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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An insightful and great read
I normally dont write reviews on products but felt to do so on this item. First the writing is phenomenal and very clean. The story is very compelling as you follow Andrew on his journey into the criminal under world. His accounts on the people he associated with and did jobs with paint a clean picture of what the mafia under world is really like. I felt that Andrew was...
Published on May 1, 2011 by Mikey B

versus
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Plenty Of Potential, But Came Up a Little Short
Mafia books are one of my guilty pleasures, and I have read a fair number of works on the subject. I had never heard of Andrew DiDonato before picking up this book, although many of his bosses are familiar names. The book is the story of Andrew's mob life, from beginning to end, and it attempts to show mob life at the street level rather than the usual stories of...
Published 17 months ago by Andy in Washington


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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An insightful and great read, May 1, 2011
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I normally dont write reviews on products but felt to do so on this item. First the writing is phenomenal and very clean. The story is very compelling as you follow Andrew on his journey into the criminal under world. His accounts on the people he associated with and did jobs with paint a clean picture of what the mafia under world is really like. I felt that Andrew was completely honest and put it all out there for the world to see without holding back. I will be recommending this book to other readers who share an interest in the mafia and want to see it from a view of a person who lived it as a solider.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A heartfelt story about what the mob is really like, February 21, 2011
By 
Morgan St James "Morgan" (Marina Del Rey CA and Las Vegas NV) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Surviving the Mob: A Street Soldier's Life in the Gambino Crime Family (Paperback)
Reading a book written by people you know is an entirely different experience than picking something off the shelf that was either recommended or caught your eye. I've known Denny Griffin for a few years now, and through him know Andrew DiDonato. Besides being friends, I've interviewed both of them for my column on examiner.com, so while awaiting the release of this book I truly wasn't sure what it would be like.

The Andrew I know is a charismatic, funny guy and is a delight to talk to. The Andrew you meet in the book is someone else--a dangerous guy born into a family where being part of the mob was a normal thing. Loyalties were skewed, because although the top guys expected complete allegiance from you, when the chips were down it didn't work the same way in reverse. I had a hard time picturing Andrew as that guy, and yet I know it was his life for so many years. From being an "up and coming" street soldier on the track to becoming a made man, to someone betrayed by his friends and on the run. Damned if he did, and damned if he didn't.

At the age of fourteen, a time when kids lucky enough to be born into a different environment were totally wrapped up in sports and family outings, Andrew had already set foot on the path to a life of crime. His hero was his uncle who was heavily involved in the mob, and later killed. By the time he was twenty he was fully immersed in the life, and so were his friends. In his world of crime, Andrew says you knew you could be asked to kill your friend someday or they could be asked to kill you, no questions asked. That's what happened some years later.

One of Andrew's good friends was killed by another mob member who was kind of an off-and-on friend. At that time Andrew was helpless to do anything but grieve the loss, because his own life was or could be on the line. Still, he plotted and planned for a way to avenge his friend's death.

Griffin has a knack for combining his position as a narrator with Andrew's heartfelt dialogue to create a compelling book you don't want to put down until the last word on the last page. You feel his ups and downs during those years of his life--shock, joy, humor--it's all there. Forget what you see in the movies. Just like movie sets are often just a building's false front with nothing behind it, such is the myth that Andrew held as truth until it began to collapse around him.

You feel his terror and confusion, and more, the yank at your heart when he realized his mother would kill to protect him. You ache for the loss of contact with his son and his remorse at some of the things he did in his earlier life. Even today, reconciliation with his son is foremost in his mind. People can change. You applaud him for turning his life around and doing what's in his power now to help others and to discourage boys and young men from following in his early footsteps. He's become what we would call a "stand-up guy."

I'm proud to call Denny and Andrew friends, and highly recommend this book. It offers a skillful and well told peek inside what mob life is really like---without the theatrical window dressing.

