counter create hit Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires - Download Free eBook
Ads Banner
Hot Best Seller

Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires

Availability: Ready to download

Genovese, Gambino, Bonnano, Colombo and Lucchese. For decades these Five Families ruled New York and built the American Mafia (or Cosa Nostra) into an underworld empire. Today, the Mafia is an endangered species, battered and beleaguered by aggressive investigators, incompetent leadership, betrayals and generational changes that produced violent and unreliable leaders and Genovese, Gambino, Bonnano, Colombo and Lucchese. For decades these Five Families ruled New York and built the American Mafia (or Cosa Nostra) into an underworld empire. Today, the Mafia is an endangered species, battered and beleaguered by aggressive investigators, incompetent leadership, betrayals and generational changes that produced violent and unreliable leaders and recruits. A twenty year assault against the five families in particular blossomed into the most successful law enforcement campaign of the last century. Five Families is the vivid story of the rise and fall of New York's premier dons from Lucky Luciano to Paul Castellano to John Gotti and more. The book also brings the reader right up to the possible resurgence of the Mafia as the FBI and local law enforcement agencies turn their attention to homeland security and away from organized crime.


Compare
Ads Banner

Genovese, Gambino, Bonnano, Colombo and Lucchese. For decades these Five Families ruled New York and built the American Mafia (or Cosa Nostra) into an underworld empire. Today, the Mafia is an endangered species, battered and beleaguered by aggressive investigators, incompetent leadership, betrayals and generational changes that produced violent and unreliable leaders and Genovese, Gambino, Bonnano, Colombo and Lucchese. For decades these Five Families ruled New York and built the American Mafia (or Cosa Nostra) into an underworld empire. Today, the Mafia is an endangered species, battered and beleaguered by aggressive investigators, incompetent leadership, betrayals and generational changes that produced violent and unreliable leaders and recruits. A twenty year assault against the five families in particular blossomed into the most successful law enforcement campaign of the last century. Five Families is the vivid story of the rise and fall of New York's premier dons from Lucky Luciano to Paul Castellano to John Gotti and more. The book also brings the reader right up to the possible resurgence of the Mafia as the FBI and local law enforcement agencies turn their attention to homeland security and away from organized crime.

30 review for Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires

  1. 5 out of 5

    Gere Lewis

    A more accurate title would have been "New York: A History of Law Enforcement Tactics Used Against the Mafia in the 20th Century". There were too many important Mafia events that were glossed over or omitted for this to truly have been a book about the five families. The primary focus seemed to be on the response that state and federal governments had to the Mafia and the tactics that were used to combat them. It was an interesting read and certainly well researched, although the editor should b A more accurate title would have been "New York: A History of Law Enforcement Tactics Used Against the Mafia in the 20th Century". There were too many important Mafia events that were glossed over or omitted for this to truly have been a book about the five families. The primary focus seemed to be on the response that state and federal governments had to the Mafia and the tactics that were used to combat them. It was an interesting read and certainly well researched, although the editor should be very embarrassed. There were many obvious typos and name switches throughout, basic errors that an editor is supposed to correct and yet failed to do so. If you are looking for books that are actually about the five families, I would suggest something more along the lines of "Donnie Brasco: My Undercover Life in the Mafia" by Joseph Pistone or "Boss of Bosses: The FBI and Paul Castellano" by Joseph F. O'Brien and Andris Kurins. Those are both still written by federal agents (or former federal agents) and are, of course, written from that perspective, however, in my opinion they give more information about the families and how they operate than this book did. Read this book if you want to know more about law enforcement tactics and the RICO law.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sean Peters

