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The Soprano State: New Jersey's Culture of Corruption

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"The Soprano State" details the you-couldn't-make-this-up true story of the corruption that has pervaded New Jersey politics, government, and business for the past thirty years. From Jimmy Hoffa purportedly being buried somewhere beneath the end zone in Giants Stadium in the Meadowlands, through allegations of a thoroughly corrupt medical and dental university, through Maf "The Soprano State" details the you-couldn't-make-this-up true story of the corruption that has pervaded New Jersey politics, government, and business for the past thirty years. From Jimmy Hoffa purportedly being buried somewhere beneath the end zone in Giants Stadium in the Meadowlands, through allegations of a thoroughly corrupt medical and dental university, through Mafia influence at all levels, to a governor who suddenly declares himself a "gay American" and resigns, the Garden State might indeed be better named after the HBO mobsters. Where else would: - A state attorney general show up after police pulled over her boyfriend who was driving without a valid license? - A state senator and mayor of Newark (the same guy) spend thousands of dollars of taxpayers' money on a junket to Rio days before leaving office? - A politically connected developer hire a prostitute to tape sex acts with his own brother-in-law and then send the tape to his sister? Only in the Soprano State.


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"The Soprano State" details the you-couldn't-make-this-up true story of the corruption that has pervaded New Jersey politics, government, and business for the past thirty years. From Jimmy Hoffa purportedly being buried somewhere beneath the end zone in Giants Stadium in the Meadowlands, through allegations of a thoroughly corrupt medical and dental university, through Maf "The Soprano State" details the you-couldn't-make-this-up true story of the corruption that has pervaded New Jersey politics, government, and business for the past thirty years. From Jimmy Hoffa purportedly being buried somewhere beneath the end zone in Giants Stadium in the Meadowlands, through allegations of a thoroughly corrupt medical and dental university, through Mafia influence at all levels, to a governor who suddenly declares himself a "gay American" and resigns, the Garden State might indeed be better named after the HBO mobsters. Where else would: - A state attorney general show up after police pulled over her boyfriend who was driving without a valid license? - A state senator and mayor of Newark (the same guy) spend thousands of dollars of taxpayers' money on a junket to Rio days before leaving office? - A politically connected developer hire a prostitute to tape sex acts with his own brother-in-law and then send the tape to his sister? Only in the Soprano State.

30 review for The Soprano State: New Jersey's Culture of Corruption

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ray

    What a depressing read. Not the book itself, it's well written and entertaining. It's the subject matter - political corruption in New Jersey. Remember how on The Sopranos there always seemed to be rumors of indictments floating around? Well in New Jersey that shit is real; every couple of years Federal investigators swoop in and bag a bunch of criminals. Except they're not your typical crooks, they're New Jersey politicians or people in positions of authority and public trust. And it happens all What a depressing read. Not the book itself, it's well written and entertaining. It's the subject matter - political corruption in New Jersey. Remember how on The Sopranos there always seemed to be rumors of indictments floating around? Well in New Jersey that shit is real; every couple of years Federal investigators swoop in and bag a bunch of criminals. Except they're not your typical crooks, they're New Jersey politicians or people in positions of authority and public trust. And it happens all the time. This book covers about 30 years worth of this nonsense. If you happen to live in New Jersey (as I once did) and find yourself wondering "Why is this state so terrible? Why do things never change?", read this book. It'll open your eyes to the fact that the state government is not only too big (other states have smaller governments and manage to function just fine), too corrupt, and waaay too expensive (other states...you get the idea). If you live in another state and just want to read about people that have it worse off than you, this is an excellent book. I'd say the only downside to this book is that there's no payoff at the end. Is this supposed to enrage the taxpayers of the Garden State into action? That hasn't happened since Hands Across New Jersey, and the politicians know this. Not to mention that Chris Christie is held up as a shining knight in this book, which was published well before Bridgegate tarnished his image and dashed his Presidential hopes. Once you've read it once I see no reason to read it again, unless you're looking for talking points.