MORGAN ST. JAMES
A Corpse in the Soup, Seven Deadly Samovars
Writing as Arliss Adams: Devil's Dance The Devil's Due
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars pretty good stuff, March 1, 2011
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This review is from: Surviving the Mob: A Street Soldier's Life in the Gambino Crime Family (Paperback)
Sat down and read it in one night. Very entertaining and detailed history of Andrew DiDonato's life as a grunt in the Gambino Family. It's nice to hear about the low level soldiers once in the while instead of the constantly re-hashed stories of Gotti, Castellano etc. Besides long sentences for drug dealing, DiDonato also points out that greed and complete lack of respect and loyalty from the bosses towards their crews are also what has contributed to the breakdown and disarray of the Families.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating examination of a streetwise soldier, June 17, 2011
By 
NeonKnight (New Hampshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Surviving the Mob: A Street Soldier's Life in the Gambino Crime Family (Paperback)
I've read dozens upon dozens of books covering the American mafia, and I have a few favorites. But Surviving the Mob is the first book that compelled me to write a review. Griffin's account of DiDonato's life and often-harrowing adventures as a Gambino associate doesn't fall into the familiar trap of padding pages with mob history that readers have already encountered numerous times (particularly with the Gambino family). The depth of research through interviews with DiDonato is stunning, and Griffin is to be commended for a well-crafted approach that flows well.

As for DiDonato's story itself, we finally experience the day-to-day details of a modern street soldier through the words of a mobster who isn't seeking to create an after-the-fact reputation as a notorious tough guy. Instead, he relays his triumphs and defeats through a unique memory tinged with confidence, fear, and hope. Do not miss this mob book.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Story of a Street Soldier, January 14, 2011
Surviving the Mob: A Street Soldier's Life Inside the Gambino Crime Family
As a reader, not a critic, I always look forward to my friend, Dennis Griffin's next book. Dennis writes as he speaks-lucid and to the point. He is very knowledgeable of his subject, whether it is medical, criminal or affairs of the heart.
In this book, Surviving the Mob, Andrew DiDonato tells us how one becomes part of the mob. The money and success soon turns into time in prison. The glamour fades as Andrew's life is threatened by his very own crew.
Now Andrew is helping train detectives in mob techniques and counsels kids who may be at risk of becoming involved in the criminal life.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The real deal, January 7, 2011
This review is from: Surviving the Mob: A Street Soldier's Life in the Gambino Crime Family (Paperback)
I loved this book. It's not a work of fictional characters inside one of your typical mob stories. This is the real thing. I looked forward to each new page in this true to life story of a man who had lived a life we can only imagine. The book is very well written and is a great read. I highly recommend it!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very insightful look into a street soldier's life, June 11, 2011
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This review is from: Surviving the Mob: A Street Soldier's Life in the Gambino Crime Family (Paperback)
All of Dennis Griffin's books are great, and this one is no exception. It is a behind the scenes look into a Gambino street soldier's life. It also details his decision to become a member of the Witness Protection Program. I highly recommend it.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic!!, February 3, 2011
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This review is from: Surviving the Mob: A Street Soldier's Life in the Gambino Crime Family (Paperback)
I highly recommend this book. This is a real page turner! Could not put it down! I love Dennis Griffin's books and this is at the top of my list! Written so well the reader can feel what it was like to live that life. A lesser man would not have made it out, and many have not. My hat's off to you Andrew, continue on your path.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Plenty Of Potential, But Came Up a Little Short, March 31, 2013
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Mafia books are one of my guilty pleasures, and I have read a fair number of works on the subject. I had never heard of Andrew DiDonato before picking up this book, although many of his bosses are familiar names. The book is the story of Andrew's mob life, from beginning to end, and it attempts to show mob life at the street level rather than the usual stories of higher-up bosses.

=== The Good Stuff ===

* The authors give us a look at the total life-cycle of a relatively low-level mobster. DiDonato starts out as being an outsider, and works very hard to become an insider. Once he accomplishes that, you can feel his disillusionment as he begins to question the "ethics" of the Gambino family. His tale relates the disappointment when he finds that "honor among thieves" is more a legend than a fact.

* Without giving away any more of the plot that is already in the description, DiDonato ultimately leaves the mob, and does so in fear of giving up his life to the mob and his freedom to the judicial system. The book does a nice job of relating how a mobster's life can come crashing down on many fronts at the same time, and his reflections of the sacrifices he has made versus the ultimate rewards. DiDonato claims this as one of the reasons for telling his story, an attempt to persuade others of the risks and likely outcomes of his choice of lifestyle.

* The book is a fairly easy read, and move along rapidly. Violence is obviously a part of the book, but is not a major component of the text, nor overly sensationalized. Unusual for this genre, there are not a large number of characters that are tough to keep straight, and most of the chapters (arranged chronologically) are fairly self-contained. I read the book in a day or two, and it held my interest throughout.

