THE GOOD GUYS by Jules Bonavolonta


How We Turned the FBI 'Round--and Finally Broke the Mob
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 Yet another first-person account by an FBI agent whose efforts brought the Mafia to its knees. Despite the input of former Miami Herald reporter Duffy (Head Count, 1991, etc.), this is written as if transcribed from tapes: ``Anyway, somewhere along the line'' or ``Another thing, as I mentioned . . . .'' Bonavolonta, who became a special agent in 1968 after a stint in Vietnam, makes it clear that he's not the typical, straitlaced G-man. Raised in Newark, he recalls mafiosi trying to muscle his father, a humble tailor. Getting the mob became his raison d'àtre; when he was transferred to New York in 1970, he was thrilled to be assigned to the Organized Crime Division. But just like in Vietnam, he had to battle ``the pencil-necked geeks'' to get his job done. ``The FBI,'' he writes, ``in its incomparable brilliance, had established a stupid-assed, monkey-minded bureaucracy.'' As he moved up in the chain of command, he pushed for undercover, ``long-term, strategic investigations that targeted the top people'' in the Cosa Nostra. His work, that of the renowned agent Joe Pistone, a.k.a. Donnie Brasco, and others would be influential in indicting members of the Five Families of New York. Bonavolonta's ``strategic plan'' would eventually involve 350 FBI agents and more than 100 NYPD officers and detectives. His team's work was instrumental in bringing down the Teflon Don, John Gotti, in 1990. That series of events is of interest because of the behind-the-scenes look at an FBI operation. But Bonavolonta's narrative is so laden with tough-guy talk and with superfluous expletives (``I kept on him like stink on shit''; ``These assholes had to go, I thought'') that it detracts from this occasionally interesting story and makes it difficult to tell the wise guys from . . . the wise guys. The fastidious, image-conscious J. Edgar Hoover is rolling over in his grave.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-684-81015-8
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1995


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