PERSONAL: Married; wife's name, Laurie; children: Christopher, Gregory, Elise. Education: Georgetown University, B.A.; Loyola University, M.A.
ADDRESSES: Home—Mendham, NJ. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Croce Publishing Group LLC, P.O. Box 339, Montvale, NJ 07645-0339.
CAREER: Chemetall Oakite (industrial chemical company), Berkeley Heights, NJ, chief executive officer; Golden Gloves boxer, 1969-71. Has appeared on television programs, such as The Bob Grant Show.
AWARDS, HONORS: United Press International prize for fiction.
The Privacy War: One Congressman, J. Edgar Hoover, and the Fight for the Fourth Amendment, Croce Publishing Group (Montvale, NJ), 2003.
Il Dottore: The Double Life of a Mafia Doctor, Barricade Books (Fort Lee, NJ), 2004.
Also author of novels and nonfiction, including Searchers: A True Story, Blood Ultimatum, The Blue Ice Affair, Death Mission: Havana, and The Indian Point Conspiracy.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Blind Truth, a story about the politics of heroin smuggling.
SIDELIGHTS: Ron Felber is the author of several books on a variety of subjects, ranging from a story based on reports of alien abductions to novels about nuclear terrorism. His two books The Privacy War: One Congressman, J. Edgar Hoover, and the Fight for the Fourth Amendment and Il Dottore: The Double Life of a Mafia Doctor approach their subjects through the use of oral-history interviews. Both books also look at the ways in which modern living has blurred the distinctions between private life and public life.
The Privacy War, which was based on hundreds of hours of taped interviews conducted by the author, tells the story of former New Jersey congressman Neil Gallagher. Gallagher championed Fourth Amendment rights while chairing a special congressional subcommittee that investigated claims that federal government agencies were violating the privacy rights of Americans. The primary culprit was the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which was then run by J. Edgar Hoover. Even though Gallagher had powerful friends and had cultivated relationships with John F. and Robert Kennedy, Felber reports that Hoover targeted Gallagher, tapping his phone illegally and spreading damaging rumors about potential connections between the congressman and the New Jersey mafia. Eventually, allegations in the press led to charges of political corruption.
The former congressman eventually served two terms in federal prison on tax evasion charges; his career was in tatters and his reputation destroyed. "Gallagher," wrote Julie Lange in the Chester, New Jersey Observer-Tribune, "still believes that the costs are far too dear for Fourth Amendment compromises, such as the Patriot Act now in effect in this country, which allows search, seizure and imprisonment without due process." 'Because in the end,' Gallagher concludes in Felber's book, 'the largest international terrorist agency over the last half century has not been the foreign organizations that the United Stated intelligence agencies have targeted, but the United States intelligence agencies themselves.'"
Felber's Il Dottore is the story of surgeon Elliot Litner, who was raised in the Bronx while New York's Cosa Nostra gang was still a strong power in that city. Litner went to school with the sons of New York crime bosses and associated with many major figures, including John Gotti, Joseph Bonano, and Paul Castellano. Litner, explained Karen Sandlin Silverman in Library Journal, became "a highly regarded cardiac surgeon by day and a Mob-funded sex and gambling addict by night who performed favors for his childhood friends" and others. His dual life continued for decades until then-mayor Rudi Guiliani's Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) investigations became too heated for the crime families. It all fell apart in 1986, a Publishers Weekly reviewer explained, "when [Litner] … was asked to engineer an 'accident' during surgery on Giuliani witness Ralph Scopo." Il Dottore is "an exciting and suspenseful true story," concluded Willis M. Buhle in Reviewer's Book-watch, the critic adding that Felber's expose is "more enthralling than fiction."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, October 1, 2004, Mike Tribby, review of Il Dottore: The Double Life of a Mafia Doctor, p. 286.
Library Journal, September 15, 2004, Karen Sandlin Silverman, review of Il Dottore, p. 70.
New York Times Book Review, October 31, 2004, Mark Kamine, "The Good Life for Bad People," p. 20.
Observer-Tribune (Chester, NJ), December 4, 2003, Julie Lange, "Author Explores Dark Side of Hoover's FBI."
Publishers Weekly, September 6, 2004, review of Il Dottore, p. 58.
Reviewer's Bookwatch, October, 2004, Willis Buhle, review of Il Dottore.
Croce Publishing Group Web site, http://www.croce publishing.com/ (February 7, 2005).