Friday, February 15, 2019

Advance Praise for MAFIA SPIES by Thomas Maier, https://amzn.to/2Gjk50W

   "Enormously fun ... Succeeds brilliantly." -- Booklist (starred review).  "This is a standout in the field of spy nonfiction. Fans of The Godfather movies and of spy novels in general will love how Maier portrays the ties between Sinatra and Giancana, the lush mobster weddings, and the intricate web of deception that drew so many, including Marilyn Monroe, into the mix. Maier succeeds brilliantly here in bringing this outrageous, long-hidden (if rumored) bit of history to vivid and fact-supported life." 

Michael Connelly, #1 NYT bestselling author and creator of Amazon's "Bosch"
“Just when you think you’ve read and heard everything there is to know about the CIA, JFK and the mob, along comes Thomas Maier with this meticulously researched and nuanced report that sets the record straight in some areas and breaks new ground in others. Mafia Spies reads like a thriller but its all true. I found it gripping from page one. And important. The events reported on here changed history and give us better understanding of current times.”

“Mafia Spies is one of those stories that is truly more amazing than fiction, about an unlikely alliance between America’s best and worst.  The tale is told at a relentless pace and makes great reading.”
- Scott Turow, bestselling author of Presumed Innocent, The Burden of Proof, Identical, Innocent and more

"Mafia Spies brings history to life in epic, page-turning fashion. The depth of Thomas Maier's research is astounding, as are the famous characters and fantastical events that quietly changed US history." -- Martin Dugard, the New York Times bestselling co-author  of Killing Lincoln, Killing Kennedy, Killing Jesus, and others written with noted television personality Bill O'Reilly.

"From CIA secret labs creating assassination tools first dreamed up by Ian Fleming in his James Bond novels, to poisoned cigars, exploding cats, Frank Sinatra, and two of the most well-connected mafioso in gangland history, Thomas Maier’s Mafia Spies is a revealing look into one of the most outrageous spy tales of the 20th Century. If you are unfamiliar with Sam Giancana and Johnny Roselli, and their connection to everyone from low-life mob hucksters to JFK, this is a book that will open your eyes to a world of political intrigue that reaches into the depths and heights of mid-twentieth century American culture.  Maier’s knowledge of politics and of gangland lore is impressive, and he uses it here to great effect in Mafia Spies, a work that reads like a novel but is, amazingly, a nonfiction tale of mobsters working for the CIA to assassinate Fidel Castro. If Mario Puzo were more interested in journalism than fiction, this unrelenting page turner is the book he would have written instead of The Godfather.
--Ed Falco, author of the NY Times best seller, The Family Corleone


The United States doesn’t order foreign leaders killed. Unless it does. And it did in l960 when the CIA took the unthinkable step of recruiting two Mafiosi – Sam Giancana and Johnny Roselli -- to murder Cuban Premier Fidel Castro. The existence of this misbegotten plot was exposed in the l970s during Senate hearings after the assassination of JFK, but we’ve been
denied a full accounting until now. Drawing upon documents recently released by the National Archives, Thomas Maier spins a vigorously picaresque tale of the hoodlums and their handlers
as they make run after failed run at the Cuban premiere with such lunatic ploys as exploding cigars and contaminated scuba gear. Castro’s crack intelligence network in Miami allowed him to
dodge every bullet. The strength of Maier’s account is that he delivers such richly detailed profiles of the players that they seem to unfold in three dimensions. Often frightening, at times
hilarious, this is a cautionary tale for anyone thinking it might be a good idea to “outsource” intelligence operations. Mafia Spies is a bracing read and I enjoyed it thoroughly.”
-- Teresa Carpenter, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of four books, including “Mob Girl: A Woman's Life in the Underworld.”

"This story exposes a dark chapter in America’s history, when the CIA teamed up with murderous Mafia hitmen in an ill-fated assassination plot.  Thoroughly reported and masterfully written, Maier delves deep into a world of political intrigue and underworld brutality. It’s a riveting, must-read." -- Shelley Murphy, co-author of the New York Times best-seller “Whitey Bulger: America’s Most Wanted Gangster and the Manhunt That Brought Him to Justice.”