    Firstly, thanks to my friend Christian for lending me this book, this was a challenge ! A challenge as I have never read a novel with 784 pages and read in 7 days. Well I think just for the research of this book it deserves four stars, the information is incredible, theis has taken many years of research and knowledge. This really is a "History" book of the Five Families of the mafia in New York... A book that as you read you see so many names that sound so familiar, especially for myself after read Firstly, thanks to my friend Christian for lending me this book, this was a challenge ! A challenge as I have never read a novel with 784 pages and read in 7 days. Well I think just for the research of this book it deserves four stars, the information is incredible, theis has taken many years of research and knowledge. This really is a "History" book of the Five Families of the mafia in New York... A book that as you read you see so many names that sound so familiar, especially for myself after reading books on The Iceman, Richard Kuklinsky, and Gaspipe, Anthony Masso. Familiar names like Paul Castellano, John Gotti, Lucky Luciano, Bugsy Siegel, Joseph Colombo, Vincent Gigante, Joe Bonanno, Carmine Galante, Joe profaci, Tommy Lucchese, Anthony Corallo. The History of the "Five Families of the Cosa Nostra in New York, from the 20's to 2003/2005. The careers of the boss's of the families, the downfalls. The amazing thing here is when reading the book is , how many of these famous mafia members when arrested talked and then took Witness Protection. We must have in USA many mafia members living under the Witness Protection Programme, maybe more than those who end up in prison. How many top mafia members snitched/talked about the boss's of the five families. Also how many mafia members are buried and hidden never to be found, hundreds I am sure. This book is like reading a history book, well it was I guess. It is tense and exciting, thrilling, no, but interesting, shocking and brutal. Four stars.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    This book attempts to cover a wide period in the history of the New York Mafia - from the days of Prohibition, when the streets of the city were awash with illicit booze and the Mafia was coalescing into an organisation from the disparate rabble that it previously was, to the turn of the twenty first century, when many of the old values put in place by Lucky Luciano in the early thirties were being dismissed by a new brand of more selfish, individualistic mafioso. It is probably the most comprehe This book attempts to cover a wide period in the history of the New York Mafia - from the days of Prohibition, when the streets of the city were awash with illicit booze and the Mafia was coalescing into an organisation from the disparate rabble that it previously was, to the turn of the twenty first century, when many of the old values put in place by Lucky Luciano in the early thirties were being dismissed by a new brand of more selfish, individualistic mafioso. It is probably the most comprehensive book I've read on the topic, not only in the period of history it covers, but also in the depth of information which it provides. It would therefore be fair to say that it is rich in information and very educational for anyone interested in the subject. My main criticism would be that it is not always the easiest book to follow, skipping over some aspects which would perhaps benefot from further explanation. I still do not have a full understanding of how unions and the construction industry were manipulated. A lot of the discussion on the Mafia's influence on blue collar industry were sketchy, making the pages which did contain information less valuable than they would have been had this been delved into in more detail. This only serves to prolong the book unnecessarily. Nonetheless, historical explanation of the origins of the mafia, the lawless escapades of some of the early bosses and descriptions of how mafioso thought and operated were fascinating and made this book well worth the effort required to complete it.

  4. 5 out of 5

    EOB

    A poorly edited headache of a book with little to offer on top of its primary sources in the LCN non-fiction canon as to be a near-total waste of time. Somehow includes less material on the pre-Apalachin period than your average Wikipedia article, but packs in more sensational junk about John Gotti than the New York Post and all the books written by his family combined. Departures from its chronological organization are frequent, making an already long and complex history even harder to follow t A poorly edited headache of a book with little to offer on top of its primary sources in the LCN non-fiction canon as to be a near-total waste of time. Somehow includes less material on the pre-Apalachin period than your average Wikipedia article, but packs in more sensational junk about John Gotti than the New York Post and all the books written by his family combined. Departures from its chronological organization are frequent, making an already long and complex history even harder to follow than necessary (even for someone familiar with the subject matter). On top of this a sanctimonious, law-enforcement-triumphalist tone I find unwelcome. I put this thing down after finishing about 70% and read _Donnie Brasco_ instead: I recommend you skip it altogether and go straight to the primary sources.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Bookshark

    This is a pretty comprehensive overview of the mob. It's useful for putting a timeline together in your head and there were a few interesting new stories, but the more exposure you already have to mafia non-fiction the fewer surprises will be in store. As an overview, it never really gets into all that much depth about any particular story or individual (understandably, as it would have required a multi-volume set to do that), so you will find a more complete and complex account in books that fo This is a pretty comprehensive overview of the mob. It's useful for putting a timeline together in your head and there were a few interesting new stories, but the more exposure you already have to mafia non-fiction the fewer surprises will be in store. As an overview, it never really gets into all that much depth about any particular story or individual (understandably, as it would have required a multi-volume set to do that), so you will find a more complete and complex account in books that focus on one era/event/mobster. I did find out a few things I didn't know before, though - for instance, I didn't know about all the controversy surrounding Kurins and O'Brien's Boss of Bosses or the various ways the mob infiltrated law enforcement (even the FBI!) or all that much about the Gaspipe Casso stuff. Also the tone can be a bit moral-panicky, especially towards the end. For instance, the commentary on the Sopranos was very silly ("OMG it glorifies the mob" - mmm not really, or at least far less so than the classic mafia films; "a mafia leader could never see a shrink or it would make him look weak" - yep that's a plot point on the show, they deal with that directly; frankly one of the most interesting things about this book was noting which plots from the Sopranos were based on real events!). Similarly, the commentary on gender and the mob seemed like a disingenuous tack-on (it's certainly true that the mob is sexist, but surely the author could have done a better job illuminating that as he told the individual stories of mobsters throughout the book, by mentioning all the cheating and domestic violence and pimping that was happening at the same time as the other crimes and immoralities he found worthy of mention). He does at least occasionally criticize the FBI and the other government investigations, at least.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Tanya Faberson

