The Black Hand
The gripping true story of the origins of the mafia in America—and the brilliant Italian-born detective who gave his life to stop it
Discover the truth about the Black Hand, as featured in Peaky Blinders
Beginning in the summer of 1903, an insidious crime wave filled New York City, and then the entire country, with fear. The children of Italian immigrants were kidnapped, and dozens of innocent victims were gunned down. Bombs tore apart tenement buildings. Judges, senators, Rockefellers, and society matrons were threatened with gruesome deaths. The perpetrators seemed both omnipresent and invisible. Their only calling card: the symbol of a black hand. The crimes whipped up the slavering 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, and a master of disguise. As the crimes grew ever more bizarre and the Black Hand’s activities spread far beyond New York’s borders, Petrosino and the all-Italian police squad he assembled 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.
Unfolding a story rich with resonance in our own era, The Black Hand is fast-paced narrative history at its very best.
Praise for The Black Hand
What a terrific read! Through incredible historical research and a detective’s eye for the telling detail, Stephan Talty chronicles Joseph Petrosino’s dogged pursuit of cold-blooded extortionists and killers. It’s a story about immigration, urban life, and the struggle of law enforcement to confront the terror spread by a start-up criminal underworld at the turn of the 20th centuryDick Lehr, author of the New York Times bestseller Black Mass
The Black Hand is a fascinating immersion into an almost forgotten time and culture in which a mysterious criminal enterprise terrorized immigrants seeking a new life in America. Stephan Talty’s book provides a richly woven, engrossing tale of one man determined to help his fellow Italian-Americans resist the threat and prosper. A solid addition to the American history libraryGregory A. Freeman, author of The Forgotten 500
Stephan Talty is a marvelous storyteller, and with The Black Hand, he's hit a gusher: the true tale of one of New York City's greatest detectives at war with a lethal secret society and at odds with his own department. In Talty's hands, this is a thrilling instant classic.Robert Kolker, author of the New York Times bestseller Lost Girls
Given the secret nature of the Black Hand — which terrorized New York and the nation a century ago — Talty's account is extraordinarily detailed. Even more intimate is the portrait of Petrosino, chief Mafia detective. An important and gripping book.A. J. Baime, author of The Arsenal of Democracy