Tag Archives: Federal Bureau of Investigation

REFORM, v. A thing that mostly satisfies reformers opposed to reformation… Ambrose Bierce

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Sin in the Second City : madams, ministers, playboys, and the battle for America’s soul  Karen Abbott  New York : Random House, 2007  Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. xxiv, 356 p. : ill. ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [331]-339) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

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Step into the perfumed parlors of the Everleigh Club, the most famous brothel in American history – and the catalyst for a culture war that rocked the nation. Operating in Chicago’s notorious Levee district at the dawn of the 20th century, the Club’s proprietors, two aristocratic sisters named Minna and Ada Everleigh, welcomed moguls and actors, senators and athletes, foreign dignitaries and literary icons, into their stately double mansion, where thirty stunning Everleigh “butterflies” awaited their arrival. Courtesans named Doll, Suzy Poon Tang, and Brick Top devoured raw meat to the delight of Prince Henry of Prussia and recited poetry for Theodore Dreiser. Whereas lesser madams pocketed most of a harlot’s earnings and kept a “whipper” on staff to mete out discipline, the Everleighs made sure their girls dined on gourmet food, were examined by an honest physician, and even tutored in the literature of Balzac.

Group of children playing on the stoop of a house next to a reputed house of prostitution.

Group of children playing on the stoop of a house next to a reputed house of prostitution.

Not everyone appreciated the sisters’ attempts to elevate the industry. Rival Levee madams hatched numerous schemes to ruin the Everleighs, including an attempt to frame them for the death of department store heir Marshall Field, Jr. But the sisters’ most daunting foes were the Progressive Era reformers, who sent the entire country into a frenzy with lurid tales of “white slavery” — the allegedly rampant practice of kidnapping young girls and forcing them into brothels. This furor shaped America’s sexual culture and had repercussions all the way to the White House, including the formation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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With a cast of characters that includes Jack Johnson, John Barrymore, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., William Howard Taft, “Hinky Dink” Kenna, and Al Capone, Sin in the Second City is Karen Abbott’s colorful, nuanced portrait of the iconic Everleigh sisters, their world-famous Club, and the perennial clash between our nation’s hedonistic impulses and Puritanical roots. Culminating in a dramatic last stand between brothel keepers and crusading reformers, Sin in the Second City offers a vivid snapshot of America’s journey from Victorian-era propriety to twentieth-century modernity.

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I have learned to hate all traitors, and there is no disease that I spit on more than treachery… Aeschylus

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This is a strange biography of a strange – but unfortunately not uncommon – man. Just as Hannah Arendt would classify Eichmann as the banality of evil so to this insignificant little chemist helped perpetuate the largest violation of human rights in the 20th century – Communism. Part of what makes the biography strange is that it does not hold its subject up to the condemnation he so richly deserves – if justice had been served he and Hiss and the rest would have been put to death with the Rosenbergs for high treason. We are certain that part of this is the biographer’s desire to rehabilitate his subject and whether his motives are political or otherwise is not disclosed. The other part of it may be the relatively short attention span of the American public and something of the naiveté that will not allow many of us to believe that anyone is as black as he is painted.

Part of the necessity for understanding the Soviet penetration of the United States is to understand how far back it goes and how deep it is. In 1924 Armand Hammer helped establish Amtorg Trading Corporation a combination of Products Exchange Corporation (organized in 1919) and Arcos-America Inc [All Russian Co-operative Society](organized in 1923) – in other words before Lenin had a firm grasp on Russia he was doing business here. Amtorg gave the Soviets entre before FDR’s recognition of the Soviet Union in 1933 allowed them the facilities of an embassy.

They wasted no time sending Haik Badalovich Ovakimian to the United States who ran the Golos spy ring credited with the assassination of Leon Trotsky and the recruitment of Thomas Lessing Black who, in turn, recruited Harry Gold who became the bag man for British spy Claus Fuchs supplying the Soviets with the atomic bomb secrets. In 1939 Ovakimian became chief of scientific intelligence in the United States while studying for a doctorate in chemistry at a New York University. He was arrested during May 1941 by the FBI but after the German invasion of the Soviet Union he was sent back to Moscow and left the United States in July 1941. Ovakimian there became head of the NKVD’s American desk responsible for espionage by Soviet agents within the United States including Harry Dexter White. In 1946 he left the NKVD to engage in full-time work as a chemical engineer and was responsible for the  development of their chemical arsenal in the 1950’s.

