Customer Reviews: King of the Godfathers: Joseph Massino and the Fall of the Bonanno Crime Family (Pinnacle True Crime)
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on September 13, 2006
Great read, goes into many areas that have up in till now been unknown. Gives insight to Massino's family life, his Crime life and how he got where he did.

This book gives you a feel for all the players, the FBI, the US Attorneys,the defense lawyers. It goes into the history of the crime families, how they started and how the Bonnono's were looked down on and how Joseph put them back into power. Good background in his crew and the men that ratted him out. Lots of facts, author met with Massio's family and also gets information from a unknown source. Anyone interested in true crime stories or Mob stories will love this book.
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on December 26, 2006
Joe Massino used the name of the Massino family instead of the Bonanno family because he felt Joe Bonanno sold out the mob by writing a tell-tale book that spilled family secrets. The Massino family suffered the embarrassment of being infiltrated by Joseph Pistone (Donnie Brasco). Massino's paranoia led him to mark for assassination those who had knowledge of the hits he had orchestrated throughout the years. The book centers around three captains that Massino had marked for assassination, and whose deaths among others, led to a trial in which he was sentenced to prison for life. The old mafia rules of not singing to the authorities apparently doesn't hold today as several members told what they knew regarding Massino's role in order to seek a lighter sentence. A virtual treasure trove of information was provided to the authorities as the dominoes began to fall. Massino, himself, fell in line with the other informants in order to avoid a death sentence. The book includes some nasty photos of mob hits in addition to some cartoonish photos of mobsters with bulging bellies who attended too many meetings where pasta was a staple. The book includes a number of mob hits in addition to a significant section devoted to the trial of Joseph Massino. The book clearly illustrates loyalty within the mob is in the past tense. Massino certainly knew that as he dispatched anyone who knew about his sordid past. The author did a fine job with the book, and fans of crime books will enjoy it.
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on June 18, 2007
I'm a huge mafia head and I know almost everything about New York's mafia scene. This book opened up a few new things to me ESPECIALLY about the murders of Sonny Black. This book is a touches with the intro the La Cosa Nostra, How the Bonanno crime famlily got started, How the murder of Carmine Galante went down, Who actually murdered Sonny Black & ends with Why Big joe became a rat. Towards the end the book does dry out, but it's still worth the buy.
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VINE VOICEon September 20, 2011
The title exaggerates the prominence of this man. Kind of elevates him, giving him more stature and status than it is warranted. Yes, he probably was the last of the godfathers for everyone knows the "cosa nostra" started disintegrating during the reign of the flashy John Gotti, with his expensive suits and his incredibly big mouth, blabbering away any chance he could. Also the fact that more cooperating witnesses have come about as a result of the good offensive work by part of the government against organized crime.
The book primarily is like a recollection of all instances leading to the final indictments against the Bonano family, which by the way had already been disgraced for a prior Don revealing the secrets of the organization and the lifestyle. In the past that would have not happen for the code of silence was as important as anything. The new mafia took care of changing all that, becoming increasingly more fidgety at the idea of doing time for their crimes, they all resorted for the witness protection programs, which by the way, must be booming these days.
Massino was in the end another rat that did not go down honorably and disappointed even his close family when he decided to spill the beans. Actually is kind of funny how many before and after decided on the same thing. All the way to the Valachi papers, the act of betrayal was the exception not the norm. Today is the norm and not the exception. To call this guy the King of the Godfathers is probably a gimmick to sell books but in reality, besides making lots of money, this guy comes across as an illiterate, violent thug right around the lines of killing without a conscience. The mafia is known for killing anyone they suspect or anyone they basically desire. Among them life expectancy is a thing of delicate webs that can be shattered anytime. The funny thing is they all know it but the money makes it worth the risk.
There have been better Godfathers to emulate than this one. Perhaps a better title would have been "The Last Godfather". Even though by reading this book it did not appear he was really a full fledged godfather. The book deals with the pursuit, capture, trial and indictments of the latest version of tough guys. No longer what they use to be, never the less they managed to keep on tracking even in the 21st century.