  2. 5 out of 5

    ManOfLaBook.com

    You don't have to live in New Jersey to read this book, I'm sure these shenanigans go on in other states, just not as flagrant or as often. This book should be required reading for any adult - especially in New Jersey - maybe then the average New Jersey voter will stop voting the same crooks into office year after year. Besides listing acts which would make any descent person ashamed to show themselves in public, this book makes a point to mention that the corruption is in the culture. After all You don't have to live in New Jersey to read this book, I'm sure these shenanigans go on in other states, just not as flagrant or as often. This book should be required reading for any adult - especially in New Jersey - maybe then the average New Jersey voter will stop voting the same crooks into office year after year. Besides listing acts which would make any descent person ashamed to show themselves in public, this book makes a point to mention that the corruption is in the culture. After all, if everybody commits pension fraud then why shouldn't you? The Soprano State is informative, funny and entertaining yet horrifying at the same time - as a New Jersey resident I felt like I needed to take a shower after every chapter or segment. Only in New Jersey would the state government attempt to close 12 (twelve) public parks to save $4 million while building a "public" park behind the statehouse to the tune of...$87 million. Then they go crying crocodile tears because the state is bankrupt and they "must" raise taxes. I clearly remember when James "I am a Gay American" McGreevy resigned. I was on a cruise for our honeymoon and busted out laughing, telling the rest of the passengers that gay or not gay - McGreevy only resigned to avoid going to jail as a sitting governor. Ah, yes - the joy of being from New Jersey. Some reviewers said that this book is biased. Yes, there are more stories about corrupt Democrats than Republicans, but that is because Democrats ruled (ruined?) New Jersey for decades. However, to give credit where credit is due, the authors do include Republicans, since they also had their run, and give them the same "credit" they give the Democrats. There is plenty of blame to go around, even though a lot of it spread throughout the United States since those that destroyed this once beautiful state are now retired elsewhere since they cannot afford to live in NJ - after they helped destroy it. Did this book change anything? A little - maybe. The same crooks were voted back into office, the same shenanigans are happening in broad daylight (New Jersey voted a Republican governor as a referendum against the Democratic incumbent - no national politics involved regardless of what the media might want you to think), corruption is rampant, the politician-busting federal prosecutor is now governor but the lawyer that defended all the corrupt politician is now the federal prosecutor (bad choice Mr. President). I'm sure we'll see the Soprano State 2, 3, 4, 5... New Jersey has endless material and this book didn't even scratch the surface. After all Co-author Bob Ingle was saying that they had to cut some stuff out of the book because the editor insisted they'll supply references, otherwise no-one would believe that this book is not a work of fiction. New Jersey needs a systematic change and that won't happen until we vote them all out of office. Each and every one (that's a good advice for national elections as well).

  3. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    While there is a lot of interesting information in this book, I can't recommend it all that highly. There was far too much focus on the authors and their fellow journalists as opposed to the scandals themselves. There was very little narrative flow, as the authors chose instead to jump from one horrifying anecdote to another. (This was analogous to two guys sitting at a bar reminiscing over some of New Jersey's greatest corruption hits.) At times, it felt more like a memoir of a journalist's car While there is a lot of interesting information in this book, I can't recommend it all that highly. There was far too much focus on the authors and their fellow journalists as opposed to the scandals themselves. There was very little narrative flow, as the authors chose instead to jump from one horrifying anecdote to another. (This was analogous to two guys sitting at a bar reminiscing over some of New Jersey's greatest corruption hits.) At times, it felt more like a memoir of a journalist's career than a history or an expose, which was disappointing--it was almost as if they were trying to replicate All the President's Men rather than Woodward and Bernstein's more substantive The Final Days. The All the Presidents' Men style, too, works far better when you're dealing with one story; there were about 200 stories of corruption in this book, and Ingle and McClure seem to have been involved in reporting on most of them.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kim Supranovich

    An excellent read - if you're from NJ, you will alternate between rolling around on the floor laughing and wanting to drive down to Trenton with a baseball bat and some ass-kicking boots on!! An excellent read - if you're from NJ, you will alternate between rolling around on the floor laughing and wanting to drive down to Trenton with a baseball bat and some ass-kicking boots on!!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Christina