    So I am FINALLY done with this book. It was very good, but at times I felt like I was slogging through it. Considering how much I generally enjoy slog-worthy books (the denser the better), I'm not sure what my issue is with this one. First of all, it was well-written and the information was really interesting. Secondly, I learned a lot of details on mob history I didn't know. But that's it. I didn't look forward to reading it. I certainly didn't choose to read it over knitting or doing something So I am FINALLY done with this book. It was very good, but at times I felt like I was slogging through it. Considering how much I generally enjoy slog-worthy books (the denser the better), I'm not sure what my issue is with this one. First of all, it was well-written and the information was really interesting. Secondly, I learned a lot of details on mob history I didn't know. But that's it. I didn't look forward to reading it. I certainly didn't choose to read it over knitting or doing something else, like listening to my audiobook on the Gulag (it's awesome, but a bit of a slogger, too, in parts). I didn't dread reading Five Families either. It just "was." Kind of like having to read ethnography upon ethnography in graduate school, or worse, articles and more articles on archaeological studies of hunters and gatherers in the prehistoric past. I'm an archaeologist. I should love that shit no matter what. But at times, that shit (coprolites anyone?) was torture. (Good thing I'm a historical archaeologist - no hunter gatherers in places like Louisville and Lexington in the late nineteenth century). Anyway, enough rambling. I guess my point is (finally), that I would recommend this book if you are really interested in the history of the mafia; in particular, the events that occurred from the 1970s through the 1990s. The court case histories probably were my favorite part of the book. It's good. Just don't anticipate anything too sensational. You'll just be disappointed and start watching reruns of The Sopranos, dripping tears onto your biscotti, hoping to finally get your "mob fix" (I didn't do that by the way - it's just with all the mafia stuff on TV these days [Mafia Wives, anyone?], people can't get enough of the sensationalism).

  7. 4 out of 5

    Travis

    Perhaps a tad bit wordy for what it was.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Bill K.

    Loved it

  9. 4 out of 5

    Faye Zheng

    (So I didn’t really finish it, but considering the book was 750 dense pages and I made it through half, I’m counting it.) I’ll admit I wanted to read this because I was watching The Sopranos for the first time, and became really curious about comparing the show with historical facts. That, and I’ve always been a big lover of mafia films and fascinated by the social concept of “crime as a family”. The book did not disappoint. Many parts described scenes straight out of a movie, with violent assass (So I didn’t really finish it, but considering the book was 750 dense pages and I made it through half, I’m counting it.) I’ll admit I wanted to read this because I was watching The Sopranos for the first time, and became really curious about comparing the show with historical facts. That, and I’ve always been a big lover of mafia films and fascinated by the social concept of “crime as a family”. The book did not disappoint. Many parts described scenes straight out of a movie, with violent assassinations, sharp-tongued gangsters, corrupt politicians, ethnic rivalries, and all manners of rackets - except that it was all true. Cool things I learned: - Italian American organized crime originated with bootlegging during Prohibition - the social organization of the 5 families and how their central governance allowed for inter-family peace for 70 years - how the FBI for decades turned a blind eye, even willfully denying the existence of the organization - how Cosa Nostra at their peak was responsible for 90% of heroin trafficking into the US - most amazingly, the not terribly crazy conspiracy theory that the organization might have orchestrated the assassination of JFK I would say that the book was not written not so much for the purposes of entertainment as much as for a comprehensive historical accounting. Readers not as inherently fascinated by the Italian American mafia as I am might find this book to be overly pedantic, but I quite enjoyed the level of detail.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    This is a good book about the Five Families in New York. It focuses on the past fifty years, so if you want a book that covers the 20's and 30's look elsewhere. The author argues that the FBI did not focus on the mafia until Hoover was out. He gives a lot of credit to the Kennedy's in the 60's, the FBI in the 70'-90s and Giuliani as police commissioner and mayor. He thinks 9/11 has undermined efforts as the focus has shifted towards counter terrorism.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    The definitive book on the mafia. A comprehensive, thoughtful and well-researched look into La Cosa Nostra from its birth until the early days of the century.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Iain