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

"Enormously fun ... MAFIA SPIES is a standout in the field of spy nonfiction"- Booklist (starred review)

  "Enormously fun ... This is a standout in the field of spy nonfiction. Fans of The Godfather movies and of spy novels in general will love how Maier portrays the ties between Sinatra and Giancana, the lush mobster weddings, and the intricate web of deception that drew so many, including Marilyn Monroe, into the mix. Maier succeeds brilliantly here in bringing this outrageous, long-hidden (if rumored) bit of history to vivid and fact-supported life." -- Booklist (starred review). 


BOOKLIST
Advanced Review – Uncorrected Proof
Issue: March 1, 2019

* Mafia Spies: The Inside Story of the CIA, Gangsters, JFK, and Castro.
By Thomas Maier
Apr. 2019. 440p. Skyhorse, $25.99
   This is a standout in the field of spy nonfiction. Maier, a Newsday investigative journalist for 30 years, uses a slew of documents (including the National Archives’ recently declassified files about the Kennedy assassination, along with sworn court testimony, congressional hearings, and CIA and FBI documents) to make what is a totally credible case that two gangsters worked with the CIA in the early 1960s to try to assassinate Fidel Castro. Not only does Maier give beyond-solid evidence for the strange alliance of politicians, mobsters, movie stars, entertainers, and Cuban-exile commandos in Miami seeking to bring down Castro, he also makes the whole book crystal clear (a rarity in spy nonfiction) and enormously fun. The focus is on Hollywood/Las Vegas gangster Johnny Roselli and Chicago Mob boss Sam Giancana, longtime friends made spies by the CIA. Fans of The Godfather movies and of spy novels in general will love how Maier portrays the ties between Sinatra and Giancana, the lush mobster weddings, and the intricate web of deception that drew so many, including Marilyn Monroe, into the mix. Maier includes fascinating details, like plans for exploding cigars, poisons, and drive-by shootings from speedboats. Nothing was off-limits when it came to this CIA-mobster plot. Maier succeeds brilliantly here in bringing this outrageous, long-hidden (if rumored) bit of history to vivid and fact-supported life.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

MAFIA SPIES -- Blurb Endorsements for New CIA Spy Thriller about Two Gangsters Recruited to Kill Castro

“Just when you think you’ve read and heard everything there is to know about the CIA, JFK and the mob, along comes Thomas Maier with this meticulously researched and nuanced report that sets the record straight in some areas and breaks new ground in others. Mafia Spies reads like a thriller but its all true. I found it gripping from page one. And important. The events reported on here changed history and give us better understanding of current times.” -- Michael Connelly, #1 NYT bestselling author and creator of Amazon's "Bosch".

     My name is Thomas Maier, the author of several books, including most recently WHEN LIONS ROAR: The Churchills and the Kennedys for Crown. My 2009 book, MASTERS OF SEX, became an award-winning Showtime series starring Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan. 
     My new book is called MAFIA SPIES – – a non-fiction thriller about two gangsters hired by the CIA to kill Fidel Castro – – optioned by Warner Bros. Television. Here’s a preview summary on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Mafia-Spies-Inside-Gangsters-Castro/dp/1510741712 
      Despite it brassy title, MAFIA SPIES is a serious nonfiction book about America’s first attempt at state-sanctioned political assassination -- the CIA-acknowledged attempt to kill Castro with the help of mobsters Sam Giancana and Johnny Roselli, the book's two main protagonists. It takes advantage of recently released National Archives files, which I wrote about in Politico last year, and speaks to many concerns in our current Trump era.
      MAFIA SPIES will be published on April 2. While novelists such as Don DeLillo, Norman Mailer and James Ellroy have speculated about this era, the newly-released National Archives records now provide the opportunity, as Michael Connelly suggests, to tell the full true-life story.
       Many thanks for your consideration! 
       Yours truly, Thomas Maier



