The Gypsies have apparently succeeded in keeping their secrets where the Italians and cops have failed--the author of Serpico and The Valachi Papers manages to disclose surprisingly little on this oldest of outlaw tribes. The Gypsies are amazingly elusive; they read only enough to recognize their names in headlines, and hence have no written history as a people (an attempt is currently being made to create an alphabet for Romany--the Gypsy language). The ""king"" (of one of the four--or is it six?) Gypsy tribes refers to Steve Tene (grandson of the former king, Tene Bimbo), a reluctant monarch if there ever was one; for good reason, for a number of his Gypsy relations, including his father, have sworn (and tried) to kill him. One of the reasons for Steve's immense unpopularity is his abandonment of the Gypsy way of life--and he urges others to follow him. Although it seems unlikely that he will succeed where 1200 years of persecution and extermination have failed, one can only hope he does: in unliberated Gypsy society where arranged marriages under the threat of physical duress are the rule, women seem little more than slaves who do the housework and wage-earning (usually by practicing boojo--fortune-telling swindles) while the macho men engage in endless, bloody feuds. What the average reader will probably care most about (and what the author touches on only cursorily) is the daily life of these dark, mysterious people who casually evade the census-taker and the law-maker. A disappointing book on a furtive, violent, but fascinating people.