Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Takedown: The Fall of the Last Mafia Empire” as Want to Read:
Takedown: The Fall of the Last Mafia Empire
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Takedown: The Fall of the Last Mafia Empire

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  238 ratings  ·  19 reviews
The bestselling true story of a young NYPD detective's life-or-death undercover odyssey that led to the biggest mob takedown in New York City history. ...more
Audio CD
Published October 29th 2002 by Random House Audio (first published January 1st 2002)
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 Takedown, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Takedown

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  238 ratings  ·  19 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Takedown: The Fall of the Last Mafia Empire
I 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 ...more
Jul 20, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book started interestingly as it was a take on a different side of the mafia that you usually don't read about: the garbage cartel. Anyone that has been to New York has seen the mounds of trash out on the sidewalks each night from restaurants and other places that mysteriously disappear the next morning. It certainly make sense on how they could stop New York City in a couple of days by striking. With that said, I enjoyed these parts of the book but there were other parts that were more slug ...more
Nathan Schmidt
Jul 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a very gripping story to read, covering a real-life sting against some of the most influential mob families in New York City. The book mixes important information about the mob's historical rise with Rick Cowan's personal struggle to infiltrate the mafia without being caught by some of the gangs' most dangerous members. I liked how Cowan is pretty honest with the real-life and often unexpected challenges of his work (things are hardly ever as straightforward as in police dramas), even if ...more
Jul 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Crazy story of a NYC police detective who goes undercover to infiltrate the New York garbage mob.
Apparently up to the 90’s, the five crime families in New York owned all the trash pickup in the city and colluded to set prices anywhere from 20 to 2,000% above market rates.
Proof that in order to catch a crazy person that sometimes the cops have to be almost as crazy.
Bob Schmitz
Nov 15, 2012 rated it liked it
In May 1992 Rick Cowan, an NYPD undercover cop, is investigating the arson of a garbage truck at Chambers Paper and Fiber when 2 mobsters from a rival garbage company stop by. When they ask the owner Sal who Cowan is he responds "That's my cousin Danny." Seizing the moment Cowan for three years becomes Danny, works at Chambers and infiltrates to the top of the Mob controlled NYC garbage industry. He wears a wire to scores of Mob meetings collecting recordings that eventually put almost 200 mobst ...more
Jul 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one undercover cop's gripping tale of infiltrating the mob to uncover corruption in the waste management industry. Recalling it here in vivid, riveting detail, Rick Cowan (aided by journalist Century) reconstructs a time when he was deeper undercover in the garbage "cartel" than any city cop had ever been, with the close calls to prove it. Whether he's boosting a wiseguy's car to plant a bug, navigating confrontations with goons wielding two-by-fours and baseball bats or suffering throug ...more
Nov 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Very detailed portrait of the Mob run garbage cartel in the 1990s. The fact that a large percentages of the conversations were from wiretaps allowed the author (undercover NYPD officer) to get into a lot of the minutia of the day to day activities of the organized crime figures and the carters. It was a fascinating look into a corrupt industry and the gangsters that had been running it since the 1950s. I deducted one star because the basic racket was explained and laid out over and over.
Peter Shovlin
If you like the genre, I'd definitely recommend. What I liked most is, this is the real deal, the majority of encounters described were caught on tape so what you're reading is for the most part genuinely what went down. Alongside Brasco and Falcone, essential true crime Mafia entry ...more
This book tells the story of the NYPD’s investigation into the mob run garbage cartel which ran and controlled the industry in NY for over 50 years. Told by the cop who spent over 3 years undercover with the members of the mafia who ran these lucrative rackets. Good read.
Kim Gates
May 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is another good expose of the Mafia's inner workings. It's amazing to read about the 50-year stranglehold the Mob had on the collection of New York City's commercial garbage. If not for the infiltration by a courageous NYPD detective, NYC would still be in thrall to the Mob. Wow! ...more
Feb 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: organized-crime
This is a very well researched and written study of the mob in a particular industry. The authors do an excellent job describing the racket from its inception through the modern era and its dissolution. This is one of the best books on organized crime I have read.
Mar 25, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good account of a cop infiltrating the NYC mob.
Rob Younger
Aug 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a fantastic, true story about the man who took down the Mafia from the inside. Highly recommended for true crime or Mafia buffs.
Susan Schnell
Jul 12, 2012 rated it liked it
Fascinating story. I had a hard time getting past the obscene language even though I know that is realistic.
Vanessa Calabria
A NYPD detective infiltrates the commercial, mob-dominated, garbage collecting industry in New York City.
Jun 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
the book version, excellent!
Adam Swift
Jan 14, 2014 rated it liked it
Probably closer to 3.5 stars if I had the option, fast-paced undercover detective infiltrating the mafia sorta stuff, with more information about waste management than you probably want or need.
Jan 03, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Eh, this was okay. It does give the reader some perspective of how stressful it must be to be deep undercover.
rated it really liked it
Dec 30, 2010
rated it liked it
Jul 19, 2012
Todd Shaffer
rated it it was amazing
May 31, 2014
rated it really liked it
Oct 07, 2017
rated it really liked it
Jan 30, 2015
rated it it was amazing
Feb 04, 2008
rated it really liked it
Jun 27, 2014
rated it really liked it
Nov 22, 2015
Michael Blain
rated it liked it
Oct 30, 2012
rated it really liked it
Nov 09, 2013
Alexander Mackay
rated it really liked it
Mar 15, 2015
rated it liked it
Mar 27, 2009
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Underboss: Sammy the Bull Gravano's Story of Life in the Mafia
  • American Taboo: A Murder in the Peace Corps
  • The Sun Is a Compass: A 4,000-Mile Journey into the Alaskan Wilds
  • The Hardmen: Legends and Lessons from the Cycling Gods
  • Gravel: The Ultimate Guide to the Gear, Training, and Grit You Need to Crush It
  • I Heard You Paint Houses: Frank the Irishman Sheeran & Closing the Case on Jimmy Hoffa
  • Kook: What Surfing Taught Me About Love, Life, and Catching the Perfect Wave
  • Brainwashed: The Bad Science Behind CTE and the Plot to Destroy Football
  • Lukewarming: The New Climate Science that Changes Everything
  • Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance
  • Just Ride: Racing 2,725 Miles to Mexico
  • The Baby Boom: How It Got That Way (And It Wasn’t My Fault) (And I’ll Never Do It Again)
  • The Winter Army: The World War II Odyssey of the 10th Mountain Division, America's Elite Alpine Warriors
  • Classic Krakauer: After the Fall, Mark Foo's Last Ride and Other Essays from the Vault
  • Extreme: Why Some People Thrive at the Limits
  • Esther the Wonder Pig
  • After Obamacare: Making American Healthcare Better and Cheaper
  • Touching the Void: The True Story of One Man's Miraculous Survival
See similar books…

Related Articles

We asked Alice Bolin, author of Dead Girls: Essays on Surviving an American Obsession, and journalist-turned-crime novelist Laura...
98 likes · 48 comments