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Operation Family Secrets: How a Mobster's Son and the FBI Brought Down Chicago's Murderous Crime Family [Kindle Edition]

Frank Calabrese Jr. , Kent Zimmerman , Paul Pompian
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $9.76
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

Operation Family Secrets is the chilling true story of how the son of the most violent mobster in Chicago made the unprecedented decision to work with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to incriminate his own father and to help bring down the last great American crime syndicate—the one-hundred-year-old Chicago Outfit.

The Calabrese family of Chicago is a close-knit, middle-class, multi-generational Italian-Irish-American clan. They operate family businesses. They work day and night striving for the American Dream. All three sons forge a bond with their controlling father, Frank Sr., and their soft-spoken favorite uncle, Nick. As a boy, the oldest son, Frank Jr., realizes that his father and uncle are also “made” members of another close-knit family: the outfit.
     In Operation Family Secrets Frank Calabrese, Jr., tells the turbulent tale of a family dominated by a violent patriarch who breaks a longstanding unwritten outfit code and “brings the street into his home” by enlisting two of his sons into the outfit’s 26th Street/Chinatown crew. Frank Jr. reveals for the first time the outfit’s “made” ceremony and describes being put to work alongside his father and uncle in loan sharking, gambling, labor racketeering, and extortion, and plotting the slaying of a fellow gangster, while they commit the bombing murder of a trucking executive, the gangland execution of two mobsters whose burial in an Indiana cornfield was reenacted in Martin Scorsese’s blockbuster film Casino, and numerous other hits.
     The Calabrese Crew’s colossal earnings and extreme ruthlessness make them both a dreaded criminal gang and the object of an intense FBi inquiry. Eventually Frank Jr., his father, and Uncle Nick are convicted on racketeering violations, and “Junior” and “Senior” are sent to the same federal penitentiary in Michigan. Upon arrival, Frank Jr. makes a life-changing decision: to go straight rather than agree to his father’s plans to resume crew activities after serving his sentence. But he needs to keep his father behind bars in order to regain control of his life and save his family. Frank Jr. makes a secret deal with prosecutors, and for six months—unmonitored and unprotected—he wears a wire as his father recounts decades of hideous crimes. Frank Jr.’s cooperation with the FBi for virtually no monetary gain or special privileges helps create the government’s “operation Family Secrets” campaign against the Chicago outfit. The case reopens eighteen unsolved murders and also implicates twelve La Cosa Nostra soldiers and two outfit bosses. it becomes one of the largest organized crime cases in U.S. history.
     Operation Family Secrets intimately portrays how organized crime rots a family from the inside out while detailing Frank Jr.’s deadly prison-yard mission, the FBi’s landmark investigation, and the U.S. attorney’s office’s daring prosecution of america’s most dangerous criminal organization.

Editorial Reviews


"I couldn’t stop reading this gripping account of Frank Calabrese Jr.’s decision to cooperate with the FBI that took down his father, uncle and the last American crime syndicate."-- Nick Pileggi, author and screenwriter of Wiseguys, Goodfellas and Casino

"An undeniably engaging tale, capturing the nitty-gritty of daily life in the "crews" of the Outfit. A useful and readable addition to Mob Lit." Kirkus reviews

From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Frank Calabrese, Jr., lived in his native Chicago for thirty-nine years. Mentored by his father and brought into the Chicago outfit at age eighteen, he coauthored Operation Family Secrets.

Paul Pompian, a coauthor of Operation Family Secrets, has produced more than fifty motion pictures and television productions.

Keith Zimmerman is one half of a twin-brother writing team. He and his brother, Kent Zimmerman, have coauthored or contributed to over sixteen books, including Hell's Angel with Ralph "Sonny" Barger and Rotten with John Lydon.

Kent Zimmerman is one half of a twin-brother writing team. He and his brother, Keith Zimmerman, have coauthored or contributed to over sixteen books, including Hell's Angel with Ralph "Sonny" Barger and Rotten with John Lydon.