The book is well researched and for that all the credit goes to the writer, but being more a chronological series of events rather than a deep biography of Massino. With this book the chapter is closed and the books of this genre can be put to rest. The best of the best is behind now and even in modern times the mentality of the mafia is the same: make money and kill along the way any one that needs (prove or unproven) to be killed. Gruesome crimes but more and more often not even being careful to make the bodies disappear to never be found again. According to the book most of the unlucky that got wasted were eventually found.
I rate it 3 stars not to disrespect the author, which like I have mentioned did a stellar job gathering all the bits and pieces, but in the end it did not have the absorption power of Good Fellas to name one. The final days of the Bonannos concentrating in Joseph Massino, that cut a deal with the government after profiting for years and years with the growing power he enjoyed. At times described like a different kind of Don only to dissipate all doubts when one reads about his modus operandi. 3 Stars for the entertainment value!
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on June 20, 2008
i liked the way this book gave alot of info about the wives of mob figures.I've always wondered what the wives knew about their husband's activities and how they rationalized it. The wives are a convenient way to hide and transfer the assets of mobsters and they should bear some(or alot) of the guilt.The one DA in the book was putting pressure on mobster wives and this was a tactic I was unaware of and have wondered why mobsters' wives were considered,"untouchable".After all who is too often pressuring the mobster to bring in more money?
Joe Massino or "Joe Wagons"(nicknamed for his sandwich and coffee truck business) is represented in this book as one of the "Last Dons".Because law enforcement techniques (but mainly "legalized" gambling) are making the "family" less profitable and more dangerous, more and more mobsters are turning "states evidence".This book tells the tale of how law enforcement is breaking the comraderie of mobsters who previously took a "blood oath" to be faithful to the mob.Behind the facade of the "ham sandwuch guru",the story of Massino, is one filled with scams and murder.Apparently there's not much money in ham sandwiches,but it does get a person out into the working world to promote their scams.This book will keep you glued.Lots of gruesome photos which initially shock,but then as you read the history of the poor unfortunate you feel alot less sympathetic.(Just the mob's way of cleaning it's own house)!Well researched and highly readable
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VINE VOICEon July 24, 2007
Joseph Massino and others known to be involved in New York and New Jersey's Mafia families. This book is the real truth behind organized families (mostly Italian Catholic) just as in the Godfather movies and Sopranos television series. For those fans of the Sopranos who can't get enough of organized crime families will be shocked to read about the carnage in this book. I had run out of space writing all the names of those murdered or died in the blank pages of the book. I live in New Jersey and most of those names ring a familiar bell especially the Pizza Connection murders that was publicized all over television during the 1980s on the local news. Before he ran for President, Rudy Giuliani was going after the New York City crime families and of course, Leona Helmsley, for tax evasion. Giuliani himself an Italian Catholic New Yorker is barely mentioned in this book but he was partly responsible for the downfall of the families. Granted, this book is not for the squeamish. It's graphic and the pictures show the depravity and seriousness of the murders committed by Sammy the Bull Gravano and Joseph Massino. The pictures also show a close-knit family oriented activities like weddings and celebrations. Behind those photos lurks the darkness and evil, the organized crime families' downfall was brought upon by their pride, their several errors, and mistakes that often destroy businesses. Greed and pride are two big causes of the downfall. This book is about Joseph Massinio probably the last of the godfathers who survived only to go to prison with his family heartbroken and distraught over the family's betrayal. The book also has an index of those who survived and what has become of them. I think an index would have been a good idea. The book is well-written and researched but I wished an index and a family tree explaining the roles of the godfathers, associates, and others involved in organized crimes would have been useful too but it's a great book.
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on December 27, 2012
This is the story of the low-keyed but brutal Capo of the Bonanno crime family, Joe Massino. Joe was born in 1943 and worked his way up the food chain to become the chairman of the board -- based mostly on his steely resolve, his earning power, his brutality and on his ability to keep his mouth shut, his head down, and by stepping over more than just a few dead bodies, at least ten of which he had commissioned himself. He was the opposite of the flashy John Gotti, who he was close to and had counseled (to no avail) to keep his head down.

