An audacious memoir unveiling the machinations of the mob.



A decade of turmoil in the life of a Mafia associate, back when the New York underworld ruled supreme.

Polisi’s brassy guided tour of his time as a member of the Colombo and Gambino crime families is consistently accented by burgeoning “professional” relationships with kingpins like John Gotti, who, when the pair met in 1972, was a swaggering, self-assured “gangster’s gangster” thirsty for action. It was a pivotal year for the New York mob’s five families, as The Godfather launched and the American Mafia ascended in both notoriety and affluence. By his early 20s, the Brooklyn-born Polisi was married and had two sons, as well as a lengthy rap sheet and the moniker of “Crazy Sal.” Early on in the author’s fearless chronicle, the mobster unabashedly concedes to being a “street guy,” as he and young Gambino sidekick Foxy Jerothe became intoxicated by the thrill of robbing banks, orchestrating heists, loan-sharking, dodging bullets and gambling at the Colombo family base camp: the renowned Sinatra Club in Queens. Polisi also inserts frequently dark historical anecdotes and heady personal confessions of his unrepentant philandering on his doting wife Angela and a laundry list of illicit escapades from the ’70s through the mid-’80s. In the evocative final chapters, Polisi details how he eventually flipped and became a protected witness in Gotti’s criminal proceedings, a move that further contributed to the downfall and demise of the mob’s “brotherhood of hoodlums.”

An audacious memoir unveiling the machinations of the mob.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4287-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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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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