    The five families of New York City: Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese, and Lucchese are The Commission or the governing body of the American Mafia, formed in 1931 by Charles "Lucky" Luciano. Since then, the Mob has occupied a larger the life sway over the criminal underworld and the imagination of the public. The myriad of characters of godfathers, cappos, and soldiers, along with the FBI agents, police, and prosecutors who have waged war with each other and played out in the newspapers and ni The five families of New York City: Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese, and Lucchese are The Commission or the governing body of the American Mafia, formed in 1931 by Charles "Lucky" Luciano. Since then, the Mob has occupied a larger the life sway over the criminal underworld and the imagination of the public. The myriad of characters of godfathers, cappos, and soldiers, along with the FBI agents, police, and prosecutors who have waged war with each other and played out in the newspapers and nightly news. Hollywood has only amplified this cultural phenomenon taking these stories and immortalizing them in films like The Godfather trilogy, Goodfellas, Casino, Donnie Brasco, Gotti, Once Upon a Time in America, On the Waterfront, The Untouchables, The Sopranos, among many others. 'Five Families: The Rise , Decline, and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires' (2005) by Selwyn Rabb is a definitive history of this criminal underworld. A New York City based reporter who has gathered a mountain of material over 30 years is finally put into this book. What makes Raab so wonderful is that he eschews legend and suspect anecdotage in favor of a Joe Friday-style just-the-facts-ma'am approach. "Raab divides his mass of reportage into three sections: one on Mafia history to 1970; a second on the F.B.I.'s awakening and the use of new RICO laws that culminated in the so-called Commission trial of 1985; and a final section that charts the subsequent fates of each of the five families, or borgatas, as Raab properly terms them. "In quick, deft strokes, Raab explains how the mob was created in 1931 -- by Charles Lucky Luciano -- as a treaty settling the street battles of two Italian outfits.From there the boldfaced names fly by. Tom Dewey, Frank Costello, Albert Anastasia, Dutch Schultz, Abe Reles -- the gang's all here. "Five Families" sags a bit as Raab introduces the generation of youngish prosecutors and F.B.I. agents who finally rouse law enforcement from decades of slumber to confront the mob in the late 1970's. But he hits his stride when he reaches the gangsters he knows best, those who presided over the Mafia's decline in the 1980's and 90's. Paul Castellano, John Gotti and Sammy Gravano spring to life for the first time in years, and Raab tells their story with precision and gusto." "The book's finest moments are reserved for Gotti's lesser-known peers, scary third-rate mooks like Anthony Gaspipe Casso of the Luccheses, Carmine the Snake Persico of the Colombos and Joe the Ear Massino of the wheezing Bonannos. Their Shakespearean outer-borough downfalls, heretofore banished to inside pages of The New York Post, bring Macbeth to Maspeth. New York's mob families, it seems, could weather Rudy Guiliani and Donnie Brasco, but they were helpless against their own. When Sammy the Bull trashed omertà by cutting a deal with prosecutors, the floodgates of betrayal swung open, never to be closed. Dozens of Mafiosi squealed before heading off to ranch-house retirements in the Witness Protection Program. When a godfather, Gaspipe Casso, joined the rat parade, the Mafia's fate was sealed." An excellent read to shine a light into the mafia underworld. If it's not your thing... "Forget about it!"

