Author Topic: book reviews  (Read 1695 times)

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clevelandbrowns01

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Re: book reviews
« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2019, 03:00:56 AM »
I've read lots of organized crime books and am going to do a few reviews by genre as many of these books kind of overlap.  There are areas that I haven't read much about so hopefully you can find something of interest.  Many of these books were published long ago and would be available at used book stores and major libraries.  Inter library loan is a great thing too!  Let's start with some books that detail the Bonanno Family (one of NY's Five Families) in the 1960's primarily. An internal war (Banana War) was taking place within the Bonanno family and patriarch Joe Bonanno famously disappeared for a few months. These books all discuss that era from different perspectives.

Sam the Plumber by Henry Zeiger  published  1970   Incredibly confusing.  It's essentially just the "highlights" of the FBI recordings of New Jersey mob boss Sam DeCavalcante transcribed. His office was bugged for a couple years and that's all it is. DeCavalcante was involved in some of the Commission (sort of a Mafia Board of Directors)  negotiations about the Banana War.  Thus, there's alot about the kidnapping etc.  It also touches on DeCavalcante's low level gambling, loansharking, numbers, and contracting rackets.  The author doesn't interject with much information to tell us background. No index or even a list of main persons included at all is terrible for a book like this.  Sadly, I've read the book a few times trying to figure stuff out. I will concede there are a few amusing quotes from DeCavalcante and others.    1 star


Honor Thy Father by Gay Talese published 1972   This is one of my favorite mob books. Highly recommended to people that don't want an academic type read. Bill Bonanno was the source for alot of the material. However, Talese doesn't let the Bonanno agenda into the book. Talese puts it together with a nice almost fictional flow.  It'd be nice if there was a bit of sourcing / bibliography.  An appendix of the people would be helpful. The book was reissued a few years ago. Someday I plan to read some of Talese's other work.      4 stars

A Man of Honor - The autobiography of Joseph Bonanno  published 1983   Bonanno actually had his own life story published!  He really admits to no major crimes and denounces narcotics even though some family members were deeply into it.  The book over and over refers to the activities as his tradition.    2 stars

Bound By Honor:  A Mafioso's Story by Bill Bonanno published 2003   Bill Bonanno was Joe's son. This book's all over the place. It starts with a rehashed theory about JFK being killed by the mob and a confession to Bonanno by his friend John Roselli that he was in the culvert at the assassination. Then, it rehashes his father's kidnapping and the internal war.    2 stars
« Last Edit: April 04, 2019, 03:02:34 AM by clevelandbrowns01 »

clevelandbrowns01

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Re: book reviews
« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2019, 02:22:16 AM »
I'm sorry for being so negligent on my book reviews.  I'm afraid that time management is not one of my strengths.
Here's my criteria for my ratings:

5 star -  Must read.  Easy to follow even if complex topic. Well researched / well written. Can't put it down.
4 star -  Good read.   Maybe a few minor discrepancies
3 star -  OK     Could be the fiction type book with the good plot / bad ending. Or maybe just a redo about a topic that   
            already has many books.  So many great ideas for books - but we see new biographies of same people so often
            without a whole lot of new material.
2 star -  Some interesting material but some possible untruths. Could be too long. Not organized well or too complicated.
             Inaccurate research may be apparent.
1 star -  Not worth reading even for those obsessed with the topic.

I'll grade the Bucher book as a 2 star. If I had known anything about the topic before reading - I really would have been frustrated with it.

Worry2much

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Re: book reviews
« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2019, 02:13:18 AM »
I'm reading Robert Jordan's epic fantasy The Wheel of Time series right now. I'm on the fourth book, The Shadow Rising. There are a lot of novel ideas and creatures that I've never seen before. The first three books were page turners. The pace slows down in the fourth, but I've heard it gets good again later in the series so I'm going to stick with it.

When I'm done with The Wheel of Time, I want to read Hell's Princess, The Mystery of Belle Gunness, Butcher of Men, next. I've read some of Harold Schechter's other books (The Devil's Gentleman, The Mad Sculptor). He knows how to tell true crime stories and keep it interesting.


Michael j.

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Re: book reviews
« Reply #2 on: February 21, 2019, 05:18:12 AM »
  Another good naval book is "The Arnheiter Affair" by Neel Sheehan.  It's about a destroyer skipper who was relieved of his command after only 99 days.  He was sort of a combination of Captain Queeg and William Bligh.
Michael J.

clevelandbrowns01

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book reviews
« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2019, 01:54:56 AM »
Hi all,

I just noticed that my inquiry to the reading habits of the ladies had 1475 views.  Therefore, I'm going to post a little review every few days of books I've read. I read about lots of different topics so hopefully people on the message board find something of interest.

BUCHER: MY STORY by Commander Lloyd M. Bucher USN Captain USS PUEBLO with Mark Rascovich   published 1970
This is about a US navy spy ship commander who's ship was captured off the coast of North Korea in Jan 1968. One person on ship died and everyone else was held in North Korea until Christmas 1968. I knew nothing of this incident until seeing something in newspaper and was interested in knowing more.  Of course, all the prisoners had a tough time. Afterwards, some of the underlings that Bucher blames for messing up during the chaotic capture wrote books critical of Bucher apparently. It would have been interesting to know exactly what those other books said.  I couldn't find them without buying them so that remains a mystery to me. The aftermath of Bucher's treatment by the Navy was interesting too.

However, the ship doesn't even leave port for it's mission until about page 125. Thus, the book drags some at the start. While he's laying groundwork that a lot of the preparation caused the bad results, it gets a bit long. The book has way too many acronyms and Navy terms in it.  It has an appendix with most of those but it's still difficult for a person without a military background like me.
« Last Edit: February 21, 2019, 01:59:30 AM by clevelandbrowns01 »