Mafia Prince is the story of a man – Phillip Leonetti – who was raised by his uncle as a member of the Philadelphia – New Jersey mafia. Ultimately – after a long period of time – he became dissatisfied with the life, and the way that the Mafia had changed, and turned no his former friends and ‘family’ and became an informant for the FBI.
It is an interesting look inside the world of the Family, La Cosa Nostra, or ‘this thing of ours’, whatever you want to call it. I must admit that for the most part, it felt unvarnished, without the rose-coloured glasses that sometimes pervades memoirs.
I must admit that I felt that it is a little disingenuous for someone to go from – for the first two thirds of book and about 80% of the time span – a rabid mafia killer who murdered people willfully on the say so of his boss, to someone who decided to draw the line when his Uncle ordered the death of one too many of his close friends. As much as he expresses having a problem with what his uncle is doing, for instance, it is only once he is facing serious jail time that he seems to consider turning states evidence.
Whoever and whatever he becomes by the end of the book, Phillip Leonetti was not a nice person. But the book does not necessarily seek to excuse or explain his actions, in the same way that he does not seek to justify his sudden change of heart.
If there is a slight downside to the book, I really didn’t feel as though much of Phillip’s personality, and personal life came through in the book. Yes, there are his mafia friends and frenemies who we are introduced to, but anything that exists outside that world may as well be on another planet.
For example, we don’t really hear much about his son until he is well into his teenage years, and his relationship with his wife only really gains prominence once he is looking for an exit strategy.
Mafia Prince is an interesting read, and will bring the reader into the sad, depressing normality of the world of La Cosa Nostra.