Veteran New York reporters tell the story of a Mafia kingpin’s rise to power, his decision to leave the mob and his role in testifying against his former partners in crime.
Leading Mafia authority Capeci (Wiseguys Say the Darndest Things: The Quotable Mafia, 2004, etc.) and former New York Daily News reporter Robbins (Investigative Reporting/CUNY School of Journalism) use hours of interviews with Al D’Arco to recount his progression toward becoming the Lucchese crime family’s acting boss in 1990. D’Arco grew up the son of an Italian immigrant in New York’s Little Italy during the 1940s, where the Mafia was like a “forest” surrounding him. With neighbors, friends and family in the “Life,” D’Arco assumed it was just a matter of time before he joined one of New York’s five families. After a short stint in the Army during the Korean War, D’Arco received mentorship from a cousin who was a made member of the Mafia, and he associated with a Lucchese family crew under the leadership of the notorious Paul Vario (featured in the book Wiseguys and the movie Goodfellas). Inheriting his father’s determined work ethic, D’Arco put his energy toward a successful career in the Mafia, including having his oldest son follow in his trade. D’Arco’s labors bore fruit when the Lucchese family’s boss and underboss were forced to go on the lam, making him the organization’s acting boss. As a boss, he attempted to reconcile his sense of honor with the crimes he was pushed to commit. When members of the crime family conspired to kill him, his personal code was tested further with his decision to turn to the FBI and testify against his former associates. While tension grows with D’Arco’s decision to leave the Life, the most interesting portions of the book follow the colorful cast of characters he encountered during his Mafia career.
A raw and fascinating account of one mobster’s daily activities and career.