Praise for MAFIA SPIES by Thomas Maier

“Mafia Spies is one of those stories that is truly more amazing than fiction, about an unlikely alliance between America’s best and worst.  The tale is told at a relentless pace and makes great reading.”
- Scott Turow, bestselling author of Presumed Innocent, The Burden of Proof, Identical, Innocent and more

"Mafia Spies brings history to life in epic, page-turning fashion. The depth of Thomas Maier's research is astounding, as are the famous characters and fantastical events that quietly changed US history." -- Martin Dugard, the New York Times bestselling co-author  of Killing Lincoln, Killing Kennedy, Killing Jesus, and others written with noted television personality Bill O'Reilly.

"From CIA secret labs creating assassination tools first dreamed up by Ian Fleming in his James Bond novels, to poisoned cigars, exploding cats, Frank Sinatra, and two of the most well-connected mafioso in gangland history, Thomas Maier’s Mafia Spies is a revealing look into one of the most outrageous spy tales of the 20th Century. If you are unfamiliar with Sam Giancana and Johnny Roselli, and their connection to everyone from low-life mob hucksters to JFK, this is a book that will open your eyes to a world of political intrigue that reaches into the depths and heights of mid-twentieth century American culture.  Maier’s knowledge of politics and of gangland lore is impressive, and he uses it here to great effect in Mafia Spies, a work that reads like a novel but is, amazingly, a nonfiction tale of mobsters working for the CIA to assassinate Fidel Castro. If Mario Puzo were more interested in journalism than fiction, this unrelenting page turner is the book he would have written instead of The Godfather.
--Ed Falco, author of the NY Times best seller, The Family Corleone


The United States doesn’t order foreign leaders killed. Unless it does. And it did in l960 when the CIA took the unthinkable step of recruiting two Mafiosi – Sam Giancana and Johnny Roselli -- to murder Cuban Premier Fidel Castro. The existence of this misbegotten plot was exposed in the l970s during Senate hearings after the assassination of JFK, but we’ve been
denied a full accounting until now. Drawing upon documents recently released by the National Archives, Thomas Maier spins a vigorously picaresque tale of the hoodlums and their handlers
as they make run after failed run at the Cuban premiere with such lunatic ploys as exploding cigars and contaminated scuba gear. Castro’s crack intelligence network in Miami allowed him to
dodge every bullet. The strength of Maier’s account is that he delivers such richly detailed profiles of the players that they seem to unfold in three dimensions. Often frightening, at times
hilarious, this is a cautionary tale for anyone thinking it might be a good idea to “outsource” intelligence operations. Mafia Spies is a bracing read and I enjoyed it thoroughly.”
-- Teresa Carpenter, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of four books, including “Mob Girl: A Woman's Life in the Underworld.”

"This story exposes a dark chapter in America’s history, when the CIA teamed up with murderous Mafia hitmen in an ill-fated assassination plot.  Thoroughly reported and masterfully written, Maier delves deep into a world of political intrigue and underworld brutality. It’s a riveting, must-read." -- Shelley Murphy, co-author of the New York Times best-seller “Whitey Bulger: America’s Most Wanted Gangster and the Manhunt That Brought Him to Justice.”

“Meticulously researched and sourced, MAFIA SPIES, the compelling history of the pact between the CIA and Mafia to assassinate Fidel Castro, reads like a bestselling thriller. Thomas Maier’s swashbuckling story-telling takes you into a clandestine, paradoxical world where gangsters were patriots, spies were hapless bureaucrats, and political deception and murder were the prevailing currencies. For those who study U.S. foreign and domestic intelligence practices during the second half of the last century, this is a must-read.
-- Libby Fischer Hellmann, Author of HIGH CRIMES and HAVANA LOST


MAFIA SPIES shows how the CIA and the Mafia colluded in a wild 1960s scheme to kill Fidel Castro, covered it up for years, and eventually paid an awful price. Investigative reporter Thomas Maier reveals many new aspects of America's most extensive and shocking spy scandal. As a real-life drama, this non-fiction book blends the mob violence and intrigue of ‘The Godfather’ with the CIA thriller-like quality of TV's ‘Homeland’."
-- Gerard Ryle, director of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, 2017 Pulitzer Prize Winner “The Panama Papers.”