    I haven't "officially" abandoned this book yet (that happens when I return it to the library and it won't be overdue until Thursday) but I don't think I'll continue with it. The authors are investigative journalists for New Jersey newspapers and have documented so much corruption that they followed other people's suggestions and put all the stories into a book. So, it's basically a compilation of anecdotes detailing how corrupt and screwed up New Jersey's government is. I read a couple of chapte I haven't "officially" abandoned this book yet (that happens when I return it to the library and it won't be overdue until Thursday) but I don't think I'll continue with it. The authors are investigative journalists for New Jersey newspapers and have documented so much corruption that they followed other people's suggestions and put all the stories into a book. So, it's basically a compilation of anecdotes detailing how corrupt and screwed up New Jersey's government is. I read a couple of chapters and am already weary of it. I travel to New Jersey frequently for work so I was curious generally, but not at the level of detail this book provides. It's pretty disheartening and I'd like to cling to some of my idealism about how government *should* operate. (Which is why I'm glad there are people helping expose the crap... I just don't need this much detail on it.)

  6. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    While this was a nightmare to read, it was a good read. Re-visiting the past 20 years of corruption in New Jersey was not fun, but it is necessary. Ingle and McClure do an admirable job in documenting what is wrong with government here in the Garden State. The only downpoint was re-visiting Jimmy Hoffa. While it served as the introduction to organized crime, Hoffa has little to do with NJ politics directly. Fortunately for the authors (unfortunately for the rest of us), new editions can keep being While this was a nightmare to read, it was a good read. Re-visiting the past 20 years of corruption in New Jersey was not fun, but it is necessary. Ingle and McClure do an admirable job in documenting what is wrong with government here in the Garden State. The only downpoint was re-visiting Jimmy Hoffa. While it served as the introduction to organized crime, Hoffa has little to do with NJ politics directly. Fortunately for the authors (unfortunately for the rest of us), new editions can keep being printed with updated information. Interestingly, Chris Christie shines in this book, written prior to his election as New Jersey's governor.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    Well documented with multiple examples of political corruption. Upsetting in the sense that "good government" seems such a quixotic goal in the Garden State. A little "heavy" (no pun intended) on the praising of gubernatorial candidate Cris Christie Well documented with multiple examples of political corruption. Upsetting in the sense that "good government" seems such a quixotic goal in the Garden State. A little "heavy" (no pun intended) on the praising of gubernatorial candidate Cris Christie

  8. 4 out of 5

    Carole Kahrs

    Quite outdated, but unfortunately the systemic corruption and self-serving political culture is still alive and well in NJ. Worth a read to understand the power structure in NJ State politics and the crazy self-dealing tactics that, while unethical and unthinkable, in many cases are perfectly legal in NJ.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Charlie

    If you like corruption, scandals and shady politicians then this is a must read. It’s a fast paced easy read book. If it wasn’t true you would say that it’s unbelievable.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Dawn

    Yes, NJ is a little state with a huge corruption problem. It has been for decades. Here's the problem: you have 2 journalists with whom have been told by their families to write a book. And they publish this piece of garbage. What I expected: a thoroughly researched, carefully thought out, unbiased look into the corruption that has plagued NJ for, well, almost a century. What I read: a very biased work of self promotion that for the most part begins in 1989 with Democratic Governor Jim Florio Yes, NJ is a little state with a huge corruption problem. It has been for decades. Here's the problem: you have 2 journalists with whom have been told by their families to write a book. And they publish this piece of garbage. What I expected: a thoroughly researched, carefully thought out, unbiased look into the corruption that has plagued NJ for, well, almost a century. What I read: a very biased work of self promotion that for the most part begins in 1989 with Democratic Governor Jim Florio (you'll quickly notice a pattern) and ends with a glowing endorsement for the currently running (Republican) Chris Christie. (It was published in 2008.) I want to make some things clear--I do not have any obligations to any political party. I grew up in NJ and I am extremely familiar with, and broke, from the corruption. Both parties share equal responsibility. Just for starters, the introduction begins with a few spoilers and quick facts. Ingle and McClure claim that they're going to go back 30 years, but 1989-2008 is 19 years. I'm not sure which author wrote this one (the book is obviously shared, as every time an author's article is mentioned, they are mentioned as "Ingle's article" and "McClure's article"), but they claim that Governor McGreevey resigned "after realizing that he was suddenly gay." (Which they then give facts to disprove the "suddenly part in Chapter 2.). And my personal favorite: as lifelong residents of NJ, they try to claim that the mythical New Jersey Devil lives in the swamps. No. No it doesn't. Everyone who lives in NJ knows that it lives in the Pine Barrens!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sam

