A Letter From The Publisher, Apr. 24, 1972

WHY is Homo sapiens such a murderous species? Mayhem among gangsters crests periodically, like seasonal floods, to settle grudges or to clarify title to racket real estate. Less organized killing is random and constant—and more difficult to pin down. Our cover story and Essay this week discuss both kinds; analyzing the skein of gang murders in New York and the deep-seated psychology of violence that has no home town.

Correspondents James Willwerth and Sandy Smith reported from the New York firing line, and from their own experience as thug watchers. Willwerth's first brush with the Mob dates back to 1969, when...

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