The book under consideration called Bringing Down the Mob: The War against the American Mafia by Thomas Reppetto is a bloody narration about the cruel ascendancy of organized crimes in America. The author’s captivating sequel follows the events during the Prohibition and chaos period. This is also the story of prominent Mafia bosses of the twentieth century where he highlights such important names as Sam Giancana and John Gotti, which were persecuted by the American government. Reppetto’s narration focuses on many facets of the organized crimes united into the mighty force that served as an independent state within the United States. The chapters of the book pursue the decline of the Mafia. The writer gives a realistic picture and bright examples of how the mob affected the culture and legal system. The writer manages to render insight world of the Mafia’s actions thus revealing the most powerful Mafiosi dynasties. A special appraisal deserves Repretto’s representation of some eccentric personages and the most prominent crimes of the twentieth century.
The strength of this book lies in the writer’s realistic approach to drawing on the events taking place in the “underworld.” Reppetto skillfully describes the confrontation between the government and the best-known mobsters of that time beginning from the Apalachin raid up to the arrest of Chicago mobster Toni Spilotro and the imprisonment of New York crime boss John Gotti. The author also succeeds in a veritable representation of the bright crime bosses of the Mafia, such as Frank Costello and Pual Cuasteliano. Finally, Reppetto’s crime chronicle impresses by its unreserved truth and honest vision of the current crime system. I also liked the writer’s professional vision on the negative outcomes of the mob interventions that especially influenced the young generation. The false glory of the gangsters inspires the young adults; “they hear the tales of glory recounted – who robbed that, who worked over whom, which showgirl shared gangster’s bed, who got hit by whom, the techniques of the rackets and how easy it is all is how money rolls in…” (Reppetto 15).
The only shortcoming that the book possesses is a brief treatment of the effects of the witness defense program that grants the possibilities for the mobsters to break the law. To my mind, it is a gross mistake to the belief that the Mafia is in decline nowadays. It is obvious that there still exist the descendants and the followers of Al Capone, Lucky Luciano, Frank Costello, John Gotti, and Carlo Gambino, that will keep the crime level. This is explained by the fact that this phenomenon perpetuated to the American culture to such an extent so that it would be impossible to eradicate it from the people’s consciousness. In general, I liked Reppetto’s narration style deprived of sensationalism and excessive emotionalism, which is quite up to the point. At the same time, a mere manifestation of accurate facts and real events allowed us to perceive the cruel atmosphere of that period.
On primary reading of the novel, I was especially impressed by brave and appropriate metaphors used by the author thus comparing this discreet war against crime bosses. Hence, the bright heading where Reppetto compares the mobsters with the Devil, hoodlums, and gangsters shows his outright resentment and indignation. The author succeeded in rendering the habits, the behavior, and even the clothing of the mob leaders in the fifties. The captivating details of the arrests of the most influential Mafia’s representatives proved that those mobsters have a strong connection with the government. The fact presented in the book showed the prevailing ascendance of the mob over the official government.
Because the book was dedicated to an incessant military campaign against the mob, I got interested in why this phenomenon gained popularity among a significant part of the American population. Reppetto’s narration about the habits and the established rules of fraternity attracted many young people. No one would reject life full of luxurious dwellings and cars. On the other hand, people blinded by the possibility of easy money did see the corruptness of this system and its overall negative influence on society. The fraternal relations were reduced to organized rules that completely distorted some official laws and exaggerated the importance of honor and respect (Reppetto 16).
Reppetto’d rational representations of the Mafia coincide with my vision of Mafia and its traditions. The strict rules and close family ties are too dangerous. The writer represents the refined cruelty and cold-bloodiness of the crime bosses. I noticed that mostly all the dynasties have stereotyped leaders that have no mercy to other people except their own “family.” When talking about the organized crimes, the association that occurs is Cosa Nostra and Frank Costello. Costello’s character reveals an excessive superiority and snobbism as his affiliation to the elite class empowers him with certain exceptional privileges. What is strange is that those cult figures become a part of American history but not those police officers that tried to face this corrupted world.
Currently, the world of the Old Mafia is at issue now, as there is still some ambiguity about the existence of organized crime. The police were tireless in the pursuit of the so-called Godfathers. Therefore, my favorite chapter is the last one called Top Hoodlums where the writer reveals the past events of the Mafia’s operations and the greatest crime bosses acted in the shadows. Here, Reppetto shows that fearlessness in front of the law is impossible to eliminate nowadays, there still exist the emulators of the Gambino and Luciano families who were tempted by the sweetness of power. Reppetto also portrayed the images of the most influential figures of the 1960-the 1970s where the crime bosses explicitly ignored the government and FBI. The United States occurred in the period when underworld all the governmental operations. This chapter also attracts by a precise portrayal of the Mafia image and its merciless rules. Those images shows are not created in vain. Reppetto tries to show that the Mafia bosses have no good privileges, as their power is based on killing and slandering.
The book is an effective and realistic guideline to the inside of the Mafia for the legal organs to be more aware of the actual state of the criminal level. It is also a detailed introduction to the history of organized crime in the twentieth century, to the time of the mob domination over the legitimate structures. In that respect, I recommend the book for the young people to understand the cruelty and murders of innocent people are masks by the luxury and sweetness of power. This book could also serve as a historic reference, as Reppetto is the direct witness of those notorious events.
Reppetto, Thomas, Brining Down the Mob: The War Against the American Mafia. US: Holt Paperbacks, 2007.