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The top 5 Mafia books of all time

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Now here is a little treat for those hard core nonfiction page-flipping readers.

The L.A. Book Examiner Staff finally snapped. After the late notice received from the Rancho Cucamonga library for unreturned books, something triggered inside the L.A. Book Examiners. The on/off crime switch was flicked to the on position.

Janette Jenkins became a recurrent jay-walker. She deliberately looked for intersections with regulatory signs posted, prohibiting the act, and went for it. No shame in the game. Martin Martinez made a habit of going to local public parks to practice martial arts movements while shirtless (in broad daylight) even though he’s never taken a martial arts class in his life. And Socrates, (oh my God, Socrates) went as low as to begin a cheating career in Scrabble.

Although lawbreakers that they were, the Examiners remained loyal to literature; however, their choice of literature changed as you will attest by the list they created. In their lawbreaking stupor, the L.A. Book Examiners compiled a list of their 5 top favorite Mafiosi auto/biographies. In turn, it’s the list of books no nonfiction page-flipping reader can afford to miss out on.

"I Heard You Paint Houses"

"I Heard You Paint Houses"
"I Heard You Paint Houses"

"I Heard You Paint Houses": Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran and the Inside Story of the Mafia, the Teamsters, and the Last Ride of Jimmy Hoffa by Charles Brandt-This book delivers what it promises to deliver with its name and much more. It will take you through the chain of events that led up to Jimmy Hoffa’s disappearance and through the ones that led up to “Crazy” Joe Gallo’s murder—a powerful member of the Cosa Nostra. “I Heard You Paint Houses” is Frank Sheeran’s account of his life working for the Bufalino crime family and reveals the astonishing connection between the mob and the John F. Kennedy assassination.



Underboss: Sammy “The Bull” Gravano’s Story of Life in the Mafia by Peter Maas-This is Sammy Gravano’s story of how he climbed the ladder that made him John Gotti’s right-hand man. From a street thug, Sammy "The Bull" became the second most powerful man in the Gambino crime family, one of the 5 families that controlled organized crime in New York. “Underboss” tells of the machinations behind and walks the reader through Paul Castellano’s murder, which in turn made John Gotti the new boss and Sammy the underboss. It is the authorized account of the rise and fall of the Gambino Family Empire under the John “The Dapper Don” Gotti and theSammy "The Bull" Gravano era.

The Black Hand

The Black Hand
The Black Hand

The Black Hand: The Bloody Rise and Redemption of Rene “Boxer” Enriquez by Chris Blatchford-Within the California Department of Corrections’ system lurks an entity that controls the criminal activities that take place in the streets of Southern California. And through the muscle of the Hispanic gangs in Southern California, this entity, known as the Mexican Mafia, enforces its rules. “The Black Hand” is the story of Rene Enriquez, a Mexican Mafia member and its involvement in many crimes, including the Maxson Road Murders—a misdeed so heinous, it shocked the nation—and the aftermath of blood it left behind. It tells of the grasp the Mexican Mafia holds in the California prison system and its refusal to let go.



Hitman: The Untold Story of Johnny Martorano—Whitey Bulger’s Partner and the Most Feared Gangster in the Underworld by Howie Carr-The untold story of Johnny Martorano as told by Howie Carr is a phenomenal account of the Irish mob and the Irish street gang struggles for control of the Boston, Massachusetts underworld. It gives the reader a broader perspective of the Winter Hills Gang and its bizarre relations with the FBI through Whitey Bulger, Stephen Flemmi and the corrupted FBI agent, John J. Conolly, also known as Zip. “Hitman” is not only Johnny Martorano’s story but his confession and his attempt at redemption.



Wiseguy: Life in a Mafia Family by Nicholas Pileggi-Hollywood called it “The Goodfellas” but Nicholas Pileggi called it as it was. This is the true story of Henry Hill and his involvement with the Lucchese crime family at an early age, the Air France Robbery at the John F. Kennedy Airport and the biggest heist in history: the Lufthansa Heist.

After a troublesome 2 days of lawbreaking, I am pleased to say that the L.A. Books Examiner staff is back on track. Jay-walking Janette is back to crossing the street where designated to do. Martial arts Martin is no longer defiling the local parks with his silly poses and keeps his shirt on.  Scrabble-cheating Socrates has given up Scrabble altogether. And the library books have been returned.

Although crime has ended within the L.A. Book Examiner staff (or should we more appropriately call it: The Family), we, optimistic that we are, can transform a bad experience into a fruitful one. Let us trust their taste in literature and take into account their top 5 Mafia books list.

And for the love of God, stay away from crime because crime doesn't pay.


J.Marquez Jr.

December 8, 2013


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