The book is a chronicling of the family's exploits under Joe's reign: his closeness to John Gotti; how he set up the hit for three rivals in a Brooklyn Social club, the mob wars of 1981, and the most famous incident during his 20-plus year reign that embarrassed the family into exile: The Joe Pistone incidence. The reader may recall that Joe Pistone, aka Donnie Brasco was in reality an FBI agent mole absconded inside the Bonanno crime family. The FBI was forced to pull the plug on the operation when incredibly, Massino was about to induct "Danny boy" into the exclusive Sicilian Mafioso club. The result of the two-year undercover operation was mass arrest within the Bonano family.

Although "Big Joe" escaped the FBI net at the time of the big take-down, Massino's and the family suffered unrecoverable embarrassment and he had to take the rap and pay the price for allowing an FBI mole to get so deep inside the mob that he was about to become a "made man." It so embarrassed the family that for an important stretch afterwards the Bananno Family was sidelined and cut out of the New York concrete, drugs, and cement contracting action. However, as luck would have it, this turned out to be a fortuitous turn of circumstance for Big Joe, as while the Bonanno family was "put on ice" in semi-exile, the FBI wiretaps had "rolled up" the other families based primarily on wiretaps of precisely the industries the Bananno's had been exiled from.

For most of his life Joe Massino had waxed eloquent about being loyal to the Mafia "code of omerta," and being a "standup guy," who would not "rat out" his friends. However, when his number two, his underboss and brother-in-law, Salvatore Vitale, "ratted him out" for the murder of the very man who had allowed Pistone to sneak into the family, Massino too got "rat religion" and began singing like a canary to save his own skin.

Massino's life spans both the glory days of the mob and the final days of its demise -- he being the "last of the Mohegans." For with his capture, all of the five New York families had finally been rolled up. As for the book itself, as far as mob prose goes, the writing here is uninspired. Add to that the fact that the author seemed less sure of his sources and facts than I am, and this is at most a three star production.
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on February 3, 2013
this is an inside story of the Bonnano family which absolutely lived up to my expectations and tells many existing and some new facts about the Bonnano family this book is hard to put down and I really enjoyed reading it. So do I recommend it? AbsoyouknowwhatIwannasaylutely
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on April 16, 2008
King Of The Gordfathers is an extremely well written book! I found it very deep and informative, so much so that I wondered how Anthony DeStefano got the 'members of the family' to reveal all of the inside stories. This book opens up the silence that was for so many years repressed and only speculated about. Mr. DeStefano also shows the work of the FBI and law enforcement agencies in finally putting pieces together that brought down one of the last of the 'old world' families. A big plus are the crystal clear photo section and an epilogue on 'Where They Are Now' King Of The Godfathers is a very detailed book that one needs to take the time to think about as you read through its chapters. Being of Sicilan heritage, I was very impressed, enlightened and educated, let alone a bit surprised! This book also shows why Mr.DeStefano won a Pulitzer Prize in 1991. You will not be disappointed in reading!
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on February 14, 2013
Anthony DeStefano's 'The Last Godfather' (arrived to me with the silly alternate title 'The King of Godfathers', immediately a red flag of things to come) is a poorly written perspective of Joey Massino's rise to become boss of the Bonanno Family. The first few pages actually shine - govt agents stake themselves out near Massino's Howard Beach home in January 2003, eating Dunkin Donuts (yup) with warrants for the big man's arrest, waiting for 4-5 AMish to barge in and strike. The conversation in the car afterwords, ranging from the brutal 1981 triple hit of capos Indelicato, Giaccone, and Trinchera to the best pizza in the area (Casa Blanca, his former restaurant near Fresh Pond Road) are great. After that, it goes down hill relatively quickly. The rehashing of the Appalachian incident, the Castellammarese war, Joe Bananas rise etc is too familiar and will quickly bore those who know already know the history of their thing. I felt like I was reading yesterday's newspaper today. I'm never one to care about this kind of thing but the careless typos and misspellings are simply off the charts, with seven or eight alone before you even hit page 100. Massino's rise and fall should've and possibly still could be told much better by a more seasoned author. Fugazy ~ get a better LCN read for your bucks.
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