  13. 5 out of 5

    Manny

    If you are fascinated with all things mob, this book is for you. Raab covers a plethora of mobsters and law enforcement agents that interacted, investigated, infiltrated and in some cases arrested the mafiosi. The book is a good "middle-ground" between mafiosi and LOA. Raab covers the rise and subsequent fall of the "Cosa Nostra". The author covers some off the well known mafiosi and some of the not so known. I was really surprised how close the mafia was to the Democratic Party. It was always kn If you are fascinated with all things mob, this book is for you. Raab covers a plethora of mobsters and law enforcement agents that interacted, investigated, infiltrated and in some cases arrested the mafiosi. The book is a good "middle-ground" between mafiosi and LOA. Raab covers the rise and subsequent fall of the "Cosa Nostra". The author covers some off the well known mafiosi and some of the not so known. I was really surprised how close the mafia was to the Democratic Party. It was always known about the Mob's involvement in Labor Unions but this book adds some clarity as to the level of involvement. Although not a political book, it does show the corruption, specifically on the Democratic Party. Some of the former mafiosi covered in this book: Charles "Lucky" Luciano Vito Genovese Frank Costello Carlo Gambino Joe Masseria Albert Anastasia Louis "lepkeleh" Buchalter Santo Trafficante John Gotti Because of the amount characters and the overlapping timelines, the books does travel forward and backwards in time which is a bit of a pain, but not too bad and right away you are back engaged in the story.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Anu

    This was a very detailed and excellent chronic on the (mainly NY) mafia. Not that much new information to anyone who has studied the subject before, but the writer has gone into lot of effort in viewing the timeline from different perspectives and offers more depth than an average telling of this history. My only complaint is the short analysis in the end of the book about the Sopranos; as an avid fan who has seen the series several times I don't see the show as romanticizing criminals, rather i This was a very detailed and excellent chronic on the (mainly NY) mafia. Not that much new information to anyone who has studied the subject before, but the writer has gone into lot of effort in viewing the timeline from different perspectives and offers more depth than an average telling of this history. My only complaint is the short analysis in the end of the book about the Sopranos; as an avid fan who has seen the series several times I don't see the show as romanticizing criminals, rather it's a view on how horrible, greedy and cold the whole thing is, how talk about honor and principles are warped and how anything - including family - can be sacrificed before profit. This side note takes less than 1 % of the book though, so no biggie. Will probably return to this for fact checking and references on further reading.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    You could whack somebody with this book, a 750 page history of the mafia in New York that covers eight decades of gang activity and law enforcement's efforts to curtail it. Raab is a thorough writer, a former NYT crime reporter, and this is a lot of material to cover, but he still desperately needs an editor as there is an abundance of needless repetition and some sections should be eliminated completely. The book starts slowly but picks up speed when it reaches the more "modern" events, includi You could whack somebody with this book, a 750 page history of the mafia in New York that covers eight decades of gang activity and law enforcement's efforts to curtail it. Raab is a thorough writer, a former NYT crime reporter, and this is a lot of material to cover, but he still desperately needs an editor as there is an abundance of needless repetition and some sections should be eliminated completely. The book starts slowly but picks up speed when it reaches the more "modern" events, including the Commission trial in the 80s and the Gotti case in the early 90s.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tony

    At its best, Five Families reads like a textbook, presenting interesting and exciting events in the dullest manner imaginable. The rest of the time, the book is simply a disorganized mess. Raab obviously did a tremendous amount of impressive research and is able to relate individual incidents in a cogent--albeit tedious--manner. However, Five Families lacks any sort of macro structure. The narrative constantly jumps from one incident or mobster to another. These transitions routinely also involv At its best, Five Families reads like a textbook, presenting interesting and exciting events in the dullest manner imaginable. The rest of the time, the book is simply a disorganized mess. Raab obviously did a tremendous amount of impressive research and is able to relate individual incidents in a cogent--albeit tedious--manner. However, Five Families lacks any sort of macro structure. The narrative constantly jumps from one incident or mobster to another. These transitions routinely also involve a time shift with events in one section often taking place decades earlier than those covered in the previous segment. Getting through this poorly written and terribly edited 785 page behemoth was a true choir.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Nick Black

    detailed and authoritative, but long, so so long, with enough careless repetition to indicate poor editing. I don't think I'll read another Mafia book for at least several years.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    Well written, but VERY long. Wish it was a little more concise. Interesting history of the Mafia in New York. Good choice if you want a meaty non-fiction about a little known topic.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Michael Smith

    If you ever wanted to read just one book on the Mob , this is it. This is an encyclopaedic history of the Mafia and its history. It is full of fascinating stories and gives you a solid grounding in the criminals who operated in it and those who prosecuted them. This is a great read.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Derrick

