THE GODSON by Willie Fopiano


My Life in the Mafia
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 Gritty memoir by a former Boston gangster, written with the help of New York Post crime reporter Harney. Fopiano begins with a bang, describing a recurrent dream of being shot in the head (``I collapse and roll into the wet gutter, bleeding and helpless''). The dream comes true in 1975, ending his underworld career--but not his life (he now lives in Las Vegas, a born-again Catholic, ``keeping out of trouble, and not doing too bad at all''). Time was when all he did was bad. Fopiano started out as a street punk in Boston's Italian North End, selling bootlegged cigarettes and pulling petty burglaries. The thefts escalated to shopping centers, banks, cargo trucks, armored cars; once, hiding out after a heist worth $740,000, he passed the time by playing Monopoly with real money. Fueling these crimes was a violent streak that culminated in ``wild, murderous rages''--but Fopiano's violence was part-and-parcel of the Boston mob scene, where a bloody turf-war littered the city with scores of bodies. Often the killer was free-lance executioner Joe ``the Animal'' Barboza (``he operated with a speed and precision that was almost mechanical''), one of the many mobsters whom Fopiano describes in gruesome detail. Others included Meyer Lansky, for whom the author worked as a courier; accused Boston Strangler Albert da Salvo (innocent, says Fopiano, who fingers another mobster as the real serial killer); Tony Pino, mastermind of the 1950 Brinks Robbery; and Johnny Rosselli, the suave Hollywood mobster who, before being bumped off, passed on to Fopiano the alleged secret of the Kennedy assassination (that the Mob threw the 1960 election to Kennedy by rigging the Illinois vote; when Kennedy responded with an anti- Mafia campaign, the Mob hit back with the help of Fidel Castro). Fast action in a moral vacuum: frightening and compelling. (Photos--not seen)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-312-09748-4
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1993