Amtorg continued in business committing industrial espionage with seeming impunity and they were still in business in 2000 [for those of you who thought the Soviet Union ended in 1989]. When a group fighting for the rights of Jews to emigrate from Russia attacked their offices in 1971 and 1976 they were labeled domestic terrorists. Meanwhile Armand Hammer – named for the arm and hammer graphic symbol of the Socialist Labor Party – a son of a founding member of the Communist Party USA who himself was so economically tied to the Soviet regime that everything that came out of Occidental Petroleum in Los Angeles sounded like it came from some Bolshevik picking up his orders from Yegg Central. Is it any wonder that someone who was part of all of this would need rehabilitation? The only wonder is that he should receive it!

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The invisible Harry Gold: the man who gave the Soviets the atom bomb New Haven: Yale University Press, c 2010 Allen M. Hornblum Espionage, Soviet United States History Hardcover. 1st. ed. and printing. xiv, 446 p., [16] p. of plates: ill.; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

In the history of Soviet espionage in America, few people figure more crucially than Harry Gold. A Russian Jewish immigrant who spied for the Soviets from 1935 until 1950, Gold was an accomplished industrial and military espionage agent. He was assigned to be physicist Klaus Fuchs’s “handler” and ultimately conveyed sheaves of stolen information about the Manhattan Project from Los Alamos to Russian agents. He is literally the man who gave the USSR the plans for the atom bomb.

The subject of the most intensive public manhunt in the history of the FBI, Gold was arrested in May 1950. His confession revealed scores of contacts, and his testimony in the trial of the Rosenbergs proved pivotal. Yet among his co-workers, fellow prisoners at Lewisburg Penitentiary, and even those in the FBI, Gold earned respect, admiration, and affection.

In The Invisible Harry Gold, journalist Allen Hornblum paints a surprising portrait of this notorious yet unknown figure. Through interviews with many individuals who knew Gold and years of research into primary documents, Hornblum has produced a gripping account of how a fundamentally decent and well-intentioned man helped commit the greatest scientific theft of the twentieth century.

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…narcotics, terrorism, world crime movements, and organized crime are worldwide problems that don’t stop at a nation’s borders… Warren Christopher

The trade routes haven’t changed in over 100 years. From the southern border north in a flood, from the northern border south in a steady flow and through major ports in fits and starts illegal drugs flow into this country. The suppliers haven’t changed – drug lords who own governments and governments who own drug lords, impossible to distinguish which is which – the distributors have not changed, low-level expendable petty criminals too numerous to even keep track of let alone manage. What has changed is the profits. Once a sideline for organized crime that was subsidiary to gambling, extortion, prostitution and loan sharking the drug trade now rivals and even surpasses many Fortune 500 companies.

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With this new-found success it is too important of a matter to be left to organized crime. In a world where established fortunes disappear overnight there must be an inflation proof source of replenishment. In a world where revolutions in the third world can not be financed through public means by the governments of the first world there must be a source of funding. Eliott Ness was very successful against Al Capone in Chicago – when he threatened to continue that success against an establishment family he truly became untouchable. The FBN – and especially its demise – seem to be proof of John Harrington’s epigram, Treason doth never prosper, what’s the reason? For if it prosper, none dare call it Treason. A truly interesting book that raises as many questions as it answers.

The strength of the wolf: the secret history of America’s war on drugs London : Verso, 2004 Douglas Valentine United States Bureau of Narcotics, Drug traffic Investigation United States  History Hardcover. 1st. ed. and printing. 554 p.; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG  

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The Strength of the Wolf is the first complete history of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN), which existed from 1930 until its wrenching termination in 1968.

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The most successful federal law enforcement agency ever, the FBN was populated by some of the most amazing characters in American history, many of whom the author interviewed for this book. Working as undercover agents and with mercenary informers around the globe, these freewheeling “case making” agents penetrated the Mafia and the French connection, breaking all the rules in the process, and uncovering the Establishment’s ties to organized crime.


Targeted by the FBI and the CIA, the case-makers were, ironically, victims of their own fabulous success in hunting down society’s predators. An incredible, never-before-told story, The Strength of the Wolf provides a new, exciting, and revealing look at an important chapter in American history.

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