“This is Thomas Maier’s epic story of the CIA and the mobsters recruited to assassinate Fidel Castro in the 1960s. Maier’s spotlight sweeps across America, casting its sharp focus from Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack to the lesser stars and starlets of Hollywood to Havana and finally to the White House itself. Maier’s prodigious storytelling ability recreates a shocking moment in U.S. history with unprecedented detail and drama, from the bungled attempt to assassinate Fidel Castro to the real possibility that John Kennedy himself was caught in the same seedy web.”
-- Peter Eisner, author “MacArthur’s Spies”, former Washington Post deputy foreign editor, and co-author “The Shadow President.”

Monday, February 4, 2019

Havana Night Life Today, Just Like in MAFIA SPIES

This show last Thursday night looks just like the floor shows at the old Sans Souci casino in Havana run by gangsters Sam Giancana, Johnny Roselli and Santo Trafficante as described in my new book MAFIA SPIES. Lots of show biz stuff in this spy thriller.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

"Mafia Spies reads like a thriller but its all true. I found it gripping from page one. And important." -- Michael Connelly

Praise for MAFIA SPIES by Thomas Maier, out on April 2
“Just when you think you’ve read and heard everything there is to know about the CIA, JFK and the mob, along comes Thomas Maier with this meticulously researched and nuanced report that sets the record straight in some areas and breaks new ground in others. MAFIA SPIES reads like a thriller but its all true. I found it gripping from page one. And important. The events reported on here changed history and give us better understanding of current times.” -- Michael Connelly, New York Times bestselling author and creator of Amazon's TV drama "Bosch".

Checking Out Scenes from MAFIA SPIES in Havana Cuba



I'm just back from Havana Cuba inspecting some of the locales, including the old gangster-run casinos, that are a big part of my new book MAFIA SPIES, which comes out April 2.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Great Review for "Masters of Sex" Box-Set of All Four Seasons

Great Review on PopMatters for the Four-Box Set.
MASTERS OF SEX: THE COMPLETE SERIES (BLU-RAY)
MICHELLE ASHFORD
Mill Creek
21 Aug 2018
OTHER


Showtime's Masters of Sex (2013-2016) focused on William Masters (Michael Sheen) and Virginia Johnson's (Lizzy Caplan) pioneering work on sexuality. As the series opens in the '50s and ends in the early '70s, it touches on a great deal of social history, including gender politics, race relations, and sexual identity. At the center of the series are Bill and Virginia, navigating a complicated and often fraught landscape that goes from a complete rejection of their work to a national popularity that makes them household names. It's an ambitious proposal to tell such a large story, but one that creator Michelle Ashford and her team of writers is prepared to tackle, mostly to great success.
One of the series' ongoing themes is the inherent unhappiness of many of its characters. Bill is haunted by an abusive childhood that colors all his relationships, particularly those with his mother Essie (Ann Dowd), his wife Libby (Caitlin FitzGerald), and his children; Virginia is determined to not turn out like her own mother and frequently sabotages her own happiness; Libby is knowingly married to a husband having a long-term affair with Virginia; and Bill's mentor Dr. Barton Scully (Beau Bridges) is a married, closeted man living a double life. This are many other characters who are allowed only a respite of contentment before they're plunged back into their misery.
In many ways, this consistent inability to find happiness can be interpreted as a response to an inability to adjust to the huge changes of the time, regardless of how welcome those changes might be. There are also unmistakable similarities to AMC's Mad Men (e.g., the time period and the internal angst of its main characters), though Masters of Sexnever feels like a pale imitation. It's a testament to the sharp writing and excellent acting that the series carves its own place, at times surpassing Mad Men in quality storytelling.

