Male. Education: Graduated from Binghamton University, State University of New York, 1984.
Journalist and author. Worked as New York City Police Department beat reporter for New York Newsday and then New York Times; New York Times, Trenton, NJ, bureau chief, 1990—.
(With Jim Dwyer, Deidre Murphy, and Peg Tyre) Two Seconds under the World: Terror Comes to America; The Conspiracy behind the World Trade Center Bombing, Crown Publishers (New York, NY), 1994.
The Brass Wall: The Betrayal of Undercover Detective No. 4126, Henry Holt & Company (New York, NY), 2003.
Journalist David Kocieniewski collaborated with fellow reporters for his first book, 1994's Two Seconds under the World: Terror Comes to America; The Conspiracy behind the World Trade Center Bombing, which focuses on the 1993 terrorist bombing of the World Trade Center. Through interviews with confidential sources, the reporters provide a comprehensive account of the episode, from where and how the bomb was manufactured to the explosion and rescue effort to the arrest and trial of the perpetrators, a group of Islamic fundamentalists. The reporters also probe the government agencies that, they argue, may have prevented the attack, which presaged the devastating destruction of the two buildings and loss of approximately 3,000 lives that occurred in 2001. "The book … is a careful indictment of the government agencies—it wasn't just the FBI—whose actions inadvertently allowed the catastrophe to occur," noted Jeffrey Goldberg in the Chicago Sun-Times. Goldberg went on to note, "The prose isn't seamless all the way through; it's sometimes clear that four separate pens wrote this book." Goldberg also noted that Kocieniewski and his colleagues "succeed in keeping things tense" and that "the authors do an elegant job of giving faces to the victims."
In The Brass Wall: The Betrayal of Undercover Detective No. 4126, Kocieniewski relies on his experience on the police news beat to tell a tale of New York City Police Department corruption and an honest detective, Vincent Armanti, who infiltrates the Luchese mob after a firefighter is killed in an arson blaze. Armanti transforms himself into ex-con Vinnie "Blue Eyes" Penisi as his undercover disguise. Before long, however, Armanti discovers that someone with the department may be tipping off the mob about his true identity. That someone turns out to be the son of a powerful commander in the force. When the commander learns of his son's wrongdoing, he sets out to protect his son, even if it means destroying Armanti.
Writing in the New York Times Book Review, Tyler D. Johnson pointed out that "Kocieniewski … deftly reports a complex, heavily researched story and, even with asides into the history of Throgs Neck and Internal Affairs, the book speeds along with intensity." In a review in the Village Voice, John Giuffo felt that Kocieniewski's use of the third-person style in recounting his own role in the case is "annoying" but added that "his narrative slices to the core of the problem-old-school NYPD protectionism in a post-Serpico age." USA Today contributor Richard Willing thought the book "lacks the contrived symmetry of police fiction" and added that the "writing is occasionally over the top." A contributor writing in Kirkus Reviews praised Kocieniewski's writing, noting, "Kocieniewski's wry, straightforward prose captures the moody desperation of a city reeling from crack-related violence and police scandals, as well as the tenacity of old-school organized crime in New York's less glamorous neighborhoods." A Publishers Weekly contributor found the ending "somewhat anticlimactic" but also noted that the "book captures the divergent aspects of heroism and dirty politics that have become intertwined in the complex world of law enforcement."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Chicago Sun-Times, November 13, 1994, Jeffrey Goldberg, review of Two Seconds under the World: Terror Comes to America; The Conspiracy behind the World Trade Center Bombing, p. 13.
Entertainment Weekly, October 3, 2003, Joshua Rich, review of The Brass Wall: The Betrayal of Undercover Detective No. 4126, p. 77.
Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2003, review of The Brass Wall, p. 952.
New York Times Book Review, January 4, 2004, Tyler D. Johnson, review of The Brass Wall, p. 16.
Publishers Weekly, September 12, 1994, review of Two Seconds under the World, p. 37; July 7, 2003, review of The Brass Wall, p. 59.
USA Today, November 6, 2003, Richard Willing, review of The Brass Wall, section D, p. 6.
Village Voice, December 17-23, 2003, John Giuffo, review of The Brass Wall, section C, p. 87.*