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Mafia Son: The Scarpa Mob Family, the FBI, and a Story of Betrayal Paperback – Bargain Price, May 25, 2010

52 customer reviews

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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 1 Reprint edition (May 25, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312624174
  • ASIN: B005IV090W
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,518,925 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Jared Castle VINE 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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4 of 4 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By katherine tomlinson on November 26, 2013
Format: Hardcover
MAFIA SON is the true story of a mobster father who created a son in his own image, then abandoned him to a government who betrayed him a second (and third) time, even though he kept up his side of the bargain.

There’s potent stuff here—in the gradual manipulation of Greg, Jr.; in the story of how
Greg, Sr. was protected and allowed to kill with impunity; in the story of how junior
came to have prior knowledge of the 9/11 plot. The plot is all over the place and so is the
writer as she throws in everything but the kitchen sink.

The author first learned about GREG SCARPA, JR. while researching a book with this father’s mistress LINDA SCHIRO, who encouraged the writer to reach out to him in the supermax prison where he was incarcerated. Harmon had heard that Scarpa had uncovered information that could have led to stopping 9/11. She found it horrifying that he could have uncovered such info and then been “rewarded” with a transfer to the country’s most secure prison, ADMAX in Colorado.

She became Greg’s conduit to the outer world and in the process leaked a memo that involved a murder incriminating FBI agent LIN DEVECCHIO. When the Boston DA opened an investigation against DeVecchio on the strength of that memo, Harmon’s name was leaked and she came under intense pressure as people on both sides of the law threatened her. This only reinforced her decision to write a book about the Mafia, the FBI and the corruption. She tells the reader that she believes every word is true.

The story opens with Harmon visiting Scarpa at ADMAX, where the convicts are kept in near total isolation 23 out of 24 hours. It is the nation’s most secure penitentiary and the guards (known as “cowboys” to the inmates) often abuse their power. Gregory Scarpa, Jr.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Reed on October 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Like the other reviewers, I found that the first half of the book was an interesting read, but the interest quickly waned in the second half. While the book is titled to depict the story of Gregory Scarpa, Jr., in fact he is a bit character in most of the first part of the book, until he goes to prison. His father Gregory Scarpa, Sr., is what the book is really about.

While I have concerns about the story tailing off, of more concern is how much of this story is true. Organized crime members are, by nature, notorious liars. They lie to their wives about their girlfriends. They lie to their girlfriends about their other girlfriends. They lie to each other about how much money they are making. They lie to the cops, and they even lie to their lawyers. When you interview them, they are always the misunderstood character, forced by circumstances to try and help people, and their help is misunderstood. One (now deceased) "made guy" even tried to justify a "juice loan" as business counseling - the poor victim needed the juice loan because of the drug habits of his girlfriend. If the mark had just taken the friendly advice to dump the girlfriend, why, he never would have been in the position of having to get a juice loan in the first place.

That characteristic comes through very clearly in this book - self justification is the theme of the two main characters. I understand from background reading about the book that most of the material was provided by Gregory Scarpa, Jr. and his father's long-time girlfriend (and mother of two of the father's kids), Linda Schiro. Thus, I wonder how much the author really challenged the story from these two sources. Gregory Jr.
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