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Comment: The item shows wear from consistent use, but it remains in good condition and works perfectly. All pages and cover are intact (including the dust cover, if applicable). Spine may show signs of wear. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting. May include "From the library of" labels.
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Boss of Bosses: The Fall of the Godfather- The FBI and Paul Castellano Mass Market Paperback – May 1, 1992

4.3 out of 5 stars 52 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 1981 Paul Castellano, head of New York City's Gambino crime family, was at the height of his power. At age 66 he controlled an empire that dictated to much of the construction and meat businesses, had a major say in the operation of two supermarket chains and was involved in such standard mob enterprises as prostitution, loan sharking, etc. Then FBI agents O'Brien and Kurins set out to stop him. Planting a listening device in Castellano's Staten Island home, they were able to secure enough information to send many of the area's top mafiosi to prison. Castellano, however, was fatally shot, gangland style, on a Manhattan street in 1985, while he was being tried for conspiracy to commit murder and for operating a stolen car ring. Exemplary sleuths, competent writers, the authors recreate a tense, lively tale redolent of high living and lawlessness, full of shrewd observations that break the code of crime-speak, to which these long-suffering snoops were subjected during their electronic surveillance of the mob. First serial to New York magazine; film rights to Warner Brothers.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Castellano, boss of the Gambino crime family, was gunned down on a Manhattan street in 1985. FBI agents O'Brien and Kurins previously had planted a listening device in Castellano's home. Unlike such flamboyant mafioso as John Gotti, Castellano was quiet and circumspect, and the tapes provide somewhat less than expected about Mafia activities--they are most revealing about Castellano's affair with his maid. Despite their assignment, the authors respected Castellano, and Kurins actually was a favorable character witness for mobster Joseph Armone at his trial. They "have taken pains not to preach," and, however one views this approach, they largely succeed in telling an entertaining story that should prove popular. For crime collections.
- Gregor A. Preston, Univ. of California Lib., Davis
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 382 pages
  • Publisher: Dell Publishing; 1st edition (May 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440212294
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440212294
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 0.9 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #87,561 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on May 18, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I felt that Boss of Bosses was a great Mafia book. If you enjoy The Godfather then you'll love Boss of Bosses. I think my favorite part of the book was when the FBI had to plant a bug in Castallano's house. The tricky part was that Paul never left his house. One thing that was nice knowing, was that the authors were the actual detectives assinged to the case. This means it's true to life, no embelishing! One slow part in the book was the hours of tapes that were meaningless to the story that the FBI explianed. This is what kept me from giving the book five stars. I love hearing about mafia and this book was great for that. I knew I wasn't getting rumors I was getting the real scoop on things. I think everyone should read Boss of Bosses by Andris Kurins and Joseph O'Brien.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Thanx to these two FBI agents, I have a pretty good idea now on how this agency works. I approve of the tactics used when it comes to bring to justice this organizations of crime. Joe and Kurins sure knows how to get your attention. Their book, based on a real story is addictive. What in the world were they doing chasing people instead of writing. If they worked like they write, they gotta be the best the FBI had to offer. They must keep writing. Not only was their book an encyclopedia on how the FBI does their work, but also on the sacrifice an agent has to put and go through to get their work done. Thanks to these 2 pro-writters, for sharing with the world what it takes to be the best in your class. KEEP WRITING GUYS, PLEASE...
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
In "Boss of Bosses" the authors tell the vivid story of Paul Castellano's rise to the top of the Gambino crime family, and his sudden fall at the hands of John Gotti.

There were several points in the portrayal of Castellano's life where I sympathized with him. Here was a man who had worked hard to move up through the ranks, avoided any serious conflict with the authorities and who wished to 'rest on his laurels.' Castellano became a victim of isolation. It was not the velvet slippers or the silk pajamas, but what they represented that lead to his demise. His need to be perceived as a reputable business man, an executive, leads him to alienate those from whom support and counsel was critical. It could also be said that Castellano simply said too much to too many others. Time and again, his own words came back to haunt him and further the cause of his enemies. He seemed to lose sight of the 'business' he was in, decreeing rules from 'on high' and philandering with his Columbian mistress.

The law enforcement agents involved in the surveillance of Castellano clearly developed an affinity for him, blurring the lines between 'good and 'evil.' After all, they listened not only to meetings with other organized crime figures, but personal exchanges as well. At the conclusion of their investigation, agents knew Castellano not only as the Gambino family boss, but as a husband, father and an often cordial, cooperative man, ailing from the same human conditions anyone at his age may be battling.

In the end, the FBI's investigation seemed to me to serve as a catalyst in Castellano's murder and to install a more problematic figure in John Gotti.

"Boss of Bosses" is, in my opinion, a solid and accurate account of the decline of Paul Castellano and a must read for any one seriously interested in the Mafia and the FBI's ongoing effort to rid a nation of organized crime.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
i read a lot of books on crime,mafia & various illegal activities. my best book was mr nice a autobiography of howard marks life. not anymore,boss of bosses is totally mind blowing from start to finish. it gives a full account of Mr Paul's life from start to tragic end. i give full credit to the authors.go out & buy it now, you will thank me later
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This was written long before the Sopranos series made its HBO debut, but it could have been a blueprint for their series. The book, like the series, is filled with the appropriate mixture of sex, violence, and the more humdrum aspects of the lives of mafia boss Castellano and his associates.

The writing is so-so, filled with opinions and dramatizations that wouldn't feel quite right in a more scholarly work. But the color keeps the book moving at a reasonable pace, and the recorded dialogue of the mob members is, by turns, horrifying and funny.

Other reviewers have suggested that a little too much sympathy is extended towards the portrayal of Castellano, who is, after all, a cold-blooded murderer and therefore deserving of our scorn.

I disagree, and I really thought that this was the book's greatest strength. The very men who have dedicated their lives to taking murderers like Castellano out of circulation have, through years of familiarity, developed an understanding of Castellano as a human being.

This familiarity lends a terrific layer of moral grayness to the book that is missing from more sensationalistic writings, which either harshly condemn the crooks or laud them for their nasty achievements.

Agents O'Brien and Kurins see Castellano as he is-- a murderer, someone who deserves to be punished, but also a human being who wraps his wrongdoing in justifications, some of which are actually valid points.

We all have the capacity to do wrong, and Castellano is someone who was born into unfortunate circumstances and then proceeded to make a raft of very bad decisions. If he was a truly great man, he would have risen above his roots. If he was weak-willed and incompetent, he would have never gotten to his position of prominence.
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