=== The Not-So-Good Stuff ===

* My biggest disappointment was that there was nothing really new, or particularly interesting. I hadn't read of DiDonato's exploits previously, but they were all very familiar tales of every other mobster I have read about. The narrative is written mostly at a higher level, without a lot of details, and the story often lapses into a generic mobster's tale. The biggest tagline, that there really is no honor code among mobsters, has been exposed before and in more riveting detail.

* The book is written in two voices. The first is a narrative voice, and the second is DiDonato's own first-person accounts. For some reason I have always hated this combination, and not really sure why.

* The authors seem to have made a conscious decision to cover more events, but in less detail. It does give a nice overview, and helps to tell a complete story of DiDonato's life. Unfortunately I have found that the details of these stories are more interesting and attention-grabbing than the overviews. Just a personal preference of mine.

=== Summary ===

The book is certainly worth a read, if for no other reason to capture the rise and fall of a Gambino soldier. It never really achieves "spellbinding" status, but it was certainly good enough to keep reading. My ultimate judgement is that the storyline is just too generic, and I probably won't remember much from the book in a year or so.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jobs Not Advertised At A Schools Career Day!, January 7, 2011
This review is from: Surviving the Mob: A Street Soldier's Life in the Gambino Crime Family (Paperback)
I have been salivating over the release of this book for months. I was given a glimpse at an early draft and have been eagerly waiting for it to hit the book stores. That happened a few days ago, and I had a copy in my hands!

I know author Denny Griffin quite well, and I have talked to Andrew DiDonato on more that a few occasions. I had a hunch that Surviving The Mob would be quite the collaboration, and it is. It is a blockbuster and then some.

Let me introduce the protagonists, Denny Griffin is a well known author, crime writer and heads up a new venture Crimewire. Andrew DiDonato grew up in New York and at the tender age of 14 entered the world of crime. A life that led him into the world of organized crime.

Surviving The Mob is the story of Andrew DiDonato. In 1997 his world crashed around him, he found himself a wanted man, the Gambino crime family had a price on his head, and the FBI also were hot on his heels. As he told me:

I had two choices, death on the street, or death behind bars

Either the Mob would hit him while he was on the run, or some inmate on the inside would shank him. Life looked very bleak, and very short. In this darkest of darkest times Andrew DiDonato made a decision that even today is still causing tremors in the world of Organized Crime, he did the unthinkable, he became a government witness.

Surviving The Mob is a book that operates on several levels. It certainly lays out Andrews many criminal adventures, some of which are truly amusing. Stealing the car of another crime families money collection guy and finding $80,000 in a briefcase, alas the code of ethics forced him to return the car and the money is a great example. Andrew returned everything but did explain that the cash was $10 short, well the gas tank was empty!

The humor however is far outweighed by the seriousness of his story. Andrew DiDonato even as a teenager was known for his violence, fists gave way to baseball bats, the bats in turn were retired in favor of guns. What probably has saved Andrew is that at no point has he actually killed another human being.

Because of his co-operation with law enforcement he became part of the Witness Protection Program, a program that is far different from the Hollywood version. In my discussions with Andrew this was always a touchy subject. Surviving The Mob sheds a little light on the subject, but just enough to get the mind working. Although it is years later Andrew still has his defenses up. It is always possible that a ghost from the past might return.

I have to admit that probably know more about Surviving The Mob than the regular reviewer, but being objective and taking a step back, I have to say that is a supremely well crafted book. Denny Griffin is a great writer, Andrew DiDonato adds the action. The balance works just great. Denny is soft spoken, but usually gets his point across, Andrew is a little more forthright in his views, I can only imagine the interesting conversations that took place.

Surviving The Mob is well worth reading, many names that you have seen on TV or read about in the newspaper are included. Andrew DiDonato may have been just a Foot Soldier in the Gambino crime family, but his testimony effectively removed an entire generation of New York Mobsters.

One thing is crystal clear Andrew DiDonato deeply regrets his previous career choice. The Andrew of today is a far different man from the one associated with organized crime.
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Surviving the Mob: A Street Soldier's Life in the Gambino Crime Family
Surviving the Mob: A Street Soldier's Life in the Gambino Crime Family by Dennis N. Griffin (Paperback - January 1, 2011)
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