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Most overlooked Mafia books

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message 1: by Thomas (new)

Thomas (tphunt) | 38 comments OK. How about the books that did a great job exposing the underworld but never managed to get the notice they deserved? (Let's not include any recent releases, since we have no idea yet what sort of notice they will eventually receive.)

It seems we must include Gentile's "Vita di Capomafia," which really should have been released in English translation long before now.

I'll also throw in Celeste Morello's "Before Bruno" series. Though casual readers might have problems with the storytelling, it seems to me that, through the use of some previously untapped sources and with an understanding of underworld relationships that few others have, Morello provided excellent detail on the history of the Philly Mob.

- Tom



message 2: by Rick (new)

Rick (RickMattix) | 28 comments I haven't gotten Morello's books yet but they sound fascinating. Philly certainly deserves some in-depth study of the pre-Bruno or even pre-Scarfo, years.

Would love to see an English translation of Gentile.

One very underrated book I think, though it's vague on names and dates and such and also very ponderously translated into English, is Giuseppe Selvaggio's The Rise of the Mafia in New York. It's undocumented and the author has understandable misconceptions about U.S. history -- underworld and otherwise -- but it does provide some interesting leads and speculations and is not the work of fiction I imagined it at one time.

Another underrated book in my view is Don MacLean's Pictorial History of the Mafia. While amateurishly written, error-strewn, and showing no original research, this massaive almanac has a tremendous number of events crammed into it's massive chronological sections and one of the most fantastic photo collections I've seen in any book. It's more scope than depth and I wouldn't trust it too far but it can be handy for looking up dates and the pictures alone are very worthwhile.


message 3: by Thomas (new)

Thomas (tphunt) | 38 comments I do cherish my copy of Selvaggi's book, but it is a difficult work to use as a resource. I was surprised to find that Selvaggi got many principles in underworld history correct, though often his details were off. You're right about "leads," but one needs to really dig to track down the full stories.

Any ideas who his source, Zio Trestelle, might have been? I can't see how the "three stars" is a hint to the person's identity.

- Tom



message 4: by Rick (last edited Dec 23, 2007 05:46AM) (new)

Rick (RickMattix) | 28 comments That has always beat me and I still don't have a clue. I'm guessing "Three-Stars" was a very personal reference that only a few would know about or understand. Or could it be mistranslation? Or even a deliberate attempt to hide his identity rather than hint at it? Wonder if "Three Stars" could be "Three Fingers" or something else? I suspect if more detail was provided Zio Trestelle's identity could be ascertained and it would surely amaze us. He must have been a guy of some prominence but I can't connect it with anyone.

For sure the book is very vague.


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