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The Mob and the City: The Hidden History of How the Mafia Captured New York

3.76  ·  Rating Details ·  145 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
"If there's a better book on the early history of Cosa Nostra in America, I haven't seen it." - Jerry Capeci, veteran mob reporter and author of Mob Boss.

Informative, authoritative, and eye-opening, this is the first full-length book devoted exclusively to uncovering the hidden history of how the Mafia came to dominate organized crime in New York City during the 1930s thro
Hardcover, 382 pages
Published May 6th 2014 by Prometheus Books (first published January 1st 2014)
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Carl Russo
Jun 09, 2014 Carl Russo rated it it was amazing
The Mob and The City is not so much a revisionist take on the New York mobs but a complete rediscovery of a dark chapter of American history. With a storyteller’s eye for the revealing detail, author Hortis transports us to the bustling streets and piers of 1930s New York to meet the real underworld hustlers—both the infamous and the unknown.

Surprises await even the most knowledgeable crime buff about the feuding gangsters in the Castellammarese War, the lead-up to the murder of cruel boss Alber
Mar 08, 2014 Richard rated it it was amazing
The Mob and the City gives an overview of the New York Mafia from the late 1920s to the late 1950s. What makes this book different and what makes it stand out is the amount of research that went into making this work and its accuracy. He goes into details of the Castellammarese War and the 1957 Apalachin meeting that no one else has even touched. He did this by digging into the archival records in New York, Maryland and Washington, DC, and analyzed them like only a lawyer can. Beyond that, ...more
Jun 24, 2014 Patrick rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
first rate history of the mafia in NYC ... a well-written myth-buster ... have not seen a clearer picture about how the five families came into existence, the roles they played and the business model that sustained them - and it could only have happened in NYC ... all the facts, complete with what's missing in similar books, namely, pictures, maps, tables, names
Day Rusk
Feb 01, 2015 Day Rusk rated it did not like it
I really hate to do this, but after reading more than two-thirds of author C. Alexander Hortis’s book on the rise of the New York Mafia, I just had to give it up; there really was no point in continuing on. If you’re new to the history of the Mafia during the 20th Century, you may enjoy it, but I’d still encourage you to seek out other books on the subject in order to wet your feet.

