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Serpico Mass Market Paperback – April 24, 1997

4.5 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"[A] raw and moving portrait." -- -- Chicago Sun-Times

"[A] raw and moving portrait." -- -- Chicago Sun-Times

"Excellent." -- Newsweek

"[A] raw and moving portrait." -- Chicago Sun-Times

About the Author

Peter Maas's is the author of the number one New York Times bestseller Underboss. His other notable bestsellers include The Valachi Papers, Serpico, Manhunt, and In a Child's Name. He lives in New York City.

Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTorch (April 24, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061012149
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061012143
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,098,824 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
I'd like to begin by saying that Serpico is a very great man. Without question he is one of my heroes. I respect his complete integrity. I think this book should be required reading. It shows the importance of integrity. However, I have one major criticism of the book. When Peter Maas wrote it, he had his own agenda. He wrote the book after he wrote The Valachi Papers. Valachi placed Italian-Americans in a negative light. So Maas wanted to focus on an extremely positive American of Italian descent. The only problem is that he did so at the cost of giving fair credit to other people who were involved. In the book and film, Serpico's former friend, David Durk, is reduced to a very secondary role. In fact, the book suggests that Durk's reasons for fighting corruption alongside Serpico are politically motivated. I've read other books about Serpico and Durk. Serpico was certainly incorruptible and a paragon of virtue. However, he would not have gone to the Knapp Commission if Durk had not persuaded him to do so. The two fought corruption together. A proper book would have been entitled SERPICO AND DURK. Maas story is quite exciting. Serpico was very much a street cop. Durk, on the other hand, although equally incorruptible, was a desk cop. They are both men of the highest caliber, and both deserve equal praise. Although I'm disappointed about the treatment of Durk, I still think Serpico is must reading. (P.S. Amazon, you should refer readers to Durk's biography, which is entitled CRUSADER. It's certainly not nearly as exciting as SERPICO, but Serpico does play a large part in the book.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
So you want to be a New York City cop? Read this book and make your decision. Even if your aspirations are not towards law enforcement in the big city, read it anyway. This true story takes the reader from the idealistic beginings to the hopeless conclusion of Frank Serpico's police career that spanned eleven years. From the fitting of his first police uniform, heart pounding rides in Brooklyn radio cars, plainclothes assignments, repeatedly explaining to fellow cops that he is not on the take, feeling his frustration and sometimes elation at every small battle he encounters and one brick wall after another in the way of trying to make things right in a city that sometimes doesn't know it's left, from it's right. Anyone who has taken on a unpopular cause will relate to the desparity and loneliness that was felt by Frank Serpico during a great deal of his career. This book was well researched and well written and is still fresh twenty five years after it was first published. It is very detailed and a true depictation of the everyday life of a cop in New York City.
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Format: Paperback
SERPICO is a fine true crime retelling of the story of Frank Serpico (Detective NYPD, retired) who battled against endemic corruption among New York's Finest in the 1960s.

Peter Maas, who brought us THE VALACHI PAPERS, has written a satisfying but somewhat lightweight recounting of the facts and circumstances of Serpico's career. Maas misses, mostly, in failing to involve the reader fully in the tremendous emotional travail that Serpico felt during his long, frustrating, and ultimately inconclusive one man crusade against police corruption.

As a New Yorker, this reviewer has respect for "The Finest." Serpico was hardly the only honest cop in New York circa 1966. But he was one of the only cops to seek to exorcise the demons that beset the police force, root and branch. In this era of high goverment scandal, SERPICO is an important book.

Frank Serpico became a Patrolman in 1960, and as he was transferred around the City on various assignments came into contact with cops who routinely shook down criminals---mostly small numbers men and bookmakers with fuzzy Mafia connections---for tens of thousands of dollars per month per precinct, while allowing them to operate. The 1960s fixation on illegal gambling as a major urban problem is an almost charming quirk of this book.

The practice was so typical that his fellow officers automatically put Serpico "on the pad." When he refused to take graft he became an object of suspicion. This sense of mistrust was not lessened by Serpico's eccentric (for a cop) lifestyle.
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2 Comments 8 of 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Peter Maas artistically tells a story of a man who always wanted to be a "good cop." Unfortunately, the dream is shattered when Frank Serpico confronts wide-spread corruption in the NYC Police Department. The famous Knapp Commission is a result of Serpico's complaints about corruption on the force.
Unfortunately, Peter Maas's story could be told about many large urban police departments. Make no mistake about it, corruption, bigotry, and racism are all a part of law enforcement. It was the case back in the 60's - 70's, and it is still the case today. Consequently, Peter Maas's story about "one good cop" fighting a sea of corruption is still relevant today.
The story drags at times. But, otherwise, it is quick reading. It is definitely a story that needs to be read. Hence, I recommend this book. Police corruption is still a current topic. But, more importantly, Serpico's story is one of hope. At least there is "one good cop" out there trying to make a difference. And, knowing this, has made a difference in the way I view law enforcement professionals. That is, they are not all bad.
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