'Murdertown,' 'Bombtown,' 'Crimetown USA'

Through decades, Youngstown, Ohio, endured painful nicknames like those, due to the rackets, violence and corruption of organized crime in the region. In its November 2022 issue - just released yesterday - Informer addresses the history of organized crime in the Mahoning/Shenango valleys of northeastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania. Articles on the subject range from the earliest "Mafia" reports of the 1890s through the apparent dissolution of the Mob more than a century later.

I spent much of the past two years coordinating "The Mob in Youngstown" issue. I had the pleasure of working on this massive project with extremely knowledgeable organized crime historians James Barber, Justin Cascio, Margaret Janco, Thom L. Jones, Michael A. Tona and Edmond Valin.

There were some special challenges. The Youngstown-area underworld was unusually complex, as four Mafia organizations - those from Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Detroit and Buffalo - a non-Mafia Calabrian criminal society and other gangs all had interests in the region. These groups cooperated and competed with each other at various times. Sitting at the approximate midway point between Cleveland and Pittsburgh, assigned "open city" status by U.S. Mafia bosses and afflicted by intensely corrupt political and law enforcement leaders, Youngstown was a sort of underworld frontier where the rules - even those made by outlaws to govern their own interactions - were widely ignored. (Car-bomb assassinations, for which the Youngstown area became nationally famous, were supposedly outlawed by the U.S. Mafia's Commission.)

Readers of this issue will learn about the secret regional groups behind names like, "Society of Honor," "Sacred Circle" and "Society of the Banana." They will encounter crime figures like "Fats" Aiello, Ernie Biondillo, Frank Cammarata, "Cadillac Charlie" Cavallaro, Joe Cutrone, "Tony Dope" Delsanter, Vince DeNiro, "Wolf" DiCarlo, "Big Jim" Falcone, Mike Farah, "Red" Giordano, "Big Dom" Mallamo, Dominick Moio, "Two-Gun Jimmy" Prato, Rocco Racco, Rocco Strange, Lenny Strollo, "Zebo" Zottola, as well as the Barber brothers, the Carabbia brothers, the Naples brothers, the Romeo brothers and many more.

Summaries of all the individual articles and an introduction to the entire issue can be found on Informer's website, along with a handy table of links to help you preview and/or purchase Informer in the format that is best for you.

There are seven formats to choose from this time around. In addition to our traditional print magazine and PDF digital magazine (available, as usual, from the MagCloud service), the options include print paperback book, print hardcover book and Kindle ebook (these three from Amazon) and EPUB ebook and audiobook (these last two from Google Play Books). The magazine versions run 188 pages, including ads and covers. The books are 378 pages long. Both the paperback and hardcover have indexes. (I cannot imagine how - or even why - ebook page counts are stated by the sellers. Amazon's Kindle version indicates that it is 543 pages, while Google says the EPUB version is 320 pages. Both have precisely the same content.)

The new audiobook format is particularly exciting. While some of the brief, unrelated filler material of the other formats has been edited out in order to focus on the main theme, "The Mob in Youngstown" audiobook presents 10 hours and 22 minutes of discussion of the region's underworld history. The audiobook was made possible through Google artificial intelligence "auto-narration" technology, which generates a realistic human voice (U.S. English voice "Matt" was selected as Informer's narrator) from text. If you're interested, why not check it out?