Richard "The Ice Man" Kuklinski led a double life beyond anything ever seen on The Sopranos, becoming one of the most notorious professional assassins in American history while hosting neighborhood barbecues in suburban New Jersey. Now, after 240 hours of face-to-face interviews with Kuklinski and his wife and daughters, author Philip Carlo tells his extraordinary story.
This stomach-turning account of the multiple atrocities committed over 43 years by Richard "The Ice Man" Kuklinski--as sadistic a killer as most readers would ever want to encounter in print--seems like more of an as-told-to than an independent journalistic narrative, though Carlo says that he verified Kuklinski's accounts where possible. But rather than critically assess Kuklinski's largely self-serving tales of his roles in such major mob killings as those of Jimmy Hoffa and Gambino boss Paul Castellano, Carlo (The Night Stalker) seems to accept them. Instead of applying objective insight into how such a murderer--who researched methods that would prolong his victims' suffering--came to be, the author presents instead chapter after chapter of Kuklinski summarily killing criminals he was hired to eliminate or randomly gunning down someone on the street to test out a new weapon. By disregarding the questions raised by Mafia experts such as Jerry Capeci about Kuklinski's credibility, Carlo has fumbled an opportunity. Sloppy errors (e.g., Rudy Giuliani served as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, not the Eastern District) also detract from the book, which ends with a bizarre invitation to the reader to write to Kuklinski at the Trenton State Prison. (July 11)
Copyright (c) Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
-- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
There are no customer reviews available at this time. Would you like to write a review?
St. Martin's Press
September 17, 2007
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.
Excerpt from The Ice Man by Philip Carlo
Mortal Sin Indeed
At the turn of the twentieth century, Jersey City, New Jersey, the place where Richard Kuklinski was born and raised, was a bustling Polish enclave. Because of its many Polish Catholic churches and an abundance of blue-collar work, Polish immigrants flocked to Jersey City in large numbers.
The Lackawanna, Erie, Pennsylvania, and Central railroad companies all had bases in Jersey City. Trains from across the United States brought all kinds of produce to the East Coast of America, and this was the final stop. Sprawling rail yards filled the area. Rail tracks ran on just about every other street. Jersey City's main thoroughfare, Railroad Avenue, had a trestle running right down the center of the wide two-way street. Powerful black locomotives pulling long rust-colored trains to the waterfront were the norm; the heavy chug-chug sound and high-pitched screams of steam locomotives came from all directions, both day and night, seven days a week.
Located at the northeast end of the state of New Jersey, Jersey City was ideally located near the bustling metropolis of Manhattan, and from here all types of goods and produce were shipped up and down the eastern seaboard. At its closest point just across the southernmost end of the Hudson River, Jersey City was only three-quarters of a mile away from lower Manhattan--the center of the world--and ferries were constantly bringing goods to the piers that crowded the busy Manhattan waterfront. On a clear day, it seemed, you could easily throw a stone to Manhattan from Jersey City, it appeared so close--the proverbial stone's throw away.
In truth, Jersey City was as different from New York City as another planet. In Jersey City lived the working poor, those struggling to make ends meet, to put food on the table. Yes, there was a lot of work in Jersey City, but it was backbreaking menial employment, and the wages were pitifully low. In the summertime it was unbearably hot and humid. Because of underdeveloped swampland nearby, undulating dark clouds of mosquitoes filled the night air. In the winter Jersey City was brutally cold, constantly battered by powerful winds that came tearing down the Hudson River and off the nearby Atlantic Ocean. It seemed during those months like a place in the far northern reaches of Siberia.
Located just next to Hoboken, Frank Sinatra's hometown, Jersey City was a rough-and-tumble town filled with hard-boiled blue-collar workers and their hard-boiled blue-collar offspring. This was a place where a kid quickly learned to defend himself or was victimized and bullied. The strong were respected and prospered. The weak were marginalized and put-upon.
Richard Kuklinski's mother, Anna McNally, grew up in the Sacred Heart Orphanage on Erie and Ninth Streets. Her parents had emigrated from Dublin in 1904 and settled in Jersey City, which was then the tenth largest city in America. Anna had two older brothers, Micky and Sean. Shortly after the family arrived in Jersey City, Anna's father died of pneumonia and her mother was killed when a truck ran her down on Tenth Street. Anna and her brothers wound up in the orphanage. Though skinny and malnourished, Anna was a physically attractive child with dark, almond-shaped eyes and flawless cream-colored skin.
In the Sacred Heart Orphanage, religion was forced upon the children, and Anna had the fear of God, hell, and damnation beaten into her by sadistic nuns who treated their charges as though they were personal servants and whipping posts. Before Anna was ten years old she was sexually accosted by a priest, and she lost both her virginity and a part of her humanity, and grew into an austere, cold woman who rarely smiled and came to view life through hard, unfeeling dark eyes.
When, at eighteen, Anna was forced to leave the orphanage, she went into a Catholic convent, planning to become a nun herself. She had no skills as such and nowhere else to turn. But Anna was not cut out for the pastoral life. She soon met Stanley Kuklinski at a dance sponsored by the church, and her destiny was sealed.
Stanley Kuklinski had been born in Warsaw, Poland, and immigrated to Jersey City with his mother and father and two brothers. At twenty-six, when Stanley met Anna, he cut a handsome figure, resembling Rudolph Valentino. He wore his hair parted in the center and slicked back tight against his scalp as was the fashion of the day. Stanley was smitten by Anna and pursued her relentlessly, and she agreed to marry him some three months after they met. They wed in July of 1925, and their wedding picture shows a particularly good-looking couple who appeared well matched, a union that held much promise. Anna had grown into a truly beautiful woman. She resembled Olivia de Havilland in Gone with the Wind.