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The Silent Don: The Criminal Underworld of Santo Trafficante Jr. Paperback – January 16, 2009

4.3 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Although this sprawling, well-referenced Mob bio is nominally about Santo Trafficante Jr., Deitche necessarily starts with Santo Sr., who flew under law enforcement's radar and took advantage of his early rivals' bloody squabbling to create the organized crime empire he eventually handed over to his namesake. Both Trafficantes so adeptly dodged publicity that Deitche was hard-pressed to find significant documentation of Sr.'s activities before his 1930s emergence as the Tampa, Florida, Mafia boss. At the time when Luciano, Lansky, and Capone moved away from ethnic divisions within gangs, the Trafficante crew remained Sicilian-dominated. Maintaining close ties to New York's Five Families and Chicago's Outfit, Santo Jr.'s organization participated in most major Mob high jinks of the latter twentieth century, including leadership roles in such alleged CIA-Mob partnerships as the Bay of Pigs invasion and assassination plots involving Castro and JFK. Deitche presents the sprawling Trafficante story in luscious detail and appends a bulging bibliography of related material. This excellent gangster study handily fills a big gap in Mob literature. Mike Tribby
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Scott M. Deitche is the author of 5 books and on organized crime, including Cigar City Mafia: A Complete History of the Tampa Underworld, and The Silent Don: The World of Santo Trafficante Jr. He has also written dozens of articles for local and national magazines and newspapers, including the regular column Scott Deitche s Libation Lounge for Cigar City Magazine, a column devoted to spirits and unusual cocktails. Scott has been featured on The Discovery Channel, The History Channel, A&E, C-SPAN, and both national and local news and radio shows. Scott is one of the few writers who has donated items to the Mafia Museum in Las Vegas, and is a regularly-featured guest speaker there. A high-tech, visual effects-filled true crime travel television series entitled Mobtown America, based on Scott s popular walking tours of Mafia sites, has just started being shopped by Big Machine Productions. Scott lives in St. Petersburg, FL. with his family. Scott s favorite cocktail is the Negroni.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Barricade Books (January 16, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1569803552
  • ISBN-13: 978-1569803554
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.6 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #837,006 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
For those who don't know, Santo Trafficante, Jr., was the Mob boss of the Tampa, Florida area from at least the late 50s to his death in the 1980s, and he may have had some sort of connection with JFK's assassination. Scott Deitche does a marvelous job of giving us his background and details about his life, as well as other incidents in the Tampa crime family during his reign.

Deitche's second book is very impressive. He has shown tremendous growth and uses a wealth of primary sources, including oral interviews of living relatives of deceased mobsters. For the researcher, the endnotes are greatly appreciated. As far as writing style, it's almost academic compared to the informal style of his first book. So if you want to know what went on in the field of Florida organized crime in the second half of the twentieth century, this is the book for you. If you are just interested in true crime, this is also for you. And for those interested in Tampa or Florida history, I think you will enjoy it too.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"The Silent Don" is the story of Santo Trafficante, longtime Mafia boss of South Florida. SD provides an endless parade of mafiadom, crime personalities and corrupt officials. Author Deitche has certainly done his homework. Like a good reporter, the author buttresses his text with piles of references and footnotes, almost to the point of overkill. SD touches many the many bases of Trafficante's line of work, but two chapters stand out: 1) Chapter 6 deals with the "good old days" in Havana before Fidel Castro overthrew the place, closed the casinos and kicked the mob out. What a fun, free wheeling, anything goes place Havana must have been-and how profitable for the bosses like ST. One wishes this fascinating sector had been longer. 2) Chapter 15 takes us to, if not down, the slippery slope of the JFK assassination and the Mob's involvement with that treacherous act. Did Trafficante REALLY confess his role in the JFK murder to his lawyer? Deitche suggests so. Or, as the author also hints, was Carlos Marcello, Mafia boss of New Orleans, behind the JFK hit? Marcello controlled Dallas in those days. Perhaps it was that eponymous bunch of "rogue" CIA agents harboring grudges from the Bay of Pigs fiasco? Again, one wishes for more concrete evidence, however fascinating the speculation. The final call on SD makes a 5 star rating impossible. Deitche would have served his readers better had he narrowed the scope of the text rather than covering so many of ST's criminal activities. Also, the typesetting is wearying: Paragraphs need to be better spaced. Physical layout is a problem here and the footnoting is awkward. Do we need 536 of them in a 229 page book? A good stern editor with a sharp blue pencil could have tidied up the text, but those guys were laid off years ago! That kvetching aside, SD remains an entertaining 4 star story. This is only a first edition; perhaps future printings can address the housekeeping issues. That might nudge "Silent Don" up into the 5 star category.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I grew up in Tampa, and knew the Don. In fact, I was in Cuba on a "vacation" 5 days before Castro entered Havana. Santo was very kind to my little group when we dined at the Tropicana during this visit.

It was interesting to read this well researched book even though it was a bit sloppy in places.
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Format: Hardcover
certainly worth reading if you like digging a bit deeper into the Mafia literature. Trafficante usually figures as a minor character in other books, so I was glad to learn more about him. I wouldn't call this a great read, though. There are a number of references to "Mob Lawyer," Selwynn Raab's biography of Ragano, Trafficante's lawyer. Haven't read that yet, but have read Raab's "Five Families," which I can highly recommend as being very well-written & informative.

Most bothersome to me about "Silent Don" was the index - the page references were off on every single entry - and I checked dozens. There was some regularity to the discrepancy, but it was a real pain to work around.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There is something fascinating reading about mafia dons and their soldiers and associates. The crimes they commit are despicable and their character is usually missing altogether, unless you count there honor and loyalty amongst thieves. But they live by the seat of their pants and the police and FBI are usually close behind, dogging their every move, waiting for a mistake. That is what makes them so interesting to read about. Yet in The Silent Don we see another side of a mafia don, that of one who somehow escaped the FBI and police's interest for so long that he thought to be a minor player in the whole scheme of things.

This is where The Silent Don shines, where it begins to show Trafficante as more of a worldly player. Admittedly it was his casinos in Cuba that gave him his power, that made him respected by the other more established and violent Families around the country, but this was one area that Trafficante excelled past his father, who ultimately set everything up for Jr. to step in and succeed. Trafficante Jr. did so well we don't really know too much about him.

This is part of the reason why this loses a star because it almost feels like it is missing something, or that there isn't enough evidence to support everything that is stated. The bio itself is rather short, since it lacks in source material, which is rather strange for a mafia don who lived for so long and controlled such a large area, not to mention had the influence that he had with other mafia dons. When all is said and done it is a decent biography, one definitely worth reading, and perhaps the best bio out there on a mysterious mafia don.

4 stars.
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