    The Soprano State does what it sets out to do; provide a comprehensive look at the overwhelming swaths of government corruption plaguing New Jersey's politisphere. Ingle and McClure do an excellent job of conveying and being open about their subjectivity with regards to the topic. The main criticism is that it reads more like an encyclopedia than a book. Having read the book three months ago, all I can truly remember is that New Jersey has a terrible corruption problem. There are just too many n The Soprano State does what it sets out to do; provide a comprehensive look at the overwhelming swaths of government corruption plaguing New Jersey's politisphere. Ingle and McClure do an excellent job of conveying and being open about their subjectivity with regards to the topic. The main criticism is that it reads more like an encyclopedia than a book. Having read the book three months ago, all I can truly remember is that New Jersey has a terrible corruption problem. There are just too many names, scenarios, agencies and the like to effectively extract any knowledge, other than corruption is a problem, out of this book. Still, I would recommend it to anyone who has even a cursory interest in New Jersey politics or the political system in general. Although you may not remember the individual players and specific stories, you will never forget the full image and recurring pattern: 336 pages of outrageous crime followed by heavily corrupt, righteously indignant individual.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Alison

    Required reading for anyone who lives and pays taxes in the state of New Jersey. I am anxiously awaiting their second book, and reading the updates to the website. My mind was racing after each chapter -- New Jersey has taken corruption to an art form, and McClure and Ingle have exposed it all in a well-written, concise and entertaining way with this book. **If you enjoyed this review and would like to read more, please visit my book review blog: http://alisons-bookmarks.blogspot.com/ Required reading for anyone who lives and pays taxes in the state of New Jersey. I am anxiously awaiting their second book, and reading the updates to the website. My mind was racing after each chapter -- New Jersey has taken corruption to an art form, and McClure and Ingle have exposed it all in a well-written, concise and entertaining way with this book. **If you enjoyed this review and would like to read more, please visit my book review blog: http://alisons-bookmarks.blogspot.com/

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Catarino

    Good book about all the corruption and nonsense in NJ politics. Unfortunately, to anyone who reads the Star-Ledger this is mostly old news and nothing really new. There was some good stuff about Golan Cipel and McGreevey's relationship, and all of McGreevey's "boys". He was a pimp. I knew about this long before the scandal because my mom works for the state and heard lots of rumors. Also of note is the UMDNJ student who stole a corpse hand for his stripper girlfriend, current Governor Corzine's Good book about all the corruption and nonsense in NJ politics. Unfortunately, to anyone who reads the Star-Ledger this is mostly old news and nothing really new. There was some good stuff about Golan Cipel and McGreevey's relationship, and all of McGreevey's "boys". He was a pimp. I knew about this long before the scandal because my mom works for the state and heard lots of rumors. Also of note is the UMDNJ student who stole a corpse hand for his stripper girlfriend, current Governor Corzine's ho, and why there are still tolls on the Turnpike. An entertaining but quick and simplistic read.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    Scary and Funny. You laugh think this is a joke right people just can't get away with this but you know its true because you live in New Jersey and you heard all the stories just not in detail. I love New Jersey for so many thing but I have to leave because it is to expensive to live here and this book tells you why. Scary and Funny. You laugh think this is a joke right people just can't get away with this but you know its true because you live in New Jersey and you heard all the stories just not in detail. I love New Jersey for so many thing but I have to leave because it is to expensive to live here and this book tells you why.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Thom

