I'm sorry to have to give this one star, but it just doesn't deserve any more. Like Gaspipe: Confessions of a Mafia Boss, it is not really a book. The...moreI'm sorry to have to give this one star, but it just doesn't deserve any more. Like Gaspipe: Confessions of a Mafia Boss, it is not really a book. There's nothing new but some warmed-over sentimental childhood memories from someone whose half-assed reflections are presented as fact that I as a reader am supposed to care about, without either the insight or detail that should be brought to all memoirs or the investigatory qualities that belong in anything third-person about organized crime. Garden-variety historical realities are presented out of context and in rapturous tones as "revelations." It's obvious throughout that the author has brought very little of her own to the table in terms of knowledge of organized crime, and yet has presented Scarpa Jr's recollections as factual, sometimes uncorroborated and far too often unquestioned third-person accounts, which is a huge mistake when dealing with an obviously unreliable confessor. The moment the intro asserted that Harmon's principal interviewee had tipped the authorities off to 9/11 before it happened, and the FBI ignored him, I should have known I was in for a rocky road. It only got rockier.
In my opinion, this adds nothing new to the literature on organized crime. Sorry.(less)
I really liked this book by NYPD detective Rick Cowan, about Operation Wasteland, the undercover investigation that crippled the garbage hauling racke...moreI really liked this book by NYPD detective Rick Cowan, about Operation Wasteland, the undercover investigation that crippled the garbage hauling rackets in NYC. I don't tend to be partial to books by police officers, maybe having been burned by the stunning dullness of Donnie Brasco early on in my true-crime-reading career. But I found this much more interesting, maybe because Cowan was younger and greener and, at least as he portrays it, had to do more improvising due to the lesser resources of the NYPD vs. the FBI. There's also some great stuff about inter-departmental politics and lower-grade corruption in NYC; for instance, a leak about Operation Wasteland led to the city government opening up the hauling contracts for the NYC Marathon to an out-of-state company for the first time. Lots of great political gems like that, viewed from street level. I enjoyed this more than I expected to.(less)
Hell's bells, how I love me some books about cops going undercover as bikers. Having just finished No Angel by Jay Dobyns I checked out this one, also...moreHell's bells, how I love me some books about cops going undercover as bikers. Having just finished No Angel by Jay Dobyns I checked out this one, also about an ATF agent, this one infiltrating the Mongols, the Hells Angels' chief rivals in southern California. I dug the book big-time. I think I liked it better than the Dobyns book, but they're both great for what they are.(less)
I know this book is a watershed in the history of Mob literature, and that Pistone's investigatory efforts were a breaking point for the Mob. But this...moreI know this book is a watershed in the history of Mob literature, and that Pistone's investigatory efforts were a breaking point for the Mob. But this book of his just leaves me dozing. I don't know what it is; maybe he's just a boring guy. Everyone blathers on about how great this book is, but I don't get it. It was made into a far worse movie, incidentally. One of the things the book does have going for it is that Pistone explains at great length what undercover agents can and can't do. Sawing up bodies? Pretty firmly on the "can't do" list. The movie completely ignores that, but then...hey, who cares, right? It's not like it REALLY HAPPENED or anything.
Anyway -- if you are a Mob buff or researcher you HAVE to read this book, because the case is so critically important in history. Drink lots of coffee while you do it.
Incidentally -- it doesn't make any difference to me what a man does for a living, understand -- but his ghostwriter on this also wrote The Bad News Bears Go to Japan. I'm just saying.(less)