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Cigar City Mafia: A Complete History of the Tampa Underworld Paperback – May 31, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Barricade Books (May 31, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1569802874
  • ISBN-13: 978-1569802878
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #398,543 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Author

Quick comment on Steve's review. I'm not going to dispute opinions of writing style or grammatical errors. I want to clarify a factual error he mentioned. The City of Tampa was incorporated in 1855. However, the charter was suspended in 1862 (then reorganized, and resuspended). Modern Tampa was not incorporated in it's present form until August 11, 1873. Also Red Italiano retired to New Orleans before finishing his days in Mexico. I appreciate everyone taking the time to review my book. I have 2-3 more Tampa (and a few non-Tampa) OC-related books on the horizon, including one on Santo Trafficante Jr. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Scott M. Deitche was born and raised in central New Jersey. He has had a number of articles published on organized crime and its manifestations in Florida. His work and research on the topic has been featured on Fox-TV.He resides in St. Petersburg, Florida with his wife and daughter. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

The book is interesting and well written.
James B. Johnson
The book is full of spelling errors, run-on sentences, misplaced commas abound, and many factual errors.
Christina J. Murphy
For me a great report of the Tampa Mafia History, from the 20s till today.
I. Baier

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Steve on July 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I really looked forward to reading this book. My family was a part of Ybor City for 3+ generations and my grandparents never tired of telling tales of Tampa's lawless past. Although they were not participants, it was impossible to live in that time and place and not be aware of the open corruption all around.

I should have just listened to my abuelos. As an aspiring author myself, it pains me to see prose tortured like a ratted-out FBI informant. Unfortunately, that's what happens on pretty much every page of Cigar City Mafia, with amateurish writing and poor organization ruining a fascinating topic. The text regularly devolves into a mind-numbingly dull list of names and murders, often reading like a police report with little color or context. And when the author tries to be more descriptive, he often tangles sentences like linguini in a bowl, forcing the reader to tease them apart to figure out what he was attempting to say. Stock phrases are recycled over and over again ad nauseum - if I read "part of his face was blown off" one more time in a description of a mafia hit, my own face may have blown off. And the chronology is needlessly muddled, jumping randomly back and forth between different mobsters in different decades for no apparent reason.

I could probably overlook the poor writing if the info was good. Sadly, that's debatable here. Extensive research and careful fact-checking are absolutely essential in a non-fiction work, but Cigar City Mafia contains multiple factual errors. I found one pretty quickly: on the first page of the first chapter, the author states that Tampa became a city in 1873. Actually, it was initially incorporated in 1855. That's a pretty basic fact that may have flown right by the casual reader.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 1, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I'll break this down quickly:
In general, this book is poorly written and poorly edited with lots of typos and poorly constructed sentences and paragraphs.
However, Tampa natives like myself will enjoy the content due to the familiarity of the names and places involved.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By andrew huse on July 14, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I tried in vain to read this book, as I am very interested in Tampa's rich history. I didn't see the first citation until several chapters in, and the research in general is extremely weak. The author simply repeats newspaper accounts without adding anything else, so he perpetuates flawed or false accounts without questioning them.

The terrible methodology would be partly forgivable if the author supplied a compelling text that was fun to read. Instead, the writing itself is laughable, with no real attempt to edit for style or content. There is certainly no artistry in the writing--- it is bone dry.

As an aspiring historian with a deep interest in Florida history, this book was too bad to finish. I'm happy that I borrowed it from a friend rather than buy a copy. If I had bought a copy, I think i would have sent the book to the author, only beside a fish wrapped in newspaper. "Cigar City Mafia sleeps with the fishes."
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Lawrence R. Schuler on March 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover
From the blood-stained Mercury on the cover, to the police-blotter's list of the `usual suspects' at the end, you know immediately that THIS IS NOT A NOVEL. With all the detail and staccato of Walter Winchell reading you the Police Gazette comes a tour of Tampa's millennium of mobsters - this powerful first effort to profile all the players, all the made-guys, and even a few innocent bystanders of "Tampa's underworld" heretofore swept under the carpet. A piercing review of a parade of characters and their sometimes anecdotal anarchy, set in timelessness and the tiny town of Tampa. A microcosm of Mafia schemers and their plots, ploys and payoffs; prosecutorial passes, and presidential "whackings." From turn-of-the-century "Little Havana" gambling halls and a numbers racket called "bolita" ran crooked games to fund favored politico and policemen. To the smugglers, bootleggers, loan-sharks and their hitmen of Tampa's "Era of Blood" - daylight point-blank shotgun "hits" of rivals fighting for control of bolita bars throughout the barrio. There's the "bodyguard" nick-named "Scarface" who owned the "Boston Bar" where "Omerta" ruled the road, and those who were even thought to be a rat were found in the river or the bay, in an oil drum, or never found at all. And the eventual and inevitable rise of Santo Trafficante Jr. as one of the world's most powerful international gambling-smuggling mobsters in history. The true "Teflon Don" who never went "up the river" but did end up residing in a mausoleum in the L'Unione Italiana cemetery just blocks from the little Latin Quarter.Read more ›
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Carl in Tampa on December 26, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book gives the reader a flavor of the criminal element of Tampa society that was active in a period that extended from the early 1900's to the mid-1960's, with connections that continue into the present day. It is an interesting read, but much of its contents must be taken with a large dose of skepticism. The information regarding gangland murders and gang family connections are generally well known, but much of the information about "police corruption" is undocumented and based upon speculation. In particular, the naming of a Tampa Police Department supervisor who went on to be elected Sheriff as having been in a position to be suspected of corruption is tainted by innuendo that falls short of accusation, and is unwarranted.

It appears the author relied heavily upon an unidentified source who provided an oral history of the era based upon what he believed to have been the actions and motives of the major players. That source is likely to have come from the criminal element, not the law enforcement side.

There are some gaps in the chronology and it is sometimes necessary to backtrack and re-read some accounts in order to ascertain how the different stories fit together. There is an uneveness to the writing which suggests either the absence of a good editor or a rush to get the book into print.

Despite these defects, the book does give an interesting overview of the violent era of Tampa's gang-dominated past.
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