Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
by Shelby Foote
Considered one of the definitive Civil War narratives as well as one of the 20th-century's greatest works of nonfiction, this third volume of a three-volume history presents the true events, the battles, and biographies of significant figures on both sides of the conflict.
Sunday, April 4, 2010
Here are the chilling details and deceptions that created a vast criminal empire. Here are six decades of the uncontrolled greed and lust for power of such men as Lucky Luciano, Frank Costello, Meyer Lansky, Vito Genovese, Albert Anastasia, Carlo Gambino, Paul Castellano, and John Gotti—men for whom murder and betrayal were business as usual. From the Gambinos' powerful stranglehold on New York's construction, garment, and waterfront industries to the government's onslaught against them in the '80s and '90s, Mafia Dynasty takes you into the mysterious world of blood oaths, shifting alliances, and deadly feuds that will hold you riveted from the first page to the last.
For a secret society, there sure are lots of inside stories of La Cosa Nostra. This one, among the best in recent years, is a sweeping account of the growth of the five New York crime families, with a focus on the sprawling empire of Carlo Gambino. Save Al Capone, all the best-known leaders of organized crime--Lucky Luciano, Meyer Lansky, Albert Anastasia, Vito Genovese, Frank Costello, and John Gotti--are featured players here. The first half of the book is a lucid, well-crafted account of the evolution of the five families during roughly 50 years, beginning in the 1920s. But Davis bogs down badly with the 1980s, relying on transcriptions of remarkably stupid conversations bugged by the FBI and seemingly interminable accounts of Gotti's courtroom theatrics. It's hard to escape the conclusion that the author's attempt to include Gotti's 1992 conviction robbed him and his editor of the opportunity to polish the text. Still, lots of readers will want to read this one.
Author Pistone narrates this thrilling account of his own experiences as an undercover FBI agent who successfully infiltrated the dangerous world of the Mafia. During a six-year period in the 1970s, Pistone adopted the persona of Donnie Brasco, a successful jewel thief who was looking to "get connected." He slowly and carefully ingratiated himself with the Mafiosi and was about to be initiated as a member when his assignment ended. Successfully earning the trust of many high-ranking "wise guys," he was able to expose the activities of several important families, including the Bonannos and the Colombos. Though it reads like a thriller, this work also provides listeners with much concrete information about Mafia financial and familial operations. Pistone's narration and the inclusion of excerpts from actual FBI surveillance tapes bring the events of this tale chillingly to life.