Gangland Summary
by Howard Blum

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(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

GANGLAND is a tale with several absorbing strands. Bruce Mouw, the newly appointed supervisor of the FBI’s Organized Crime unit, is assigned an insurmountable task: to bring down John Gotti, the head of New York’s Mafia underworld. To his dismay, Mouw finds the file on Gotti woefully thin. In the first strand, Mouw is shown developing a plan to fight Gotti. He also assembles C-16, an elite investigative team, to carry out the plan.

Another strand depicts Gotti’s rise to the top of the underworld. Gotti implements the shooting of Big Paul Castellano, the previous boss of bosses. He then engineers a vote that results in his being named as Castellano’s replacement. The ruthless Gotti executes competing bosses, insubordinate underlings, and even the hapless man who takes the life of his youngest son, Frankie, in an automobile accident. Blum’s narrative also illustrates Gotti’s uncanny knack for avoiding conviction on racketeering charges, a knack which earns him the nickname “The Teflon Don,” a man to whom charges never stick.

Gotti’s luck does not escape Mouw, who suspects the presence of a traitorous “mole” who feeds Gotti inside information. In the third strand, Mouw obsessively compiles evidence to confirm that the mole exists. Mouw’s subordinate, Andy Kurins, pieces the evidence together and identifies the mole. With the flow of inside information cut off, C-16 finally assembles enough evidence to arrest Gotti one last time.

GANGLAND offers a riveting look at the inner workings of the FBI as it struggles to build its case against Gotti from arrest through conviction. Bruce Mouw emerges as a man of desperate patience and craftiness, leading a group of true heroes in C-16. John Gotti, on the other hand, serves as a model of corrupt power finally getting what it deserves.