The promise of The Mob and The City was a new perspective or outlook on a history that is tired and well mined by o
Jun 07, 2014 Philip rated it really liked it
This well-researched book on the mafia's proliferation in NYC during the early to mid 1900's provides a great historical context that separates facts from myths. You will come away from this book gaining great insight into the brutal rise of Italian mobsters, and why they were able to flourish for decades. It does jump around a bit however, and left me wanting to read more. It's a very good read that won't disappoint.
Will Meyerhofer
Apr 21, 2014 Will Meyerhofer rated it it was amazing
This is the best all-around history of the mafia I've ever encountered - it's compulsively readable and seems to delight in overturning myth after myth, all the while answering those nagging questions that never seemed to receive meaningful answers before - like, how did the mafia actually work as a business, and how did the "made men" live on a day to day basis? How did it rise to power - and why was it composed primarily of Italians, and not some other ethnic group? How did the mafia work ...more
Lennert Van
Jul 20, 2014 Lennert Van rated it it was amazing
Having read hundreds of books relating to the Italian Mafia in the United States, The mob and the City by C. Alexander Hortis turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Not only gives the book a very accurate account of the rise of the New York Mafia from the 1920s up to the 1950s, the result of extensive research, Hortis actually managed to provide readers with plenty of information that can not be found in any of the already existing books dealing with the same subject. Always wondered about the ...more
Dec 01, 2014 Josh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The Mob and the City: The Hidden History of How the Mafia Captured New York" chronicles the New York Mafia from the 1920s, through the 1950s. Like others have mentioned. The research involved with writing this book was astounding. The last half of The Mob and The City" was literally taken over by the pages listing the extensive annotations and notes for those who wish to do further research. All in all this was a really good book. It starts out slow, but quickly gains steam and moves along ...more
Aug 08, 2015 Harold rated it really liked it
A somewhat different portrayal of the emergence of the Mafia as the dominant force in organized crime in the first half of the 20th century, Hortis views as a case of being in the right place at the right time. He realizes that as minorities of that era Italians and Jews had little opportunity open to them and those inclined to criminality whether by temperament or circumstance went that route. He eschews the usual portrayal of the mobsters of the 30's through the 50s as respecting the "code of ...more
Jun 09, 2014 Neil rated it really liked it
Take all of the romanticism and myth-making out of The Godfather, and you have this book. It's written very much like a history text, and shows obvious research and scholarship. Geography, economics, sociology, ethnic studies and business converge to tell the story. Surprisingly, this doesn't turn the history of the Mafia into a dry, bloodless study - it makes its trajectory a rich and integral part of the American story.
Howard Spinner
Nov 09, 2014 Howard Spinner rated it it was amazing
This is THE BOOK that you need to read about the Mafia! It debunks all of the glamours of the Mob, and rightly shows how through the natural and unique growth of NYC industries, organized crime gained a foothold, and then with Prohibition, became a powerful syndicate. Reads like a novel!
Aug 27, 2014 Dianne rated it it was ok
Informative but so poorly written with intros to multiple chapters stating "now let us look at...." I could not finish this book. Great topic that I hope another author tackles more successfully
Aug 31, 2014 Erichyde rated it liked it
One-note. I've read it all before.
This was a really hard book to give a rating to; from the content point of view this book would have been awarded a full 4 thumbs as it was obviously well researched, and very interesting reading. It takes everything the reader thinks they know about the Mafia and puts it into context. It dispels a lot of the myth and romanticism that surrounds this group of people and shows them for what they really were. The Book itself seemed to be aimed at those who already have knowledge of the Underworld ...more
Dec 16, 2015 Walt rated it it was amazing
Shelves: organized-crime
Hortis proposes to write a revisionist history of the New York Mafia. His book is based on a plethora of primary sources and contrasting existing popular sources. Hortis takes particular aim at Joe Bonanno's autobiography as causing many of the popular misconceptions about the Mafia. He relies a bit more on the memoirs of Joe Valachi and Nicola Gentile; but only as axillary support for arguments based on legal documents and government documents.

The writing style is more in line with graduate sc
Nov 27, 2014 Robert rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
After reading somewhere in the neighborhood of over 15 books about the mafia, one typically begins running into the same stories told the same exact ways. This is especially true for the events that took place in the New York mafia, due to the popularity of the events there and the information available. So when at the library, I saw there was yet another book about the mafia and New York, but I was intrigued enough by the book to give it a shot. Thankfully, Hortis and The Mob and the City doesn ...more
Apr 27, 2016 Dave rated it liked it
Review originally published at Book of Bogan

I have read quite a few books about La Cosa Nostra recently - in fact I am reading another one at the moment - and I was interested in learning more about how the Mafia manages to wangle its way into the levels of control that it has, or has had in the past. With a subtitle like "The Secret History of How the Mafia Captured New York" I was imagining that this book would cover some of that territory.

This book is not a bad book - for what it does, and wh
Erik Moloney
Mar 29, 2015 Erik Moloney rated it it was amazing
"If there's a better book on the early history of Cosa Nostra in America, I haven't seen it." - Jerry Capeci, veteran mob reporter and author of Mob Boss.

Informative, authoritative, and eye-opening, this is the first full-length book devoted exclusively to uncovering the hidden history of how the Mafia came to dominate organized crime in New York City during the 1930s through 1950s. Based on exhaustive research of archives and secret files obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, author
Jul 04, 2016 Matt rated it really liked it
Shelves: mafia-new-york
Overall this was a pretty solid read. A good level of detail and some interesting opinions on several of the previous stories spun in mafia lore. Author does not pull punches on a few of the stories which have been passed down through books and movies.

Specifically takes aim at some of the age old perceptions, codes, ethics, and practices by the old time "men of honor".

