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Operation Family Secre...
Frank Calabrese Jr.
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Operation Family Secrets: How a Mobster's Son and the FBI Brought down Chicago's Murderous Crime Family

3.58  ·  Rating Details ·  674 Ratings  ·  79 Reviews

Operation Family Secrets is the chilling true story of how the son of the most violent mobster in Chicago made the unprecedented decision to work with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to incriminate his own father and to help bring down the last great American crime syndicate—the one-hundred-year-old Chicago Outfit.

The Calabrese family of Chicago is a close-knit, mid

Library Binding, 0 pages
Published May 16th 2011 by Tantor Media, Inc. (first published January 1st 2011)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,490)
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Jon-david Mafia Hairdresser
I did a book signing with Frank Calabese Jr. last year for my book Mafia Hairdresserbecause it was a Chicago mafia themed book signing. The signing was actually at Bella Luna, a well-known mob restaurant I still frequent often.
For those of you who don't know this, Frank is the man who went to prison with his own murderous father for "tax reasons," and he was wire-tapped while in prison talking to his dad. This brought down the whole entire Chicago old-school mob!
Frank is a hero, even to some of
May 31, 2011 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I heard an interview with the author on NPR a while ago and decided I should read the book. I wasn't disappointed at all.

The author (with help) writes a clear, clean description of what it was like to grow up with his father, a made man in the Chicago Mob. He shows how the different groups interact and how some people actually switch allegiances, not always with retribution.

But the best part is his own personal story. Basically, his father groomed him to join the ranks most of his life. He start
Jul 30, 2012 Rachel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mafia stories like The Godfather and The Sopranos have always intrigued me. It was interesting to read a real-life Mafia story and see how the "movie Mafia" differs from it. I have to say that there is not much difference at all. Frank Calabrese, Jr. is a brave man to not only refuse to enter the witness protection program but then to also co-author a tell-all book about growing up with a father in the Chicago Mafia, which is known as the Outfit.

I realize that the names of the people were out of
Hot Cup O'Monkey
Feb 06, 2013 Hot Cup O'Monkey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh my...what, I ask, would you do--if you were born the son of a ruthless Chicago hitman, who could alternately show you love, then cruelly betrays you, coldly uses you & involves you in crime, and threatens your life?

Frank Calabrese Jr. explains exactly what it's like in his chilling, can't-put-it-down book, "Operation Family Secrets: How a Mobster's Son and the FBI Brought Down Chicago's Murderous Crime Family". I'd heard an interview with the author on NPR's "Fresh Air" and had to learn m
J.E. Jr.
Jul 21, 2012 J.E. Jr. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like many other readers, I heard an NPR interview with the author, Frank Calabrese Jr., in which he discussed the events he describes in detail in the book. Here’s a man who turned against his “made-man” mobster father and helped the FBI, then elected NOT to enter witness protection after. I was struck by one particular moment in the interview when questioned how he feels about the fact that, if his father should ever get out of prison, his father may come looking for him? His response was simpl ...more
Drew Zagorski
Jul 26, 2012 Drew Zagorski rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: true-crime
OK, so a lot of the reader review groused about the quality of the writing in this book. The book was written by a mobster, so the prose is decidedly not of Shakespeare or Steinbeck quality. Get past that and you'll be good to go.

I've always been fascinated with novels, bios, true crime books about the mob, and I grew up in Bridgeport (saw The Godfather at The Ramova Theatre when I was 7 - - and was hooked from then on), so was particularly interested in t
Joseph Ribera
Mar 11, 2012 Joseph Ribera rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is chilling to know there are people amongst us like Frank Calabrese, Sr. and his "associates" in the Chicago mafia. Hollywood and popular fiction have exposed us to the antics and mores of "made" men in organized crime, but no one could have invented Frank Sr.