Former radio broadcaster Todd McLaren has been heard on more than 5,000 TV and radio commercials; narrations for documentaries on such networks as A&E and the History Channel; and films. His book narrations have earned him a prestigious Audie Award as well as a Publishers Weekly Listen-Up Award.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2938 KB
  • Print Length: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books (March 8, 2011)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004J4WM8G
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #190,387 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
67 of 69 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a brutal story that chronicles a murderous "outfit" in the Chicago mob that is built around a psychopathic Father, Frank Calabrese Sr. and his son Frank Calabrese, Jr., who tells the story of a domineering abusive Father that forces him into the same way of life. The cold blooded descriptions of one murder after another are not for the squeamish. Frank Jr. who kept trying unsuccessfully to get out from under his multi-personality cold-blooded killing Father to try to lead a "straight" life... eventually winds up in a federal prison with his Father. Then he does the most unthinkable of the unthinkable. He puts his life on the line by contacting the FBI to rat on his Father... and agrees to wear a wire *IN THE PRISON YARD* to get taped confessions of his Father's almost uncountable amount of murders. The reader can feel the spine tingling tension and fear when the son takes a walk with his Father in the "yard" fully "wired-up". Jr. feels his Father is such a menace to society as well as already reneging on his pledge to get out of the "business" after prison, it's the only chance he himself has for a real life after prison. As if the emotional toll isn't high enough... simply ratting out his Father... but for Jr. to tell the whole story to the FBI he will have to include putting a noose around his Uncle Nick's neck, who Jr. has real affection for. Nick was involved in double digit murders either with... or at the bequest of Frank Sr. Though Nick was a cold-blooded killer himself... even he buckled under and cowered in the presence of Frank Sr. the few times he tried to stand up to Sr. regarding not forcing Jr. into "the-life"... he was physically and emotionally pummeled. Read more ›
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Operations Family Secrets March 21, 2011
By Mary
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A facinating book. The story of the Chicago 'Mob', told from the inside out. The names of the characters are listed on the first few pages, I found this to be extremly helpful in keeping track of the people in the book. I have read other books on the same subject, but none as well written or heartfelt. What a story, what a life Frank Calabrese Jr. has lived, and now is free to truly live his life to the fullest. I can't help but wish there is a volume TWO, a sequal or at least another chapter or two, coming soon! I have the feeling there is more to tell, more than we will ever know. Great book, you wont be able to put it down!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Current Secrets June 2, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Operation Family Secret tells the story of one man and his life with a father that is a member of the Outfit, more commonly known as the mob. Now you would think this was based in a different era, but some of the stories and certainly the punishments handed out is as current as 2010. The first part tells the story from the oldest son of Frank Calabrese, Known as Frank Jr., who was forced to be a member of his fathers' crew. The names of numerous members of the Outfit are named with various crimes committed from loan sharking, bribes, including to murder. Frank Jr. Tried on numerous occasions to go legit, but was always reeled in by his father, who was a control freak. Once the Calabrese family had gotten caught, Frank Sr covered his himself, but left his brother and two sons to their own course through the legal system. Upon serving time in the same Federal prison as his father, Frank Jr. realized that he had no choice but to do whatever possible to keep his father in prison so he went to the FBI. This story is amazing and reads like fiction but is true.

If you are interested in mob history, this is a must read. If you like true crime this certainly meets the genre. If you have an interest in Chicago this book shows a shady side of the city. If you just want a memoir that is different than most and offers hope out of a level chaos not seen by the average citizen in the US.

This book is suggested.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tom Moore - Absolutely A Must Read!! March 23, 2011
By Tom
This book simply must be read!! Not just for the insight it provides into the inner workings of the mob. Lot's of books do that. But for the compelling and moving portrayal of the multi-faceted relationship between father and son. Franks Jr. tells it straight. He holds nothing back. The reader is given a behind the scenes, gritty view into the family dynamics of one of the most feared Chicago Outfit crews. This book does not attempt to glorify the mob. It attempts to tell the real, tragic story of those left in it's violent path. Understandably, it may be hard for some people to empathize or have compassion for someone who has spent much of his life cultivating a lifestyle of crime, violence, threats, deceit and lies. Read this book however, and it may just change your mind.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Omertà means Betrayal April 25, 2011
In this fast paced easy to read expose, Frank Calabrese Jr. lays out in a straightforward unsentimental way, the underside of the glamour and romance of being a part of the Chicago mob. As far as the eye can see, it is violence, betrayals, fear, intimidation, double-crosses, watching your back, and "contracted murder." This is the price one pays for a few shining moments of "fake respect" in the sun and glory of "mob-dome." As he makes clear, mob life, with few exceptions, is anything but fun and glamorous. It is hierarchical and class structured, with the "street grunts" doing most of the dirty work at slave wages, while the capos and above live the glamorous life of fun and sin - but all at the expense of their own families and ethnic communities.

Frank Jr., his brothers and uncle's fates were sealed as a result of being a part of the family and community in which the "alpha male" father was an uneducated, bully whose only way to escape poverty and make a respectable living was by exploiting his family members through his mob connections. He ruled with fear, intimidation, violence and selfishness -- exploiting his family without mercy and then taking them down into the abyss with him.