Overall I give this a strong 4 stars. If you are a deep mafia enthusiast(like me) there are enough interesting opinions and a fa
Oct 10, 2014 Wendy rated it liked it
4 stars for content - fascinating stuff, clearly well researched. This is the first Mafia history I've read, so I'm less attuned to what is "revisionist" about it - though it's clear the author is writing for an audience that is pretty well-versed (if not in the actual history, then at least in the pop culture of The Godfather, The Sopranos, etc.)

1.5 stars for the writing. I lost track of the number of times the author used "as we will see" or "as we have seen" to start paragraphs -- which just
This book outlines how the Italian Mafia took control of the rackets in the early 1900’s and managed to hold onto it for almost 100 years. This puts to bet many of the myths of the mafia, like the cleansing of the Mustache Pete’s after the assassination of Salvatore Maranzano. It does tend to read a little bland at parts with a lot of statistics and lists of names for instance a several page list of where outside NYC various mobsters lived. Good read
Chad Simons
Apr 23, 2015 Chad Simons rated it really liked it
I have always had a mild fascination with the world of the Mob. Its hard to know what is true and what is false anymore. This book does a great job of sorting some of that out and separating the Hollywood Mob from the actual mob. Not sure on the sources from this book, but at the same time I was not interested in complete verification of fact. This was an entertaining book that provided some additional insights to the stories that are plastered on the silver screen and many that are not.
Sandra Berryman
Sep 27, 2014 Sandra Berryman rated it really liked it
Normally I read science fiction, romantic suspense and urban fantasy but read reviews of this book and it really sounded interesting, plus I am part Sicilian and have always loved mafia-based movies. This book has some very interesting information about early mafia life in New York and some great myth-busting details. Overall a very informative read maybe just a little dry but I would still recommend this for anyone interested in the early days of the mafia in New York.
Diana Wille
Jan 31, 2015 Diana Wille rated it liked it
Everyone seems to love this book because it takes the romanticism, myths, and tradition out of the mafia. Ok, those are the best parts. So while the author completes his mission well, it removes most of my desire for reading it in the first place. Every time he mentioned with disdain the fanciful account Joe Bonnano gave in his memoirs, the more I wished I was reading that book, or a book that seemed to center in the characters themselves. This was a little dry for me.
May 19, 2016 Steven rated it it was ok
Shelves: history, 2016-read
The book was well researched, and the author debunks some myths. The account seemed more like a series of hypotheses and disjointed articles rather than a continuous narrative, and so the reading was less enjoyable. Also, 45% of the content was references, notes, and index so the length of reading is about half of what I expected.
Mar 13, 2014 Thomas rated it it was amazing
Shelves: true-crime
Hortis demolishes what we thought we knew about the Mob and builds a new history upon a solid foundation of exclusive documentary evidence and superb insight. The Mob and the City is essential reading for all who seek to truly understand the phenomenon of organized crime in America's most populous city.
Dave Hoff
May 08, 2015 Dave Hoff rated it it was ok
If one is into Mob history, book takes you thru the 1800 waterfront Jewish mobs, then Irish, and the worst,Sicilian Mafia. Best of the book is when all the mafia Bosses gathered at Apalachin and a New York State trooper,Sgt Croswell took them down. J Edgar Hoover jealous.
Mar 05, 2016 Terence rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-read
This would be most interesting to those they are very interested in the mob. It won't become interesting to you because of this book.

I think the book was okay and dispelled many myths about the mob.
Amy Pezent
Amy Pezent rated it it was ok
Oct 02, 2015
Juliette rated it liked it
Oct 14, 2015
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"If there's a better book on the early history of Cosa Nostra in America, I haven't seen it." -Jerry Capeci, veteran mob reporter and author of Mob Boss.

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“In July 1958, Cristoforo Rubino became another informer to fall before testifying against Mafia drug traffickers. A week before he was to testify before a grand jury investigating Vito Genovese and other traffickers, Rubino was shot dead on a Brooklyn sidewalk.98” 0 likes
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