Originally Posted By: BloodlettersandBadmen

First, you kind of made my point. You state that Carl Sifakisí book is full of factual errors. True! But so is every other one. Each and every so-called eye witness, from Joe Bonanno to Valachi had an agenda - to put themselves, their actions and their organization in the best possible light.

Saying a book is full of factual errors has to gone beyond the statement. What is required is some form of documentation which asserts unequivocally what did happen. Due to the fact that the underworld wants to remain secretive makes this a difficult feat.
Sifakis may have gotten things wrong, I agree. However, I have found contradictory research in the writing of Jay Robert Nash, Selwyn Raab and George Anastasia just to name a few. Who is right and who is wrong is up for debate.

Excellent points.

Many of the popular authors (including primary sources) have errors and contradictions, but it doesn't mean we dismiss everything they wrote. Joe Valachi, Joe Bonanno Sr., Gentile and Abe Reles are primary sources people use for early research, but what do we do when they contradict each other? For example, Joe Valachi claims he was sponsored by Joe Bonanno but Bonanno himself denied this. Which is fact?

Joe Valachi stated that mafia soldiers did not participate in Murder Inc. killings and that they were separate run organizations. This may have been generally true what was a powerful underboss like Anastasia doing with them? People who deny a national combination deny these facts by dismissing or pretending they didn't happen.

Primary sources are considered more reliable than secondary, but not always. Single sources of information like Valachi or Gentile should always be suspect unless they can be corroborated with other sources of information. It's always a problem where they might disagree, but on points they agree I guess we can place some degree of confidence.