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Five families : the rise, decline, and resurgence of America's most powerful Maf
Selwyn Raab
Adult Nonfiction HV6452.N7 R33 2005

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Former New York Times crime reporter Raab sets a new gold standard for organized crime nonfiction with his outstanding history of the Mafia in New York City. Combining the diligent research and analysis of a historian with the savvy of a beat journalist who has extensive inside sources, the author succeeds at an ambitious task by rendering the byzantine history of New York's five families-Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese and Lucchese-easily comprehensible to any lay reader. Of necessity, Raab also illuminates the Mafia's origin in 19th-century Sicily and its transition to this country. Throughout his survey of the mob's evolution-from simple protection rackets to pump-and-dump stock schemes-Raab renders the mobsters (including men less well known than John Gotti, but no less significant) as three-dimensional figures, without glossing over their vicious crimes and their impact on honest citizens. Law enforcement's varying responses as well as society's view of gangsters enrich the narrative, which merits comparison with the classic true-crime writing of Kurt Eichenwald. While Raab surprisingly gives short shrift to the 1980s pizza connection case, which revealed the growing influence of the Sicilian Mafia on America's heroin trade, he otherwise demonstrates mastery of his subject. This masterpiece stands an excellent chance of becoming a bestseller with crossover appeal beyond devoted watchers of The Sopranos. 24 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

One couldn't hope for a more exhaustive chronicle of the Cosa Nostra in America over the last 85 years. Investigative reporter Raab (the New York Times) had discovered a Mob presence in a surprising number of places while researching various articles over the years. He shows how completely the Mafia has wrapped its tentacles around the structure of this country, from Prohibition, which was instrumental in coalescing the random street gangs into disciplined families (the five in the title are the Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese, and Lucchese families) to recent scams involving cleanup of the World Trade Center site. Romanticized by the press, protected by the code of silence (omerta), and almost impossible to pin down, the families were finally taken down when the FBI took advantage of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) statute, ten years on the books before it was used. Faced with long jail sentences, many top brass in Cosa Nostra finally broke silence to save their own skins. Raab reports with disciplined outrage, painting his subjects as the dangerous thugs they are. His repetitions, sometimes verbatim, of information and anecdotes, can be distracting, but this is a quibble. An informative and frightening account that belongs in all libraries.-Deirdre Bray Root, Middletown P.L., OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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