Books about historical events always dazzle and entertain, but many of them often heavily rely on fiction and a story concocted by the author to tell a story much different than the truth. While there’s nothing wrong with reinventing history to add a fun flare and share a great story, in my opinion, the best books about the mafia should show the bloody truth behind these ruthless criminals.
1. Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America’s Most Powerful Mafia Empires by Selwyn Raab
The American Mafia outwitted and outgunned the FBI and local police force for over half a century, leading to damages in many aspects of America’s well-being, and it was all led by New York’s Five Families: Genovese, Gambino, Bonnano, Colombo, and Lucchese. This story explores the rise and fall of the top dons, such as Paul Castellano and John Gotti.
2. Takedown: The Fall of the Last Mafia Empire by Rick Cowan
This bestseller is the true story of a young New York Police detective’s undercover experience that led to one of the biggest mob takedowns in the city’s history. What I love about this book is that it shows readers how the detective had to improvise, work with fewer resources, and deal with inter-departmental politics as well as government corruption.
3. Murder Machine by Gene Mustain and Jerry Capeci
Written by two reporters from the New York Daily News and experts on organized crime, this book follows the rise and fall of boss Roy DeMeo, one of the most feared, brutal, and cold-blooded men regarding organized crime in America’s history. It truly makes The Sopranos look like a child’s show in comparison, displaying a family crew that is thought to be responsible for over 200 murders.
4. Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi
The story that the movie Goodfellas in based on, Wiseguy is a 1986 non-fiction book written by crime reporter Nicholas Pileggi. The story is a journalistic chronicle of the life of Henry Hill, a kid from Brooklyn who grew up to live the life of a gangster.
5. The Good Rat: A True Story by Jimmy Breslin
This story, a Pulitzer Prize winner, follows the life of gangster and marijuana dealer Burton Kaplan. The Good Rat follows Kaplan’s life, as he grew up on the same streets as other big name mob bosses before becoming the star witness in a trial against two New York City detectives indicted for working as hit men in eight executions.
Do you love books about the mob as much as I do? Tell us your favorite mafia-related books in the comments below.
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