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Most groundbreaking Mafia book?

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message 1: by Thomas (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:29PM) (new)

Thomas (tphunt) | 38 comments What do you feel was the most groundbreaking book ever written about the Mafia?

This doesn't involve popularity. I don't care how many copies were sold or whether the book became a movie.

I'm interested in which book contained the greatest quantity of new Mafia revelations (providing they turned out to be generally true) for its time.

- Tom


message 2: by Thomas (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:30PM) (new)

Thomas (tphunt) | 38 comments Years ago, I might have answered this question with "The Valachi Papers." It provided a knowledgeable view of the underworld that was generally unavailable to readers of the time.

However, after we have had time to digest the revelations of the book, it now seems that the book was less important than Valachi's Senate testimony, and that testimony was less about Valachi's actual memories than it was about the FBI playing catch-up with other law enforcement agencies around the country.

The autobiographical Vita di Capomafia by Nick Gentile revealed much about the history and the methods of the Mafia, but frustratingly only revealed those things to those who could read Italian or had the patience to work through the job of a literal translation. Even today, some of Gentile's revelations - such as the cooperative nature of Mafia organizations around the globe and the high moral ideals of many brutal mafiosi - come across as shocking.

But I suppose my vote would be for A Man of Honor by Joseph Bonanno. In additional to providing a detailed Mafia history based upon personal knowledge and to explaining the factional struggles within Sicilian-Italian organized crime, that book showed that the post-1931 Syndicate had become a bureaucracy, with petty bickering, jealousies and personality conflicts playing significant roles in underworld affairs (much as they seem to in government affairs).

I believe A Man of Honor caused many of us to look at the Mafia in a very different way.

- Tom


message 3: by Lanie (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:30PM) (new)

Lanie | 1 comments Over the past 10-15 years I would say the most groundbreaking books for me were books by bystanders, (notice I didn't say innocent). As much as I love books on the inner workings of organized crime books like "On the Run", "Double Cross", "No Questions Asked" give a much more different account of the mob more importantly the indiviual invovled with them. Alot of times books or even more so TV and movies tend to make mobsters seem abit heroic and honorable in their efforts to make a better life for there family.

When in reality they are using it as an excuse for commiting horrible crimes against the ignorant and the innocent. A lot of times they decide to have a family and in reality they have no real genuine love for there wives or their children.

However, I can't really narrow down one book that I would consider groundbreaking, I think most of these organized crime books are groundbreaking. Put it this way I haven't come across a mafia book I didn't like.


message 4: by Rick (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:30PM) (new)

Rick (RickMattix) | 28 comments I'll second Tom on A Man of Honor. In one way it's a typical self-serving mobster's memoir but it's also a unique firsthand view of life within the Mafia looking from the top down in the New York that Bonanno called the Volcano. It gave me some real insight into a Mafioso's view of his own world that's often strikingly different from the standard studies based on the investigations of law enforcement agencies and the testimony of informers.


message 5: by Craig (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:31PM) (new)

Craig (phillipwardlaw) | 3 comments Mod
I have to agree Man of Honor is the best.


message 6: by Thomas (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:41PM) (new)

Thomas (tphunt) | 38 comments Lanie,

Your post draws attention to the fact that there are not-so-obvious victims of these gangsters. I am generally more interested in those who lost their money, lost their businesses, lost their lives..., as a result of an underworld racket. But the people who - by choice or not - find themselves in relationships with these criminals also suffer greatly as a result.

I recall recently reading an article about the next generation of Bonannos and how they have dealt with their family's past. (See: http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/sto... ) We might even argue that Bonannos got off better than most, since Joe Bonanno was able to write his own life story (cleaning it up considerably in the process) and he was able to pass considerable wealth onto his offspring.

- Tom


message 7: by Three (new)

Three (three_monkeys_online) | 1 comments I'd be interested to know what members of the group think about John Dickie's Cosa Nostra.

It seems to me to be one of the best overall examinations of the Italian based mafia, delving back into the origins of the organisation where many commentators, in English at least, have tended to start with Falcone's revelations from his interviews that formed the basis for the maxi-trials.

We did an interview here with Dickie to discuss the book


message 8: by Thomas (new)

Thomas (tphunt) | 38 comments I thought Dickie did a good job. I'm not sure though why his book seems to have received more attention than Rebels and Mafiosi by Fentress. That book was an eye-opener for me.


message 9: by Vishal (new)

Vishal Singh (LShiva) | 1 comments I would love to draw your attention to this brilliant masterpiece i came across a a year back...-Gangster by Lorenzo Carcaterra

As i haven't read A Man of Honor: The Autobiography of Joseph Bonanno by Joseph Bonanno which as i can clearly see is much praised among the MAFIA here,,i feel not at ease to declare my nominee as the best mafia book ever written..

but whatever it is..i wish people get to read it..its such a fine work of brilliance,,i feel pity for people ignorant of this mystical n blood spitting saga which,as in the words of Robert Crais,"BREATHES AND BLEEDS ON EVERY PAGE".

:)


message 10: by Sylvanus (new)

Sylvanus Okwunodulu | 1 comments Thomas wrote: "Years ago, I might have answered this question with "The Valachi Papers." It provided a knowledgeable view of the underworld that was generally unavailable to readers of the time.

However, after w..."


I agree with you. Funny when he stated that it was a tradition handed over to them by their forefathers to eke out a living


message 11: by Miranda (new)

Miranda | 4 comments For me although it's a novel based of mafia facts, Gangster by Lorenzo Caracaterra was the book that started my addiction to learning about the mob. I learned the hard truth that u give your life to the family and that a lot of Italians fled Italy to get away from that life, but ironically were forced into that life here


message 12: by Miranda (new)

Miranda | 4 comments For me although it's a novel based of mafia facts, Gangster by Lorenzo Caracaterra was the book that started my addiction to learning about the mob. I learned the hard truth that u give your life to the family and that a lot of Italians fled Italy to get away from that life, but ironically were forced into that life here


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