Readers going through the illness and passing of a parent, to say nothing of true-crime buffs, will find much of value.



A moving memoir of the passage through life of a father and son, each facing tremendous difficulties.

The title is hyperbolic, perhaps, but LaRossa Jr. makes a good case for the gladiatorial nature of the courtroom. His father, known as Jimmy LaRossa (1931-2014), was a criminal defense attorney who took on cases for “the most feared Mafia chiefs, assassins, counterfeiters, Orthodox Jewish money launderers, defrocked politicians of every stripe, and Arab bankers arriving in the dead of night in their private jets.” By his son’s reckoning, over a long career, Jimmy argued at nearly 1,000 jury trials and won 80% of them. He adds, “did Jimmy know where the bodies were buried? Yes, he did.” The author, who became a journalist and publisher, writes admiringly of the fact that his father, the scourge of the FBI and despiser of stool pigeons, stayed alive for all those years of engagement with mob bosses and henchmen with names like “The German” and “Wild Bill,” foot soldiers for the Colombo and Gambino families. One case found him disqualifying evidence provided by a member of a rival gang, who, Jimmy argued, “had committed murders while on the FBI’s payroll.” Eventually, however, Jimmy fell victim to pulmonary disease, prompting his son to move his father from New York to California, where Jimmy spent the last few years of his life. The author, for his part, has suffered through long bouts of mental illness, self-medicating with alcohol while diligently seeking appropriate and effective treatment. He credits taking care of his father in his last years as a lifesaver: “Until he allowed me to take charge of his life, I was as lost as a man can be.” Though the writing is sometimes clichéd—“My father was my true north, so I bought into his exuberance lock, stock, and barrel. My three siblings…had other fish to fry”—the story is affecting.

Readers going through the illness and passing of a parent, to say nothing of true-crime buffs, will find much of value.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61088-239-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Bancroft Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 23, 2019

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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