So immediately upon finishing “Casino”, I wanted more mob so I started in on this book immediately. It was very different from what I was expecting but it was refreshing in a wholly different way.
Joseph Bonnano, Bill’s father, was one of the original men who set up the Commission which, for want of a better description, is the oversight committee for organized crime in New York City. Bill was brought up in this environment and the book focuses on the early days – as told to Bill by is father – and the mob heyday in the 1960’s that Bill himself participated in as a fully made man.
What makes this book so fascinating and a departure is that Bill goes to great lengths to provide the reader with detailed background as to cosa nostra in Sicily and parts of Italy. He covers its roots, how it worked and what it meant to the community as well as showing the time it was brought to the United States by immigrants.
This part of the book is an amazing history and really brought to life those early days and the political and social unrest that made organized crime and protection possible in Sicily and Italy. Like most migrants, they simply brought those traditions with them and re-created the system with an Americanized twist.
The second half of the book goes into deep detail about how the Commission worked, historical decisions that were made and the players involved. The work of OC and the structure has definitely been perverted by media and writers. Not in a malicious way but in an attempt to explain how this secret society operates.
Many myths are dispelled and I often thought about Tony and the guys from The Sopranos quoting and misappropriating ideas from The Godfather movies and other mob staples that have contributed to the myth making. Bonnano sets the record straight and explains that even mob guys, copy from the world of literature and film to add to the mystique.
Finally, and most interestingly, Bonnano describes the ceremonial aspects of cosa nostra. Becoming a “made man”, initiations, meetings and other points of interest. This is the most comprehensive description of these events that I have read. I was hooked with the history but so glad I stayed for the big finale.
For Mob-o-philes, a good pick up!!