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Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires Paperback – September 5, 2006
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Beginning with a brief history of the Sicilian origins of the Mafia, Raab exhaustively explains how the Mob took over New York before spreading to cities across America, particularly Las Vegas, their most successful outside venture. He also shows how the New York Mafia lost a great deal of power in the 1980s and '90s due to many significant busts and effective plea-bargaining. However, since the attacks of September 11, 2001, the F.B.I. has been focused mainly on external threats, leaving the Mafia room to regain some lost turf by moving into new avenues of crime. An investigative reporter for 40 years, Raab interviewed dozens of prosecutors, law enforcement officers, Mafia members, informants, and "Mob lawyers," providing anecdotes and inside information that tell the true story of the Mafia and their influence over the past 80 years. --Shawn Carkonen --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
For everyone else, this is an excellent review of the New York Mafia, what they did, who did it, and the enforcement brought against them. I own over a hundred organized crime books, and this is the one I would recommend to someone looking for the best possible overview of the Five Families. It is comprehensive, factual and well-written.
From its start during Prohibition, the founding of "The Commission" by Lucky Luciano and later events such as the whacking of Paul Castellano and the rise and fall of John Gotti, and the travails of sinister Mob figures like Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, probably the most vicious mobster ever, and Vincent "Chin" Gigante, to whom even Gotti was deferential, "Five Families" offers a comprehensive yet never tedious look into New York's five Mob families, or "borgatas" and their successes and failures.
While attention is paid to John Gotti, Raab wisely divvies up his time evenly among the families, avoiding the overkill of Gotti stories other books have fallen prey to. His work on more recent figures is especially interesting.
We have always had a fascination with charismatic criminals, from the old days of the West with Billy The Kid, Butch Cassidy, to Al Capone, Luciano and John Gotti. It's the stuff of legend, but we must remember not to become admirers of these outlaws, as Raab points out through his details of some of their meanest and sadistic acts. Nonetheless, it's compelling and a great view into the underworld, its way of life and its prime movers and shakers. Over 700 pages long, and worth every sentence.
However, these strengths are also its weaknesses. It focuses exclusively on New York City. It says how New York made satellites of Mafia Families in other cities but never explains how things worked in other cities or how the New York Families subjugated other mafia groups around the country. It also would have been intersting to learn how New York mafia groups related to and cooperated with families in other cities, especially Chicago. It never explains how the New York Families could run crews in other cities with active Mafia Families, like Newark and California.
Raab also relies heavily on FBI and Court transcripts, and sometimes his explaining the investigations and pursuit of the gangsters is too long and pulls the book off track. We want to learn about the Mafia and how it functions, not read a police investigative-procedural drama.
The most glaring mis-step is Raab's over-simplification and neglect of other criminal organizations, especially Meyer Lansky, Moe Dalitz and other Jewish gagnsters.Read more ›
Raab, a newspaper and television reporter with more than 40 years experience covering organized crime paints a realistic portrait of the Mafia. Avoiding glamorization, the author, who spent more than 25 years as a reporter with The New York Times, exposes the Mafia as a serious threat to honest citizens.
"The collective goal of the five families of New York was the pillaging of the nation's richest city and region," he writes.
The five families--Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese, and Lucchese--were responsible for corrupting labor unions to control waterfront commerce, garbage collection, the garment industry, and construction in New York. Later, they broadened their vistas to include the country, particularly Las Vegas, its most successful outside venture.
Since September 11, 2001, the author says, the F.B.I. has been focused mainly on external threats, the author notes. This gives it room to regain some lost turf by moving into new avenues of crime.
Exhaustive in its research and well-written, Five Families chronicles the tale of the rise and fall of New York's premier dons: Lucky Luciano, Paul Castellano and John Gotti. To carry his tale, Raab interviewed prosecutors, law enforcement officers, Mafia members, informants, and "Mob lawyers." The result: anecdotes and inside information that reveal the true story of the Mafia and its influence.
A masterpiece, this book will be considered a model of what great journalism should and can be.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Book arrived sooner than expected! Excellent general coverage of the famous five!Published 3 hours ago by Twain Two
Comprehensive is the word which to me best describes Mr. Raab's book. Well-researched, and to me it was interesting because it hit the main points of the New York organized crime... Read morePublished 21 days ago by JSMet
Pretty surely the best book I've ever read on organized crime. Raab writes with consummate skill and painstaking detail. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Odn
What I like best about this book is the absence of sensationalism and romanticism of the mafia life. These are criminals who cheated and murdered. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Kindle Customer
Do yourself a favour if you are into this kind of book read this one absolutely fantastic and even better this time around as it has been updated and has new info ...:)Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer