The Devil Himself by Eric Dezenhall
A Novel

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"I'll talk to anybody, a priest, a bank manager, a gangster, the devil himself, if I can get the information I need. This is a war." -- Lt. Commander Charles Radcliffe Haffenden, Naval Intelligence Unit, B-3

In late 1982, a spike in terrorism has the Reagan Administration considering covert action to neutralize the menace before it reaches the United States. There are big risks to waging a secret war against America’s enemies---but there is one little-known precedent.
Forty years earlier, German U-boats had been prowling the Atlantic, sinking hundreds of U.S. ships along the east coast, including the largest cruise ship in the world, Normandie, destroyed at a Manhattan pier after Pearl Harbor. Nazi agents even landed on Long Island with explosives and maps of railways, bridges, and defense plants. Desperate to secure the coast, the Navy turned to Meyer Lansky, the Jewish Mob boss. A newly naturalized American whose fellow Eastern European Jews were being annihilated by Hitler, Lansky headed an unlikely fellowship of mobsters Lucky Luciano, Bugsy Siegel, Frank Costello, and naval intelligence officers.
Young Reagan White House aide Jonah Eastman, grandson of Atlantic City gangster Mickey Price, is approached by the president’s top advisor with an assignment: Discreetly interview his grandfather’s old friend Lansky about his wartime activities. There just might be something to learn from that secret operation.
The notoriously tight-lipped gangster, dying of cancer, is finally ready to talk. Jonah gets a riveting---and darkly comic---history lesson. The Mob caught Nazi agents, planted propaganda with the help of columnist Walter Winchell, and found Mafia spies to plot the invasion of Sicily, where General Patton was poised to strike at the soft underbelly of the Axis. Lansky’s men stopped at nothing to sabotage Hitler’s push toward American shores.
Based on real events, The Devil Himself is a high-energy novel of military espionage and Mafia justice.


About Eric Dezenhall

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Eric Dezenhall is the co-founder of Dezenhall Resources, one of the nation's leading crisis management firms, and is the author of two novels, Money Wanders and Jackie Disaster, and the nonfiction study, Nail 'Em! Confronting High Profile Attacks on Celebrities and Businesses which has been optioned for TV. He lives in Bethesda, MD.
Published July 19, 2011 by Thomas Dunne Books. 304 pages
Genres: History, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Action & Adventure, War, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Along with the background of the uneasy alliance between the Italian and Jewish gangsters who dominated the criminal enterprises around New York City, there are interesting character snippets of infamous gangsters like Lucky Luciano (whose Sicilian ties aid in the Allied invasion of that island),...

Jul 19 2011 | Read Full Review of The Devil Himself: A Novel

Publishers Weekly

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Dezenhall's breezy fifth crime novel narrated by Jonah Eastman, last seen in 2006's Spinning Dixie, finds the pollster working as a college intern in Ronald Reagan's White House in 1982.

May 02 2011 | Read Full Review of The Devil Himself: A Novel

The Washington Times

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He was also the real-life contact with Lansky, a relationship that was kept secret because the government couldn’t be seen to have allied itself with such notorious figures as Lansky and Lansky’s partners in crime, Charlie “Lucky” Luciano, Ben “Bugsy” Siegel, Frank Costello and other gangsters.

Nov 14 2011 | Read Full Review of The Devil Himself: A Novel

Washington Independent Review of Books

The Devil Himself, Eric Dezenhall’s sixth action novel, draws from a stranger-than-fiction episode in World War II, when the U.S. Navy called upon the patriotism of New York City’s gangsters to help plug security leads to Nazi Germany.

Jul 21 2011 | Read Full Review of The Devil Himself: A Novel

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