The man who went undercover as Donnie Brasco acts as tour guide to the downfall of the New York Mafia: a long-coming event he was instrumental in bringing about.
To hear former FBI agent Pistone (Donnie Brasco, not reviewed) put it, his dangerous, six-year undercover operation in the New York Mob couldn’t have happened before or since. Prior to the early-’70s, the Hooverite agency was still too suspicious of the whole (then-)unconventional idea, and after 1981, when Pistone began delivering reams of damning testimony in one RICO case after another, the fatally wounded families became even more suspicious of outsiders. Still living in an undisclosed location and having knocked out a few crime novels in the past few years—apparently, he left the Feds before getting that pension—Pistone now gives the full scoop on the aftermath of his years undercover, and how the work he began essentially demolished New York’s five families. The going will be a bit rough at first for those unfamiliar with Donnie Brasco; readers may find themselves lost in details (was that the Lucchese or Bonanno family? Is that Sonny Red or Sonny Black?). But Pistone proves to be a smart and pugnacious writer, unafraid to repeat himself where necessary, and none too worried about offending targets of ridicule; the latter category includes clueless FBI supervisors, a Mafia composed of bumbling and sadistic sociopaths and the Godfather-loving clueless who romanticize them. An epilogue lists the Mafiosi Pistone associated with while undercover and who have since been whacked, many because of their association with him—there are 15 names.
A tough and refreshingly unsentimental overview of what is essentially the end of the American Mafia.