with his family.

 

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