Henry Hill, the organizer of the largest unrecovered cash heist in history, shares the inside story of The Lufthansa Heist: Behind the Six-Million Dollar Cash Haul That Shook the World, co-written with Daniel Simone.
Despite Hill’s death in 2012, Simone continued with the book and published it in 2015, in sync with the 25th anniversary of Goodfellas, which is based on Nicholas Pileggi’s book, Wiseguy.
On Dec. 11, 1978, the notorious armed robbery of more than $5 million rocked Kennedy Airport. Hill’s account takes readers through the details of the heist and little known facts that baffled law enforcement for more than a decade.
Although it’s disclosed that some elements of the story are fictional, some readers have critiqued the book for not being true to the dialogue and dialect of some characters, for instance, why an Irish mobster would regularly dot his dialogue with Italian street slang. Hey, fuggedaboutit, it could happen. True though, there is a lot of slang peppered throughout the book and I did spend time in the book’s convenient glossary, reviewing some of the terms as they appeared and then finally just took to reading the glossary like it was its own chapter. Still entertaining, but also part of the allure of the Hollywood-sensationalized mob life.
Technically, this story is not historical fiction because of the criteria that defines this genre as something that happened at least 50 years ago and usually before the author was alive, but it does straddle the line between fact and fiction and it’s an exciting read, especially to those who are familiar with the characters and storyline of Goodfellas.
Unsolved burglaries, homicides and myriad related crimes, all connected to the Lufthansa heist, continue to unravel and have remained at the forefront of public interest for more than 30 years. The late Hill was placed in the Federal Witness Protection Program in 1980, while assisting the feds in cases against top mob associates and organizations.
If you can’t get enough of the Goodfellas and Wiseguy stories or you love to read about ’70s-’80s Queens and the criminal underground, this book is for you. Simone has co-written autobiographies and published numerous shorter pieces on prominent figures in film, theater and fiction.