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Mafia Son: The Scarpa Mob Family, the FBI, and a Story of Betrayal Hardcover – April 28, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition edition (April 28, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312370245
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312370244
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #761,076 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Stressing the elements of irony and malice, Harmon (coauthor, Elvis and Me) sidesteps the usual Mob yarn to tell the somber, dark story of a coldhearted Mafia chieftain and his obedient son, who takes the fall for his father out of familial love and respect. Wily mob head Gregory Scarpa Sr., with a 50-man crew in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, scammed, stole and killed under FBI protection starting in the 1960s, informing against hundreds of gangsters and crooked lawyers for decades. But when faced with arrest for his crimes, the elder Scarpa betrays his adoring son, Gregory Jr., whom he'd groomed to take his place. Convicted for racketeering, the young Scarpa does a long stretch in a federal maximum security prison, where in 1998 he overhears terrorist schemes to attack America from a prisoner named Ramzi Yousef. But his words are discounted until the September 11 attacks. Harmon, a very capable writer, gets inside the heads of the diabolical father and the submissive son (who is still in prison) in this sinister tale of bullets and betrayal. A disturbing, jagged true-crime thriller worthy of prime Hammett, Chandler or Puzo. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

As the son of a mobster, Scarpa was practically destined to go into the family business, although he never felt the thrill of murder and violence his father experienced. When federal investigators finally homed in on their corner of the Mafia world, 38-year-old Scarpa went to prison instead of his dying father. Just as Scarpa had inherited his Mafia position, he’d also inherited his father’s relationship with federal agents. In exchange for information about Mob activity, Scarpa Sr., known as the Grim Reaper, was given a virtual license to kill. But Scarpa Jr. was eventually betrayed by his father and federal agents who could have given him leniency. He had passed along information from terrorist Ramzi Yousef, Scarpa’s neighbor in prison, including early warning of al-Qaeda’s planning for the 9/11 attack. The information was ignored, and Scarpa Jr. was sentenced to 40 years to life in prison. Harmon draws on five years of research, including extensive interviews with Scarpa Jr. and family members, to offer an enthralling look at ties between the Mafia and the FBI. --Vanessa Bush

Customer Reviews

The story is centered around Greg Scarpa Sr. a lowly "soldier" in the Colombo family.
Rick Shaq Goldstein
I'm all for a good book on the mob, but my advise to the author would be the same she would get from Tony Soprono - "don't believe everything you hear on the streets."
M. Fencl
In the book's Postscript chapter, Harmon describes herself as "someone who has gotten almost too close to this story."
Thomas Hunt

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Jared Castle TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Call this book what you will but it is not a "epic story" about FBI informant Gregory Scarpa Sr. and his "Mafia Son", Gregory Scarpa Jr. Author Sandra Harmon performs a bait and switch, filling the pages with cloying details about Linda Schiro, whose claim to fame is serving as Scarpa Sr.'s gumare for more than 30 years.

Harmon is also the author of "Staying Married and Loving It" and "Getting to `I Do'". She served as a contributor for "Elvis and Me", authored by Priscilla Presley. I mention these other books not as an endorsement but rather to offer an explanation why "Mafia Son" reads more like a romance novel than a Mafia book.

With most of the central male characters either dead or unreachable behind bars, Harmon regurgitates Schiro's stories and glosses over the business details of the famed Scarpa mob family. Harmon attempts to humanize both father and son but the syrupy narrative fails to evoke sympathy. This excerpt from the chapter entitled "Dementia" illustrates the mind-numbing details and adverb abuse:

"They settled into a routine, with Linda dutifully and lovingly flying to Rochester each Friday morning and flying home on Monday. She and Greg St. sat in the visiting room together, with Linda fetching food and coffee from prison vending machines. If it was a nice day, they walked outside. On these occasions Linda made sure to hold his arm tightly, to keep him from slipping and falling.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By M. Fencl on January 4, 2010
Format: Hardcover
It was obvious to me that the author had a definite agenda when writing this book - selling fiction as fact. Most of what the author alleges in the book is double hearsay from a woman, Linda Schiro, who is a master manipulator, and who got much of her information from even a bigger manipulator, Greg Scarpa. The author tells the story from their perspective with little, or no, attempt of documenting many of her assertions, particularily those leveled against law enforcement and the FBI in particular. Its a fun read, full of all the juicy and tawdry details that are associated with life in the mob - much like the Soprono's. The author accuses the FBI Agent, Lin Devecchio, who handled Scarpa as getting "too close to him," resulting in Scarpa corrupting the agent. She, it seems, is a victim of what she alleges. She bought Schiro's story, hook line and sinker, the same story that was deemed inadmissable in a Federal Court of law. I'm all for a good book on the mob, but my advise to the author would be the same she would get from Tony Soprono - "don't believe everything you hear on the streets."
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Johanna Angelos on September 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I couldn't put it down. And reading previous reviews, I wonder if we read the same book. I was fascinated by the insights of how these people think and live and how they could justify what they did. I didn't feel that we had to have sympathy for the son, but instead gain an understanding as to why he became the way he was. The style in which this book is written makes for a thrilling ride and a great, informative read. I particularly liked to hear about Linda and how these woman could be so turned on to these men. And it gave a clear understanding of how conditioning shapes human beings. I recommend this book highly. It's a very entertaining way to become informed on how a Mafia son is shaped. Great read!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By The Historian on April 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Yea l tried hard to like this book but was unconvinced by the author about the accuracy and content of this book.
She obviously does not like the FBI and this distorts her sense of judgement and objectivity, she seems too willing to belive most things Scarpa Jnr told her and she comes across as a bit naive. I completely disagree with her opinion of FBI agent Lin D De Vecchio and think her comments here are way off beam. There are much better books around on this subject so try Unfinished Business by Joseph Pistone, that book is a pearler and well worth the read!
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Samantha L. Sayre VINE VOICE on June 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I found this easy to read book extremely boring even with the Mafia being the main subject. It's hard to believe, but true. I felt that Sandra Harmon was passionate about the subject, Gregory Scarpa but not really reliable about the facts and issues. This man was raised by his Mafia gangster father to be a killer and did kill about 25 men not to mention his drug dealing and racket schemes, however Ms. Harmon tries to portray that this man deserves to be out walking our streets because he didn't have a chance because of his father and because he was in prison with a mastermind of 9/11. The first part of the book is very quick and interesting. However it feels like she's writing more about the father than the son. Then she switches about middle of the book to the FBI agent that was supposedly dirty and back to the son. The book then becomes extremely boring and bogged down. Once the son goes to prison then there is almost no thought about what has happened and why. It's more about the oh poor me syndrome...I'm like this becauase of my dad. There is very little citations and documentation. I wonder if Ms. Harmon got most of her material from the son himself instead of other sources. I felt this book was poorly written about a fascinating family. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.
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Mafia Son: The Scarpa Mob Family, the FBI, and a Story of Betrayal
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