    Would have gave 20 stars if possible. What an amazing epic tale. I was so sad when I finished reading this book. I didn't want it to end. The most in-depth telling of the five families. I don't ever expect to find a more authoritative book about the American Mafia. I knew nothing of the more "recent" mafia figureheads. This book even goes fairly in-depth about them. Jaw-dropping from start to finish, I was totally blown away. (Maybe a poor choice of words considering the aforementioned subject m Would have gave 20 stars if possible. What an amazing epic tale. I was so sad when I finished reading this book. I didn't want it to end. The most in-depth telling of the five families. I don't ever expect to find a more authoritative book about the American Mafia. I knew nothing of the more "recent" mafia figureheads. This book even goes fairly in-depth about them. Jaw-dropping from start to finish, I was totally blown away. (Maybe a poor choice of words considering the aforementioned subject matter but hey what can ya do?)

  21. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    A serviceable history of the Mafia. It's comprehensive, but it glosses over the first fifty years or so. The book gets much stronger in its second half, which focuses on the past twenty years. Here, Raab takes on each of the five families in turn, and the figures finally come alive--from the flamboyant (John Gotti) to the sadistic (Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso). Overall, though, the writing never rises above workmanlike, and the book really could have used one more thorough edit, both to cut its length A serviceable history of the Mafia. It's comprehensive, but it glosses over the first fifty years or so. The book gets much stronger in its second half, which focuses on the past twenty years. Here, Raab takes on each of the five families in turn, and the figures finally come alive--from the flamboyant (John Gotti) to the sadistic (Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso). Overall, though, the writing never rises above workmanlike, and the book really could have used one more thorough edit, both to cut its length (topping 700 pages) and to catch nagging errors.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Nicholas Maulucci

    This is the most thorough mafia book I've ever read. Very comprehensive, yet enjoyable and interesting most of the way through even though it is more than 700 pages. The chapters are short and informative. This is a must read for anyone interested in the American mafia of the 30's through the 2000's in New York City. It details the five families of New York City. Excellent book.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Chase Parsley

    “Five Families” is a very detailed account of the Italian mafia in New York City. From Lucky Luciano creating “the Commission” in the 1930s to the early 2000s, just about every stone is unturned in this book. The influence the mafia families have wielded over time is staggering. Also, it is interesting and sad to realize how the public glorifies the Italian mafia and its leaders (in tv, cinema, etc.). In the end, they are criminals who cause damage to society. If anything, this book proves that “Five Families” is a very detailed account of the Italian mafia in New York City. From Lucky Luciano creating “the Commission” in the 1930s to the early 2000s, just about every stone is unturned in this book. The influence the mafia families have wielded over time is staggering. Also, it is interesting and sad to realize how the public glorifies the Italian mafia and its leaders (in tv, cinema, etc.). In the end, they are criminals who cause damage to society. If anything, this book proves that fighting organized crime is worth the public cost. The best part of the book, in my view, is all the stuff about the various mafia bosses. This was quite a cast of characters! My favorites include: - Frank “the Prime Minister” Costello who ran a very powerful mafia family into the 1950s, was very well-connected, and lived an upper crust lifestyle. - Joe Colombo (reminded me of Gus from “Breaking Bad”) who created a nation-wide Italian-American League to protest negative Italian stereotypes, like the mafia. The whole thing was a cover and he did an impressive job hiding in public! Ironically, he was shot while giving a speech! - Vincent “the Chin” Gigante, who pretended to be mentally handicapped for decades just to throw off law enforcement. Wow! - John “the Dapper Don” Gotti, who had a brief but spectacular reign in the 1980s/early ‘90s. He loved being the boss and was wildly popular, even though he wound up in jail. His right-hand man, Sammy “the Bull” Gravano, ratted on everyone to avoid jail, but amazingly blew it by going back into crime, running a huge ecstasy ring in Arizona! You can’t make this stuff up. I rate this one 4/5 stars because it was a bit long (over 700 pages) and a bit heavy on the criminal enforcement side. I would have liked to have read even more about the gangsters themselves. But other than that it is a marvelous read! PS I didn’t realize this, but three of the all-time top mafia fighters were Thomas Dewey, Bobby Kennedy, and Rudy Giuliani!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mitch

