Since former crime reporter Sifakis's excellent Mafia Encyclopedia was first published in 1987, mob bosses John Gotti and Vinny "the Chin" Gigante have gone to jail and informer Sammy "the Bull" Gravano has reached the best sellers lists. Such Mafia shakeups have necessitated this extensive revision, which now boasts nearly 450 discerning entries covering the whole mobster universe from "Making Your Bones" to money laundering and the "Buckwheats" (painful murder methods); loansharking and the "Concrete scam"; favorite Mafia social clubs, restaurants, and burial grounds; and even an entry on Midnight Rose's, the Brooklyn candy store where so many of Murder, Inc.'s killings were planned. Sifakis's prose is free of the typical platitudes about "honor" or "blood oaths." He points out that the most important Mafia figure was not Al Capone but Lucky Luciano, who, along with Meyer Lansky, "Americanized" and transformed the Prohibition-era booze rackets into "a national crime syndicate, a network of multi-ethnic gangs...which has bled Americans of incalculable billions over the years." Sifakis relishes the Mafia's vivid folklore without subscribing to it. The infamous score-evening slaughter of 1931 called the "Night of the Sicilian Vespers," in which dozens of Luciano's enemies were said to have been simultaneously eliminated nationwide, turns out to be mythology. And while Chicago and Vegas mobster John Roselli was probably not the JFK hitman (as alleged in Bill Bonanno's Bound by Honor, LJ 3/15/99, his accomplishments did include taking $400,000 from Phil Silvers, Zeppo Marx, and others in a famous rigged card game. For all crime collections.
With nearly 100 pictures and illustrations, Sifakis's mob opus is required reading for Mafia buffs, and a remarkably engaging guide for anyone interested in a factual report on organized crime.
2nd Revised edition edition May 22 2002
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