The Mob and The City by C Alexander Hortis

I have read quite a few books about La Cosa Nostra recently – in fact I am reading another one at the moment – and I was interested in learning more about how the Mafia manages to wangle its way into the levels of control that it has, or has had in the past. With a subtitle like “The Secret History of How the Mafia Captured New York” I was imagining that this book would cover some of that territory.

This book is not a bad book – for what it does, and what it covers, it is very well-researched – but for me at least, it did not shed any real new light on the subject. I would say that it serves as a primer, or a history of the rise of some of the biggest Mafia families in New York, and around the country, but as to the how, rather than the what, I really felt let down.

I think much of the public’s perception of the Mafia is based on what we have seen on our film and television screens, and the author often draws comparisons between the reality, and the ‘reality’ portrayed in movies – most commonly the Godfather trilogy. Where I think the book falls down is in that it doesn’t really do what it says on the tin, so to speak. Yes, it might be a history of the Mob in New York… and other places… but – in the words of Austin Powers – What does it all mean Basil?

I felt none the wiser on that score having read it, and felt like it fizzled out in the end.

3 stars

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