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Operation Family Secrets: How a Mobster's Son and the FBI Brought Down Chicago's Murderous Crime Family Hardcover – March 8, 2011

4.2 out of 5 stars 79 customer reviews

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  • Operation Family Secrets: How a Mobster's Son and the FBI Brought Down Chicago's Murderous Crime Family
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"I couldn’t stop reading this gripping account of Frank Calabrese Jr.’s decision to cooperate with the FBI that took down his father, uncle and the last American crime syndicate."-- Nick Pileggi, author and screenwriter of Wiseguys, Goodfellas and Casino

"An undeniably engaging tale, capturing the nitty-gritty of daily life in the "crews" of the Outfit. A useful and readable addition to Mob Lit." Kirkus reviews

About the Author

Frank Calabrese, Jr., lived in his native Chicago for thirty-nine years. Mentored by his father and brought into the Chicago outfit at age eighteen, he now resides in Arizona with his ex-wife and two children.

Keith and Kent Zimmerman have coauthored many New York Times and London Times bestselling books.

Paul Pompian, who has produced more than fifty motion pictures and television productions, was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago and came by his interest in the outfit naturally.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; First Edition edition (March 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307717720
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307717726
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #973,668 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a brutal story that chronicles a murderous "outfit" in the Chicago mob that is built around a psychopathic Father, Frank Calabrese Sr. and his son Frank Calabrese, Jr., who tells the story of a domineering abusive Father that forces him into the same way of life. The cold blooded descriptions of one murder after another are not for the squeamish. Frank Jr. who kept trying unsuccessfully to get out from under his multi-personality cold-blooded killing Father to try to lead a "straight" life... eventually winds up in a federal prison with his Father. Then he does the most unthinkable of the unthinkable. He puts his life on the line by contacting the FBI to rat on his Father... and agrees to wear a wire *IN THE PRISON YARD* to get taped confessions of his Father's almost uncountable amount of murders. The reader can feel the spine tingling tension and fear when the son takes a walk with his Father in the "yard" fully "wired-up". Jr. feels his Father is such a menace to society as well as already reneging on his pledge to get out of the "business" after prison, it's the only chance he himself has for a real life after prison. As if the emotional toll isn't high enough... simply ratting out his Father... but for Jr. to tell the whole story to the FBI he will have to include putting a noose around his Uncle Nick's neck, who Jr. has real affection for. Nick was involved in double digit murders either with... or at the bequest of Frank Sr. Though Nick was a cold-blooded killer himself... even he buckled under and cowered in the presence of Frank Sr. the few times he tried to stand up to Sr. regarding not forcing Jr. into "the-life"... he was physically and emotionally pummeled.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Operation Family Secret tells the story of one man and his life with a father that is a member of the Outfit, more commonly known as the mob. Now you would think this was based in a different era, but some of the stories and certainly the punishments handed out is as current as 2010. The first part tells the story from the oldest son of Frank Calabrese, Known as Frank Jr., who was forced to be a member of his fathers' crew. The names of numerous members of the Outfit are named with various crimes committed from loan sharking, bribes, including to murder. Frank Jr. Tried on numerous occasions to go legit, but was always reeled in by his father, who was a control freak. Once the Calabrese family had gotten caught, Frank Sr covered his himself, but left his brother and two sons to their own course through the legal system. Upon serving time in the same Federal prison as his father, Frank Jr. realized that he had no choice but to do whatever possible to keep his father in prison so he went to the FBI. This story is amazing and reads like fiction but is true.

If you are interested in mob history, this is a must read. If you like true crime this certainly meets the genre. If you have an interest in Chicago this book shows a shady side of the city. If you just want a memoir that is different than most and offers hope out of a level chaos not seen by the average citizen in the US.

This book is suggested.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A facinating book. The story of the Chicago 'Mob', told from the inside out. The names of the characters are listed on the first few pages, I found this to be extremly helpful in keeping track of the people in the book. I have read other books on the same subject, but none as well written or heartfelt. What a story, what a life Frank Calabrese Jr. has lived, and now is free to truly live his life to the fullest. I can't help but wish there is a volume TWO, a sequal or at least another chapter or two, coming soon! I have the feeling there is more to tell, more than we will ever know. Great book, you wont be able to put it down!
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Format: Hardcover
This book simply must be read!! Not just for the insight it provides into the inner workings of the mob. Lot's of books do that. But for the compelling and moving portrayal of the multi-faceted relationship between father and son. Franks Jr. tells it straight. He holds nothing back. The reader is given a behind the scenes, gritty view into the family dynamics of one of the most feared Chicago Outfit crews. This book does not attempt to glorify the mob. It attempts to tell the real, tragic story of those left in it's violent path. Understandably, it may be hard for some people to empathize or have compassion for someone who has spent much of his life cultivating a lifestyle of crime, violence, threats, deceit and lies. Read this book however, and it may just change your mind.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Great read. Heard about it on NPR during an interview of the author. Ordered it that same night and started reading it as soon as it arrived. Really gives an insite into how the mob still tries to expand in modern days and what a family member had to go thru just to break away and start a new life.
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Format: Hardcover
In this fast paced easy to read expose, Frank Calabrese Jr. lays out in a straightforward unsentimental way, the underside of the glamour and romance of being a part of the Chicago mob. As far as the eye can see, it is violence, betrayals, fear, intimidation, double-crosses, watching your back, and "contracted murder." This is the price one pays for a few shining moments of "fake respect" in the sun and glory of "mob-dome." As he makes clear, mob life, with few exceptions, is anything but fun and glamorous. It is hierarchical and class structured, with the "street grunts" doing most of the dirty work at slave wages, while the capos and above live the glamorous life of fun and sin - but all at the expense of their own families and ethnic communities.

Frank Jr., his brothers and uncle's fates were sealed as a result of being a part of the family and community in which the "alpha male" father was an uneducated, bully whose only way to escape poverty and make a respectable living was by exploiting his family members through his mob connections. He ruled with fear, intimidation, violence and selfishness -- exploiting his family without mercy and then taking them down into the abyss with him.

Frank Jr. was late getting the message about his father, he and Uncle Nick were cowards and enablers of the worse kind. For deep in their hearts they both felt all along that there was something inconsistent in the way Frank senior returned their unquestioned loyalty with more and more selfishness, public insults and brutality. It took a cocaine habit and a companion stretch in prison along side his father before Franky Jr. "wised-up" and mustered the courage to confront his father, who by then he realized, was little more than a self-absorbed homicidal maniac. Jr.
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