Customer Review

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Minimalist History of the Mafia, February 6, 2003
This review is from: The Complete Idiot's Guide(R) to the Mafia (Paperback)
Trying to establish a true history of the Mafia, one that is both explicit and accurate, is about as meaningful as a trying to put together a true history of the CIA or Kennedy Assassination. There are two kinds of writers of Mafia, those who overstate its power and influence and those who understate it. Capeci is among the latter, though it seems for no obvious reason other than opinion given the minimal use of sources and bibliographical materials he documents, hardly sufficient justification. I suspect the truth probably lies somewhere in between.
The strength of this book is the information it provides about recent Mafia history particularly of the 5 New York Families, largely derived from Capeci?s journalistic and law enforcement sources. Here he excels and seems to know his material quite well. It falls short, however, in being a comprehensive, or even good or entertaining account of that overall history. I would recommend Stephen Fox?s Blood and Power and Nash?s Encyclopedia of Organized Crime for that.
The non-NY families are given scant coverage in this book and some very important moments in LCN history, such as the 1930 Atlantic City Conference establishing the current ?System? as it is known today envisioned by Johnny Torio, are not even mentioned, while the importance of other?s such as Luciano?s role in the Castellemmarese wars, is understated.
Though it is true that they aren?t as powerful as they once were, Capeci?s assumption that the MOB is dead in many states and all but extinct in others seems a bit pre-mature at best and ignores the LCN?s resiliency and adjustment to new circumstance, both threats and opportunities, that it has shown in the past, as well as it?s ability to adapt defensively to changes in tactics of the legal system and law enforcement that has kept it around for so long.
Overall a good starter, with valuable info on recent events of the 5 NY families, but hardly thorough and very dry in delivery.
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