A basic rule in an organization based on breaking all civil rules is that you do not bring the business into your home. Frank Sr. not only made his sons and brother engage in criminal acts, but treated them like all his other prey. This
Good book written in collaboration with a couple other authors. This is the Son who turned on his father and took down a huge portion of the local outfit. Guy did some time and wore a wire on own Dad in the can. His Uncle turned as well.

Pretty interesting read for me personally due to all the recent action in the Western Chicago suburbs where I live. I receommend the read if you are into the more recent Chicago Organized crime. Pretty interesting wtist with ultimately the Son turning in the Fat
Oct 30, 2013 Milka rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I probably wouldn't have picked this book off the shelf out of my own curiosity but I had to read it for my book club. And in the end, I'm glad I read this book and this fascinating true story about the lives and deaths of Chicago mafia mobsters. It was interesting to learn how families got into the "business", and how hard it was/is to get out. Reading about the many cold-blooded executions, the money schemes, the corruption, all of whom have inspired the famous movies we've all seen felt surre ...more
Mary G
Jul 26, 2014 Mary G rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Heard the interview on NPR and had to read the book. It was good. Narrated by the author. Not usually my genre but glad I listened. It's good to branch out every once in a while.
Oct 05, 2015 Derek rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mafia
This is a fast paced book. I had to remind myself that this was not the Chicago mobster violence of the twenties. This is an excellent book to learn about the Vhicago "Outfit".
Mary Elizabeth O'Connor
Loved this!! I did not want it to end!
Please can there be a sequel? I want to read more of the backstory of Frank Jr.'s mother - her family and how she met her husband, etc. - or anything else - this was great!!
Apr 10, 2016 Noel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great story about Frank Calabrese Jr. making a hard decision to work with the FBI and help put away his father Frank Calabrese Sr. for good.
Amar Pai
Jul 20, 2015 Amar Pai rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm a sucker for this kind of story. Son of Hamas is another good one.
Jun 19, 2011 judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Not elegantly written but a good, straight forward recounting of the take down of a particularly murderous Chicago mob. Regardless of how omnipotent mobsters seem on TV and in the movies, I found them unimpressive. The trick, unfortunately, is getting enough evidence to take an entire organization out, rather than going at them one by one. Must say I was horrified when I realized that five days a week, morning and evening for years,I was on a train passing through suburbs where some of the big b ...more
Wendy Krueger
Nov 19, 2015 Wendy Krueger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had to admire the author for the difficult decision he made.
Feb 27, 2014 Josh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As an organized crime observer. I was aware but didn't know much about the Family Secrets trial. Which took place a few years ago in Chicago. This book helped me understand it a little better. Not only did this book help me understand the trial, but it also helped me understand the relationship and family life of Frank Calabrese Sr. with his children, and other relatives. Let me just say it was an interesting book. I think anyone who's interested in reading about the modern day organized crime f ...more
J.m. Darhower
Mar 06, 2012 J.m. Darhower rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this to be a relatively quick and easy read. I admittedly already knew the basics of the story and a bit about most of the key players, so I didn't have any trouble keeping up with it. It was packed full of facts and details, so I can see how others could be confused by who did what and when.

At times it was disturbing, but there were moments I laughed at their ability to keep a sense of humor. It's a bit frightening, to be honest.