    This is a book that chronicles the corruption in New Jersey over the last 25 plus years. It is an interesting book. The thing is . . . I know that they left a bunch out . . . and I knew too many people that they talked about to really like this book. If you want to know what a day in the life of ThomCarter is . . . pick this one up.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy

    This book is very interesting and is full of facts on the political scandals over the last decade in NJ. It truly is a corrupt state. Although interesting, the book is poorly written and sometimes comes across as too conspiracy theory. The satirical comments sometimes are more annoying that witty or insightful. Still, I gave it a high rating just because of how interesting it actually is.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    Very dry and dull reading ... being this book is about the corruption in the government of my home state of NJ, by the end of the book I was disgusted and pissed off at the level and history of corruption that has been rampant in my state's government .... but when I think about it I am not at all surprised. Very dry and dull reading ... being this book is about the corruption in the government of my home state of NJ, by the end of the book I was disgusted and pissed off at the level and history of corruption that has been rampant in my state's government .... but when I think about it I am not at all surprised.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Brandi

    I liked this book for the injustice it exposes. I don't like however the way reporters tend to write, which is the style in which this book is written. The style to me is a lot of sometimes disjointed anecdotes about New Jersey politics. Most of the time, I think the writing like this kind of scratches the surface. I liked this book for the injustice it exposes. I don't like however the way reporters tend to write, which is the style in which this book is written. The style to me is a lot of sometimes disjointed anecdotes about New Jersey politics. Most of the time, I think the writing like this kind of scratches the surface.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Riley

    Writing about corruption in New Jersey isn't hard, since there is just so much material to work with. This book was too much of a compilation of scandals as told in the newspaper, though, without enough independent reporting or meaty storytelling to make it more than that. The book just felt too slapped together. Writing about corruption in New Jersey isn't hard, since there is just so much material to work with. This book was too much of a compilation of scandals as told in the newspaper, though, without enough independent reporting or meaty storytelling to make it more than that. The book just felt too slapped together.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Diana

    Shocking at first, then repetitive - corruption, deals, shady finances - on and on. NJ seems to be a poster child for this. I thought my brother, who works in NJ government and told me about this book, might be exaggerating when he spoke about this environment - not so, according to this book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kristina Sundin

    Really makes me wonder why I still live in NJ. It's very easy to understand why the cost of living here is so outrageous. Maybe if a movie is made from this book, more people will awaken from their apathetic stupor and actually VOTE incumbents from office in an effort to affect some change. Really makes me wonder why I still live in NJ. It's very easy to understand why the cost of living here is so outrageous. Maybe if a movie is made from this book, more people will awaken from their apathetic stupor and actually VOTE incumbents from office in an effort to affect some change.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kate Krier

    What can I say? I *live* in this state and I can absolutely say that it is corrupt beyond belief.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Inez

    jersey's a mess - got to live there to want to know the gory details jersey's a mess - got to live there to want to know the gory details

  24. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    This book is a must read for everyone. It details exactly how our corrupt political system works and will give you a heads up on whats in store for us in the near future.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Althea

    What an eye opener. I have always known about political corruption in New Jersey; but this book details just how widespread it is.

  26. 4 out of 5

    David Biondi

    This book was a great look into how corrupt new jersey actually is. Everyone should check this out if you live in NJ.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sacha

    I didn't finish the book. It was full of draw dropping stories of corruption to be sure, but somehow managed to also be boring. I didn't finish the book. It was full of draw dropping stories of corruption to be sure, but somehow managed to also be boring.

  28. 5 out of 5

    John

    Good book - now I know why I don't live in New Jersey or New York or Philly - Funny but sad. Gov. Christie is mentioned several times, I wish him luck, he will need it. Good book - now I know why I don't live in New Jersey or New York or Philly - Funny but sad. Gov. Christie is mentioned several times, I wish him luck, he will need it.

  29. 4 out of 5

    John Uzzi

    Interesting stuff. Nothing new but having it all in one place puts a different ring to it. Writing was easy but often over done.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    disturbing look into the state of corruption in new jersey politics

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