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Five Families


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About the Author

Selwyn Raab was an investigative reporter for The New York Times, covering organized crime and criminal justice matters for twenty-five years. He is also the author of Justice in the Back Room and Mob Lawyer. He lives in New York.


Having covered the mob for decades-and written Justice in the Back Room, which inspired TV's Kojak-veteran New York Times reporter Raab should make this history of the Genovese, Gambino, Bonnano, Colombo, and Lucchese clans vivid reading. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Former New York Times crime reporter Raab sets a new gold standard for organized crime nonfiction with his outstanding history of the Mafia in New York City. Combining the diligent research and analysis of a historian with the savvy of a beat journalist who has extensive inside sources, the author succeeds at an ambitious task by rendering the byzantine history of New York's five families-Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese and Lucchese-easily comprehensible to any lay reader. Of necessity, Raab also illuminates the Mafia's origin in 19th-century Sicily and its transition to this country. Throughout his survey of the mob's evolution-from simple protection rackets to pump-and-dump stock schemes-Raab renders the mobsters (including men less well known than John Gotti, but no less significant) as three-dimensional figures, without glossing over their vicious crimes and their impact on honest citizens. Law enforcement's varying responses as well as society's view of gangsters enrich the narrative, which merits comparison with the classic true-crime writing of Kurt Eichenwald. While Raab surprisingly gives short shrift to the 1980s pizza connection case, which revealed the growing influence of the Sicilian Mafia on America's heroin trade, he otherwise demonstrates mastery of his subject. This masterpiece stands an excellent chance of becoming a bestseller with crossover appeal beyond devoted watchers of The Sopranos. 24 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

"Five Families is the finest Mafia history we're likely to see for a good long time." --Bryan Burrough, The New York Times Book Review"Raab . . . exudes the authority of a writer who has lived and breathed his subject." --The Boston Globe"Raab sets a new gold standard for organized crime nonfiction with his outstanding history." --Publishers Weekly (starred review)"Riveting history." --People"...enlightening chronicle of the rise of the five Mafia families..." --Entertainment Weekly"Raab's meticulouly researched history is an engrossing initiation." --The Baltimore Sun "A classic piece of reporting by a man who knows the bloody, brutal, corrupt territory." --Mike Wallace, 60 Minutes"[Raab's] sprawling history offers sufficient anecdotes to fuel a half-dozen "Godfather" sequals and keep "The Sopranos" well stocked with mayhem for another decade." --Kirkus Reviews"So well written and encompassing." --Detroit Free Press"In this definitive account of the royal families of mobdom, Selwyn Raab not only tells us where the bodies are buried, he brings them back to life." --Thomas Reppetto, author of American Mafia"After an eight-decade run in which its executives built the most powerful criminal organization in U.S. history, the American Mafia began to unravel at the end of the 20th century. It did so in a convulsion of blood and treachery, fueled by out-of-control egos. Selwyn Raab was there, in the streets, the precinct houses, and the courtrooms to record that story. No one does it better." --Tom Robbins, reporter, Village Voice"In my more than fifty years as a reporter, there is no journalist whom I've respected more than Selwyn Raab at The New York Times in covering New York's criminal justice system. He was tireless and painstaking in investigating the investigators, sometimes helping to prove innocence, but equally fair and conscientious in cases that ended in conviction. His riveting book Five Families will be I'm sure the definitive history of the Mafia in New York for a long time to come. It is a model of what journalism can be." --Nat Hentoff, columnist, Village Voice"A well-researched, well-written historical account of the murderous, double-dealing and often-sophisticated gangsters who shot their way into American folklore and created a criminal empire that has fleeced Americans and confounded law enforcement for more than 100 years. Raab's work surpasses all the rest." --Mafia expert Jerry Capeci; webmaster, GangLandNews.com; author, The Complete Idiot's Guide To The Mafia "While the introduction to Five Families says the Bonnano, Genovese, Luchesse, Colombo, and Gambino families were among the reigning giants of the underworld, what it doesn't say is that the book about them is by one of the reigning giants of journalism, Selwyn Raab." --Don Hewitt, creator of 60 Minutes and author of Tell Me A Story

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