Frank Jr. was late getting the message about his father, he and Uncle Nick were cowards and enablers of the worse kind. For deep in their hearts they both felt all along that there was something inconsistent in the way Frank senior returned their unquestioned loyalty with more and more selfishness, public insults and brutality. It took a cocaine habit and a companion stretch in prison along side his father before Franky Jr. "wised-up" and mustered the courage to confront his father, who by then he realized, was little more than a self-absorbed homicidal maniac. Jr.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
The real mob from the inside.
Published 2 months ago by Bruce N Yarborough
5.0 out of 5 stars About one of the most important criminal cases in American history
This is an informative, well written, and entertaining book about one of the most important criminal cases in American history. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Bob G.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
real good book,,
Published 4 months ago by kevin
5.0 out of 5 stars The book arrived very quickly and in excellent condition. The overall...
The book arrived very quickly and in excellent condition. The overall story was captivating and hard to put down. I would recommend this book got an excellant read..
Published 4 months ago by Irma Smith
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Interesting and fast read!
Published 5 months ago by Don M.
2.0 out of 5 stars The author should go back to prison for writing this tripe.
Crap read. Written by an amateur about prison life and an abusive mob boss. I was expecting better, I gave it away and regret it (I should have burned it).
Published 5 months ago by ffinch66
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Book!
Husband enjoyed this book very much...I still haven't read it.
Published 6 months ago by SandyP
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Looks like Jr. made a buck on his own.
Published 6 months ago by Pat Costello
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
good reading
Published 8 months ago by Evelina M. Lazarowicz
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Cool book, if you're a Chicago guy you need to read this.
Published 8 months ago by B. Fitzpatrick
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More About the Author

Keith and Kent Zimmerman are a unique twin-brother writing team. They have written 18 books together. Their latest projects will be published in 2014, two music projects that include Shining Star, Braving the Elements of Earth Wind & Fire, co-written with Philip Bailey of EWF and published by Viking. Published by Broadway /Random House in March 2011, Operation Family Secrets is a gripping narrative nonfiction work about the Chicago mob. It's being developed as a major motion picture. Recent published works by "the Zimmermen" include Alice Cooper, Golf Monster with rock legend Alice Cooper for Crown/Random House as well as A Personal Stand, with Country superstar Trace Adkins published by Villard/Random House.

Their first literary project was Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs, John Lydon's acclaimed memoirs of the Sex Pistols and the London punk scene. Rotten was nominated for a Ralph J. Gleason Award in 1994, was a Number One bestseller in the UK, and is in print in six languages and has recently been reissued. Immediately after the release of Rotten, they co-authored a book in 1996 for St. Martin's Press entitled Daddy-O: Iguana Heads and Texas Tales about American Southwest photorealist painter and sculptor Robert "Daddy-O" Wade.

In 2000 the Zimmerman brothers scored their first New York Times bestseller with Hell's Angel: The Life and Times of Ralph "Sonny" Barger and the Hell's Angels Motorcycle Club. Hell's Angel has been published in fifteen countries. Four subsequent books written with Barger include Ridin' High, Livin' Free (a short story collection) and two thrillers, Dead In 5 Heartbeats and Six Chambers, One Bullet, and Freedom: Credos From the Road, all published by William Morrow/HarperCollins. Their sixth book, Soul On Bikes, was a true tale of an all-black/all-male/all-Harley motorcycle club called the East Bay Dragons, published by Motorbooks Int'l.

In 2004 BackBeat Books published the Zimmerman brothers' seventh book (and first music book since Rotten) called Sing My Way Home: Voices of the New American Roots Rock. In 2005 Simon & Schuster/Spotlight Entertainment published Mythbusters: The Explosive Truth Behind 30 of the Most Perplexing Urban Legends of All Time, based on the popular science television show seen worldwide on the Discovery Network. Next the Zimmermen completed a biography of Black Panther Party founder Huey P. Newton with David Hilliard. Huey: Spirit of the Panther was published by Avalon Press in 2006.

The Zimmermen also collaborated with the Teutul family--Paul Sr., Paul Jr., and Mikey--on Orange County Choppers: The Tale of the Teutuls for Warner Books. The book is also partially based on their hit television series, American Chopper. The Zimmermen also wrote The Art of Jazz, the official 50th Anniversary book for the Monterey Jazz Festival.

The two brothers began their writing careers in the music industry, having spent over two decades as Senior Editors with the national music trade magazine formerly known as Gavin. In April of 2005, the Zimmermen were named 2005 Writer Laureates by the San Francisco Friends of the Library. In addition, the Zimmermen teach a weekly creative writing class in H-Unit at San Quentin State Prison.

On the film front, Huey has been optioned for a mini-series by HBO, and Hell's Angel will star Mickey Rourke with Fox studios and director Tony Scott (Top Gun, True Romance) at the helm. Operation Family Secrets is also in development as a motion picture.

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