Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Operation Family Secrets: How a Mobster's Son and the FBI Brought Down Chicago's Murderous Crime Family” as Want to Read:
Operation Family Secrets: How a Mobster's Son and the FBI Brought Down Chicago's Murderous Crime Family
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Operation Family Secrets: How a Mobster's Son and the FBI Brought Down Chicago's Murderous Crime Family

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  748 Ratings  ·  85 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
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published March 8th 2011 by Broadway Books (first published January 1st 2011)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Operation Family Secrets, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Operation Family Secrets

Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared DiamondThe Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca SklootMe Talk Pretty One Day by David SedarisOne Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García MárquezCollapse by Jared Diamond
150 books — 136 voters
Bossypants by Tina FeyThe Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David MitchellOpen by Andre AgassiThe Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha MukherjeeLast Call by Daniel Okrent
From Fresh Air
103 books — 73 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jon-david Mafia Hairdresser
Jul 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it really liked it
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 26, 2012 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
Aug 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Once again I have to beg forgiveness from my followers. Of books, I have read many, of writing, I have done little. I hate myself when I let these reviews back up like this but as all readers and writers are aware….so many books, so little time!

Operation Family Secrets itself is a codename for an FBI operation into the world of La Cosa Nostra in Chicago. Where the New York mob is comprised largely of Italian made men, the Chicago mob is a melting pot of made men. Chicago is well known for its It
RoxAnne Trushenski
Good read

Good read many characters to follow but does give good look into how things are done within the mob ranks.
Perian Hanlon
Aug 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Fascinating family tale. Best listened to for there are so many characters to keep track of.
Sep 08, 2017 rated it liked it
A very interesting look at the mob through the eyes of a mrmber
Hot Cup O'Monkey
Feb 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 11, 2012 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
R. Michael
Feb 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating story one the influence and power that the Chicago mob had and used. Known as the Outfit, the Calabrese had it all.
Joseph Ribera
Mar 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Drew Zagorski
Mar 23, 2012 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
Oct 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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
Jun 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 28, 2013 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
Jul 23, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Jan 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 17, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
J.m. Darhower
Mar 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 21, 2011 rated it liked it
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.
Apr 01, 2012 rated it liked it
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.
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.
Jan 06, 2013 rated it liked it
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.
Mar 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 rated it liked it
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.
Jan 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.

Aug 17, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I really enjoyed this book. It was very informative about the Chicago Mob Outfit and the life of the Calabrese family. A quick and enjoyable read, but maybe not the best for right before bed (which I did anyway because I couldn't put it down) because some of the things that happened are fairly upsetting. A unique look into the mob, FBI, family dynamics and organized crime prosecution.
Feb 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Unlike the book about James Bulgur that I had to basically skim to get through, this book had me hooked from beginning to end. Frank Calabrese's in depth look at the Chicago Outfit and his ultimately doomed relationship with his father was fascinating. The writing isn't perfect, but I enjoyed the feeling of just sitting down and listening to someone tell stories about his life.
I heard an interview while driving down to Louisiana from Frank Calabrese, Jr. on a public radio station. It sounded interesting so I thought I'd buy the book. While the story was interesting the writing was not so good, which took a bit away from the story. But then again, this guy was groomed to be a mobster not a writer. I'm glad that his father got what he deserved.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Rothstein: The Life, Times, and Murder of the Criminal Genius Who Fixed the 1919 World Series
  • Family Secrets: The Case That Crippled the Chicago Mob
  • The Outfit: The Role of Chicago's Underworld in the Shaping of Modern America
  • The St. Valentine's Day Massacre: The Untold Story of the Gangland Bloodbath That Brought Down Al Capone
  • Made Men: The True Rise-and-Fall Story of a New Jersey Mob Family
  • The Gangs of Chicago: An Informal History of the Chicago Underworld
  • King of the Godfathers
  • Mob Star: The Story of John Gotti
  • The First Family: Terror, Extortion, Revenge, Murder, and the Birth of the American Mafia
  • Mr. Capone
  • Blonde Ambition: The Untold Story Behind Anna Nicole Smith's Death
  • Capone: The Man and the Era
  • Skyjack: The Hunt for D.B. Cooper
  • For the Sins of My Father: A Mafia Killer, His Son, and the Legacy of a Mob Life
  • When Corruption Was King: How I Helped the Mob Rule Chicago, Then Brought the Outfit Down
  • Killers: the Most Barbaric Murderers of Our Times
  • Stalling for Time: My Life as an FBI Hostage Negotiator
  • Paddy Whacked: The Untold Story of the Irish American Gangster

Share This Book