Caitlin Fitzgerald as Libby Masters (© Copyright: 2016 Showtime / IMDB)



Masters of Sex
 is strongest in its first two seasons. The excitement of getting their groundbreaking sex study off the ground—starting clandestinely and inserting themselves into the study—makes for an especially intriguing beginning. Unsurprisingly, their unorthodox methods coupled with such a taboo topic has negative consequences for the two. As Bill is unable to find the kind of unrestricted support he wants and Virginia has to constantly contend with sexist comments and behavior from others in the hospital, they eventually decide to go out on their own. Getting to that point involves jumping from several hospitals, opening their own clinic, and publishing their first book, the seminal Human Sexual Response (1966).
In trying to tell a story based about real people and real events, Masters of Sex takes plenty of liberties. Many of its most successful and memorable moments are tied to recurring or one-off characters. Whether it's Virginia's unexpected friendship with Dr. Lillian DePaul (Julianne Nicholson), one of the more surprising and moving relationships in the series, or Margaret Scully's (Allison Janney, in an Emmy winning role) sexual journey, or the uncomfortable interactions between Libby and her young nanny, Coral (Keke Palmer), the series is able to fully realize these characters in ways that make their stories feel integral to the show, limited though their airtime may be.
The wonderful performances by Sheen and Caplan, whose seamless chemistry is communicated through lingering looks and conversations layered with multiple meanings, cannot be underestimated. The complex series of changes and unforeseen circumstances that their relationship weathers remains engrossing (even as they can frequently be unlikable), in large part thanks to the charm of its leads. Similarly charming is Annaleigh Ashford as Betty DiMello, initially a lesbian sex worker instrumental in helping Bill start his study, and later the office manager for the Masters and Johnson clinic, is a standout. Ashford's no-nonsense Betty is as consistently funny as she is heartbreaking. Her relationship with Helen (Sarah Silverman) is beautiful and tragic, and Ashford is able to straddle both sides of Betty's life perfectly.

Annaleigh Ashford as Betty DiMello, Sarah Silverman as Helen (© Copyright: 2016 Showtime / IMDB)


Masters of Sex consistently depicts sexual scenes, and there are several per episode, but without any exploitation. Nothing is ever gratuitous and there's a purpose behind every one of those scenes. They're not meant to titillate, in fact they rarely do in their clinical context, but rather to show the ways in which sexuality changes and remains the same all at once. As their work begins to move them in the direction of sexual dysfunction, Bill is fixated on curing impotence, while Virginia is as concerned with female sexual dysfunction. She's often the one to push their research further, as her enthusiasm and natural intelligence for the work are sparked not only by breakthroughs and hypotheses proved, but also by her tendency to move the research to new, untapped fields. The ways in which Masters and Johnson move their work forward is in no small way indebted to their work on female sexuality and the many myths they debunk.
Masters of Sex works as well as it does because it understands the time period it inhabits wonderfully, and also because the characters are fleshed out and allowed to grow as social strides are made. As the show was cancelled in its fourth season, it never got a chance to delve into the controversial, and now thoroughly discredited, gay conversion therapy Masters and Johnson would go on to champion. Though it's hinted at in the finalĂ©, it's also possible that the story could have been altered, as other fictionalized elements in the series clearly have been. After all, much of the success of rooting a series in such a seminal time in modern American history is how it presents modern-day parallels. Masters of Sexmanaged to do a great deal in four seasons; it's daring, surprising, and often beautiful, owing much to its stellar cast and writing staff.


Mill Creek's Blu-ray release includes many special features that should be familiar to those who already own previous releases, including some featurettes and many deleted scenes, though there are still some new featurettes and the lone commentary track, for the pilot episode, for the entire series.

Advance Praise for MAFIA SPIES by Thomas Maier, https://amzn.to/2Gjk50W     "Enormously fun ... Succeeds brilliantly."  -- Boo...