An Italian journalist living in Rome, Selvaggi says he got this lively tale of Godfathers-on-the-make from a deported Mafiosi known sometimes as Zio Trestelle. Trestelle's credentials include a slot in Frank Costello's organization, but his testimony often sounds like this: ""I can't tell you who told me but it was somebody right smack in the middle of it all."" New York's crime syndicate begins here in the smelly horse stable owned by a woman--the red-headed, illiterate, strong-as-an-ox Pasquerella, Queen of East 108th Street. Her gang of goons and those of her arch-rival, cafÃ‰ owner Don Giosuele, went on to greater things: Prohibition booze, extortion, numbers, ladies-for-hire, and ""the white stuff."" The resourceful heirs to Pasquerella--Ignazio the Wolf, Joe the Boss, Costello, and Luciano--were aided by Anglo-Saxon discrimination against Italians (what else could a poor boy do to better himself?), the code of omerta, and--Selvaggi can't stress it enough--cops and politicians on the take. But it's Trestelle's stiletto-and-cement recollections of who rubbed out whom that give this story its piquant flavor; like good Italian spaghetti sauce, it masks an otherwise frugal repast.