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At a Glance
This collection is arranged in five series.
Peter Maas (1929-2001) was an author and journalist, best-known for his non-fiction books on organized crime, particularly The Valachi Papers and Serpico, which were later made into films. The collection includes business files, clippings, correspondence, drafts, interviews (both tapes and transcripts), manuscripts, and research files.
The papers primarily consist of records that document Maas' work as an author of fiction and non-fiction books. The papers include records related to almost all of Maas' books, with the exception of The Rescuer (Harper, 1968), King of the Gypsies (Viking, 1975), and Terrible Hours: The Man behind the Greatest Submarine Rescue in History (HarperCollins, 1999). The records include clippings, contracts, corrections, correspondence, drafts, expense reports, interviews (including audiotapes, transcripts, and notes), legal documents and information, manuscripts, notes, outlines, photographs, proofs, publications, reviews, royalty statements, screenplays for film adaptations, transcripts, and other materials. The papers also include a small amount of early material related to unpublished fiction projects.
There are some records related to Maas' work as a journalist, but they are not comprehensive. The records primarily date from Maas' work on individual pieces in the 1960s, and include correspondence, drafts, manuscripts, and a few files on individuals. The records also include a set of files related to a later project on the 1997 case of Brian O'Rourke v. Linda Baisi, St. Frances de Chantal Roman Catholic Church, et al.
The papers include two scrapbooks (1955-1973) that include clippings of Maas' articles and clippings related to the publication of The Valachi Papers.
The collection focuses on Maas' professional work. There is very little personal material in the collection, and most of this consists of personal correspondence from his time in Paris (1949-1952) and the 1950s.
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Restrictions on Access
This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.
This collection has no restrictions.
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Name of Collection; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.
No additions are expected
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Papers processed by Catherine C. Ricciardi and Williams Owens (Pratt Institute, MLIS, 2012) 2012, 2015-2016.
Finding aid written by Catherine C. Ricciardi 2016.
2016-01-12 File created.
2016-01-13 XML document instance created by Catherine C. Ricciardi
2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.
History / Biographical Note
Peter Maas was born John Peter Maas on June 27, 1929, in New York City, the son of Carl and Madeleine (Fellheimer) Maas.
Maas first became interested in journalism while studying at Duke University in the 1940s, and worked on the school newspaper with editor Clay Felker, who later founded New York Magazine. After graduating in 1949, Maas moved to Paris to work for the New York Herald-Tribune. He left in 1952, and spent two years in United States Navy, serving from 1952-1954.
After Maas completed his military service, he returned to New York. He worked at Colliers magazine from 1955-1956, but the magazine folded, and he became senior editor at Look magazine in 1959. Later he served as a consultant for the NBC television program, "David Brinkley's Journal" (1961-1962), and then became a senior writer for the Saturday Evening Post (1963-1966). Maas was also one of the founding contributors to New York Magazine during the 1960s, and was considered to be part of the new journalism movement.
It was during his time at the Saturday Evening Post that Maas became involved in the Joseph Valachi case, which became the subject of his first major book. Maas wrote a three article series for the Saturday Evening Post, and eventually expanded his research into a book. Publishing the book was problematic. The U.S. Justice Department, which had encouraged Valachi to write his memoirs, with Maas serving as his editor, later tried to stop the project after protests from the Italian American community. But in the ensuing legal battle, the courts ruled that while Valachi could be prohibited from publishing a book, Maas could write his own book based upon his own interviews and research. Although finding a publisher proved difficult, the book was published by Putnam as The Valachi Papers in 1969, and became an immediate best-seller, and was adapted into a film in 1972.
Maas' next book, Serpico, the story of Detective Frank Serpico, was an even greater success. After Putnam, the publisher of The Valachi Papers, rejected the manuscript, the book was published by Viking in 1973. The book quickly became a bestseller, and was made into an academy award nominated film starring Al Pacino as Serpico.
Maas' published books as follows: The Rescuer, Harper, 1968; The Valachi Papers, Putnam, 1969; Serpico, Viking, 1973; King of the Gypsies, Viking, 1975; Made in America, Viking, 1979 (Novel); Marie: A True Story, Random House, 1983; Manhunt, Random House, 1986; Father and Son, Simon and Shuster, 1989; In a Child's Name: The Legacy of a Mother's Murder, Simon and Schuster, 1990; China White, Simon & Shuster, 1994; Killer Spy: The Inside Story of the FBI's Pursuit and Capture of Aldrich Ames, America's Deadliest Spy, Warner Books, 1995; Underboss: Sammy the Bull Gravano's Story of Life in the Mafia, HarperCollins, 1997; and Terrible Hours: The Man behind the Greatest Submarine Rescue in History, HarperCollins, 1999.
Maas continued to work as a journalist after becoming a successful author. He wrote frequently for The New York Times Magazine and also wrote a column for several months in SportsMonday, a section started by The Times in 1978. Maas also served as a contributing editor of Parade magazine from 1983-2001.
Maas died in New York City on August 23, 2001.