    “This friggin’ guy! A beep a d’boop! That’s the only thing that went through my head while reading this massive tome. Heyyyy! This is sort of the all purpose mob book. At least for New York. You got your Colombos, your Bonannos, your Gambinos, your Luccheses and your Genoveses. A beep a d’boop! All them started because Sicily didn’t really have any government or cops so the mafia took over and made everything shitty for everyone. So people left for America, the spicy meatball! Their criminal ten “This friggin’ guy! A beep a d’boop! That’s the only thing that went through my head while reading this massive tome. Heyyyy! This is sort of the all purpose mob book. At least for New York. You got your Colombos, your Bonannos, your Gambinos, your Luccheses and your Genoveses. A beep a d’boop! All them started because Sicily didn’t really have any government or cops so the mafia took over and made everything shitty for everyone. So people left for America, the spicy meatball! Their criminal tendencies came with and they ended up setting up borgatas and getting into rackets. Shaking down immigrants, gambling, being thieves. Then the beep a d’boops sort of shook out into 5 main groups and Lucky Luciano decides everybody should sit down and figure out how not to fight each other. The mafia isn’t cool. These guys all seem like parasitic pieces of shit. It you’re a New Yorker wondering why everything is super expensive, these assholes have a lot to do with it. They squeeze construction companies, unions, trucking companies, trash haulers, garment makers, etc. Everything is preyed on by the mob and the costs get passed down to the end consumer. So fuck them for that. Also unions seems like total scams and just a way to line slimy pockets. So fuck unions too. A beep a d’boop! Seems like for all the murdering and going to prison the payoff is pretty underwhelming. Mob dudes still live in shitty places like Canarsie and Ozone Park and hang out in shitty deep Brooklyn social clubs. Other than the freedom of not being governed by any laws until you get caught, the life doesn’t seem that enticing. Some of the stories I kinda knew. The Castellamarese War, Gotti/Castellano, Sammy the Bull, The DeMeo Crew, Vinny the Chin. But there were fresh ones too. Gaspipe Casso was a bad man. They should make a movie about him. Anthony Massino was fat and smart. In the end they all turn on each other in some way or another and it is revealed that all of them are disgusting people. A beep a d’boop!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    Excellent history of the five major crime families in NY city. Very thorough and well written. It is big book and may be too detailed for some but I found it fascinating. Took me awhile though. While reading the repeated cycles of rise and fall of the great mafia godfathers I kept thinking of these verses from the book of Proverbs. Pro 1:10-19 "My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent. If they say, "Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood; let us ambush the innocent without reason; like Excellent history of the five major crime families in NY city. Very thorough and well written. It is big book and may be too detailed for some but I found it fascinating. Took me awhile though. While reading the repeated cycles of rise and fall of the great mafia godfathers I kept thinking of these verses from the book of Proverbs. Pro 1:10-19 "My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent. If they say, "Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood; let us ambush the innocent without reason; like Sheol let us swallow them alive, and whole, like those who go down to the pit; we shall find all precious goods, we shall fill our houses with plunder; throw in your lot among us; we will all have one purse"--my son, do not walk in the way with them; hold back your foot from their paths, for their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood. For in vain is a net spread in the sight of any bird, but these men lie in wait for their own blood; they set an ambush for their own lives. Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain; it takes away the life of its possessors."

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jacob Frank

    An exhaustive and magisterial treatment of its subject, this book reads like the product of a lifetime of research and experience, which is what I gather that it is, in that Raab was 70 when the book was published in ‘05. Lessons learned from the book: First, that the mafia functions like a vast parasite, sapping resources from the economy and making a myriad of goods and services more expensive for the public. Second, that the myth of the mafia as a society of “honorable” people was always just An exhaustive and magisterial treatment of its subject, this book reads like the product of a lifetime of research and experience, which is what I gather that it is, in that Raab was 70 when the book was published in ‘05. Lessons learned from the book: First, that the mafia functions like a vast parasite, sapping resources from the economy and making a myriad of goods and services more expensive for the public. Second, that the myth of the mafia as a society of “honorable” people was always just that; betrayal was more of a defining characteristic of mafia relationships than loyalty, and this has been one of the keys to dismantling the mob: they always turn on one another to save themselves. Third, changes in the US legal system, particularly ‘Title 3’ surveillance legislation and the RICO anti-racketeering statutes, had been remarkably effective in combating the mob since the 1980’s; however a diversion of resources in the post-9/11 have allowed the families the space to regroup and expand again. In sum, an excellent book, though a bit overwhelming. I feel as though I've completed a class.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jerry Jares

