Commentary Magazine


"Paterson"

To the Editor:

In his review of my book, Black Mafia: Ethnic Succession in Organized Crime [Books in Review, February], B. Bruce-Briggs concludes that the evidence I offer does not support my thesis of changing control in organized crime. It is, of course, always possible for two or more analysts to look at the same evidence and reach different conclusions, but I think there is some question as to the care with which Mr. Bruce-Briggs examined my evidence in this case. In the second paragraph of his review, he identifies one of the crime networks I describe as follows: “. . . a single organization in ‘Patterson’ (all individual names are fictional; one must assume that places are too). . . .” After reading the review, I re-examined my book (and the paperback edition as well) and I cannot find the spelling “Patterson” anywhere. Neither can I find any reason why one must assume the place names are fictional since I state quite clearly in the introduction that they are real and spend some fifteen pages identifying and describing the city of Paterson, New Jersey, its demography, its history, its political role as the county seat of Passaic County, and nowhere do I call it anything other than Paterson. Even the chapter in which the material appears is called “Paterson, New Jersey.” I find Mr. Bruce-Briggs’s assumption that “Patterson” is fictional all the more astounding since he is identified in the author’s note as someone who is writing a book on (of all things) the future of cities.

Francis A. J. Ianni
Columbia University
New York City

_____________

 

Mr. Bruce-Briggs writes:

Since no one has a complete picture of a private activity such as organized crime, the publishing of precise information is evidence of the source of the information. For this reason, police and intelligence organizations are loath to let it be known what they know, lest the other side learn who informed them. Since Black Mafia describes a capable and ruthless criminal organization in sufficient detail to be helpful to police and competitors, “one must assume” that “Paterson” is a cover name; the alternative interpretations are that the entire account is fictitious, or that the author has been dangerously irresponsible in risking life and limb of his informants.

_____________

About the Author




Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.