Kudos to Frankie Jr for taking a stand. The world is a bet
Jan 04, 2013 Diana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
True life, current era! story of how the son of the Chicago mob confesses to the FBI and brings down his father and uncle and many other murdereres and mobsters from Chicago. Murder, mayhem and greed drive the Outfit to extortion and murder only to find themselves behind bars. Hard to believe this level of lawlessness continues in the USA! Worth reading just to be aware of what is probably still at large in our society. Without criminals deciding to coperate with the FBI, these guys never would ...more
Apr 05, 2011 Bob rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Goes into some detail about the Outfit's operation in Chicago. A lot of the principals lived near my current neck of the woods. Curious to learn more about this. So far, I'm a bit dissapointed, either Goodfellas, Sopranos, etc are incredibly realistic or Frank is borrowing heavily from these films, etc. to inform his own personal history and fill in the gaps for events he wasn't physically present at. I think those cultural sources, and others like them, are fairly realistic, but the similaritie ...more
John Arnette
Apr 28, 2016 John Arnette rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great pulp reading.
Jul 23, 2011 Brian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biographies, history
Only once in my life have I experience the quintessential movie moment where everyone you encounter one morning is reading the same article from the newspaper. When I lived in Chicago, during the period of about a week, almost everyone I passed reading a newspaper was reading about "Family Secrets" in the Tribune. I got this book as a result. An interesting insight into the criminal mind and the inner workings of the mafia. Not something I hope to need to know much about, but interesting nonethe ...more
Apr 21, 2011 Jacob rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reality
Meh... I wasn't thrilled with this, it seemed more of a "mobsters are cool but I'm still a good guy" books, except real. Not my cup of tea. Either way, I'm sure it's a good look at the kind of mentality that it takes to be in the mob in the first place, but it's not something I'll ever be revisiting. Frankly, the author (if you could call him that) is kind of a whiny little punk who got hopped up on cocaine and thought he was a legitimate business man who used mob money. Again, Meh.
Jan 02, 2014 Tim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Honest story of life in a mob family from the inside. Calabrese explains the mindset of his life growing up in such an environment, without sugar-coating or romanticizing the lifestyle. Mobsters are not hero and Calabrese outlines it in clear and honest terms. If there were any heroes in this story it was the police who were not crooked, and the author and his brother.
Would recommend to a fan of crime real-life stories. Quick read with the authors voice coming through clearly.

Apr 01, 2012 Kara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not a great book but a totally amazing, unbelievable and extraordinary true story about the mob that takes place in and around Chicago, so I of course liked it immensely. If you are familiar with Goodfellas, the Godfather, Casino (the true stories behind each film, of course) and this book (which basically must become a Scorsese movie at some point), you have a relatively detailed working knowledge of American 20th century organized crime. Delightful.
Jul 12, 2013 Alison rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was pretty interesting, but I'd think that with the help of ghostwriters, it would've been better written. The prose was awkward in parts, and a lot of the mafia goings-on in the first half of the book were hard to follow. Things picked up considerably in the second half, though, and the wiretapping and trial stuff was quite good. I'd recommend this for anyone like me who is interested in true crime stories that don't fetishize the perpetrators.
Apr 26, 2012 Margo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was super interesting. It had a lot of different characters to keep straight but even if you get a little lost the overall concept and theme is easy to follow. I didn't know a lot about the mob scene in Chicago which might have helped me follow a long a little bit easier. Overall I really liked the book and my heart goes out to the sons of Frank Sr. I couldn't even image having to deal with the situations they were put in.
Mar 28, 2013 Maria rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
20130327 Super sloppy guilty pleasure. Books like this aren't usually on my radar, but I heard a really moving interview with Frank Calabrese Jr. on NPR, so I downloaded the audiobook. Crazy stuff! FCJ is a very brave man to have worked with the Feds on the indictment his father, uncle, and numerous other violent criminals. An incredible, sobering story, clearly detailed and simply written. Great narration by Todd McLaren. ...more
Dawn Briscoe
I tried to like this book, but after the first few chapters I realized I was tired of reading it and forcing myself to continue. It seemed to be the same story over & over and I gave up and went on to something else. I'm not going to rate this because I don't think I can judge something I didn't read. I'm sure others that are interested in the Mob and the Calabrese family may find it much more interesting than I did.
Nicole Corning
Jan 11, 2013 Nicole Corning rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating story to read as a parent. Truly shows how our children both model our behavior but also are people in their own right with their own moral compass and set of ethics. Interesting look at nature versus nurture and the integral roles both play in our development - whether we like it or not. The author's voice is honest, unflinching, and very relatable. I highly recommend it!
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