    In the old days, many, if not most, district attorneys turned a blind eye to the murders and other business dealings of the gangs (Italian, Irish and Jewish) that preyed upon their own people. With the arrival of the Kennedy brothers, the government got serious about the Mafia. Through the efforts of Robert Kennedy, large numbers of the Mafia were finding themselves with long terms in prison.  When the Kennedy's were killed, the Mafia went back to 'business as usual' until the RICO acts were pas In the old days, many, if not most, district attorneys turned a blind eye to the murders and other business dealings of the gangs (Italian, Irish and Jewish) that preyed upon their own people. With the arrival of the Kennedy brothers, the government got serious about the Mafia. Through the efforts of Robert Kennedy, large numbers of the Mafia were finding themselves with long terms in prison.  When the Kennedy's were killed, the Mafia went back to 'business as usual' until the RICO acts were passed by the federal government in 1970. The afterword warns that the Mafia may be down but it definitely is not out.  Raab wards that the Mafia is flexible and able to learn from its mistakes.  However, the FBI, since 9/11 has turned their eyes and money towards terrorism.  In such an indifferent atmosphere, the Mafia will undoubtedly return. The research that went into this book deserves a 5-star rating alone.  However, the author tells the story in a fascinating manner; it also deserves the highest rating.  I think this is the best book I've read about the Mob.  Absolutely amazing book.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Keith

    An interesting, serviceable history of the Five Families, with serious flaws. It very much relies on the Great Man historical motif - we learn a lot about godfathers and capos, not much about soldiers, and surprisingly little about how the rackets worked. Practically everybody in the book is prosecuted for loansharking at some point, but we never even get a flavour of how the business of loansharking was carried out on a day-to-day basis. The book also glosses over the early days in favour of the An interesting, serviceable history of the Five Families, with serious flaws. It very much relies on the Great Man historical motif - we learn a lot about godfathers and capos, not much about soldiers, and surprisingly little about how the rackets worked. Practically everybody in the book is prosecuted for loansharking at some point, but we never even get a flavour of how the business of loansharking was carried out on a day-to-day basis. The book also glosses over the early days in favour of the 80s and 90s Cosa Nostra, and I think this exposes the greatest flaw in the book - it naturally relies on law enforcement and turncoat evidence, which is far more bountiful in the latter history of the Mafia than in the early days, and which is self-serving. Every fact is projected through a distorted lens, and there is a nagging doubt throughout the book that I wasn't getting the full picture.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Trey Malone

    This (overlong) read describes in vivid detail the struggle between the Italian mafia and the FBI. Outside of what I've seen in film over the years, I knew very little about how these shadow organizations made their money, and I am very grateful to this book for describing the economics of mob activity. I learned more than I ever needed to know about organized crime in New York City, but the title of the book is something of a misnomer. Much of the discussion focused on how the government sought This (overlong) read describes in vivid detail the struggle between the Italian mafia and the FBI. Outside of what I've seen in film over the years, I knew very little about how these shadow organizations made their money, and I am very grateful to this book for describing the economics of mob activity. I learned more than I ever needed to know about organized crime in New York City, but the title of the book is something of a misnomer. Much of the discussion focused on how the government sought to bring down the crime bosses, and not enough of the book described AMERICA'S mafia empires. Maybe I should have just understood that "Five Families" indicated the five NYC families, and that those families do not have TOO much national power. All in all, I'm glad I read this book, but believe that a solid 200 pages could have been cut.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Tim Schneider

    I read this over about seven months, mostly while waiting for clients at jail or between Court hearings. Sometimes that can effect how I view a book. In this case I don't think it did. There was about 1/3 of the book I wanted to read here. That was the birth and early days of La Cosa Nostra. I recognize that Raab was covering everything and so he wasn't going to stop at the Apalachin Meeting or Valachi. The problem was that 2/3 of the book was devoted to the last 15 or so years of what Raab was I read this over about seven months, mostly while waiting for clients at jail or between Court hearings. Sometimes that can effect how I view a book. In this case I don't think it did. There was about 1/3 of the book I wanted to read here. That was the birth and early days of La Cosa Nostra. I recognize that Raab was covering everything and so he wasn't going to stop at the Apalachin Meeting or Valachi. The problem was that 2/3 of the book was devoted to the last 15 or so years of what Raab was covering and the earlier history, in my opinion, got short shrift. It was a good read overall. But at times it felt like Italian alphabet soup. And I just think that maybe it was too much to try to shove into one book.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.