Reputed top Mafioso John Gotti, 49, has been dubbed ""The Dapper Don"" and ""The Real Godfather"" by the media; but in this hard-digging and hard-hitting biography, former Newsday reporters Cummings and Volkman (The Heist, 1986) strip away ""Johnny Boy"" 's finery to reveal the snarling street-thug beneath, far more Bluto than Corleone. Anger welded to overweening ambition is the key, the authors demonstrate, to Gotti's meteroic rise from, allegedly, Brooklyn bone-breaker to head of the Gambino Family, the nation's largest and richest Mafia group, with 250 ""made"" members and an income in the hundreds of millions. The mobster's rage arose, Cummings and Volkman argue, from the dire and humiliating poverty of his boyhood--a boyhood well situated here against the colorful background of post-WW II Italian-American Gotham culture, where an intelligent (IQ of 150+) boy like Gotti could see that the men with the money, beautiful women, limos, and respect didn't work 9-5. What they did do he found out by hanging around ""social clubs"" and doing odd jobs that apparently curdled into strong-arm work and then contract killings, thus collecting a blood-soaked vita that soon seemed to rival the most vile of his Cosa Nostra predecessors--legendary miscreants limned through the authors' interwoven and colorful history of the Mafia, from Sicilian shadow government through the heydays of Albert Anastasia's Murder, Inc., and Lucky Luciano and up to the present. The authors see Gotti as a paradigm of a new breed of mobster, a a Hyde-like yuppie, but one with bleak prospects: with most of his gang (or goombata) in jail, including brother Gene, and himself now on trial for allegedly ordering the shooting of a union official, Gotti, the authors conclude, has barred windows in his future. First-rate, compelling reportage on a mutant Horatio Alger and the brutal underworld he now bestrides.