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Maas (The Valachi Papers, LJ 6/1/69) and Sammy "The Bull" Gravano team up to write a somewhat informative book on the Cosa Nostra of New York from the 1970s through the early 1990s. Maas narrates Gravano's life story while quoting directly from his subject. One early quote sets the book's premise when Sammy says, "I wouldn't have minded going to Vietnam. You got medals for killing people there." Through the many descriptions of Sammy's involvement in the Mafia as a hitman and leading up to his appointment as underboss to John Gotti of the Gambino crime family, the reader gets a real sense of a street thug. We learn that Gotti and Gravano masterminded and carried out the murder of Paul Castellano, then boss of the crime family, outside of Sparks Steak House in New York City. Eventually, after both were indicted on murder and racketeering charges, Sammy opted to "rat" on Gotti and served only five years. As a depiction of life in the Cosa Nostra from a man who brought down perhaps the most famous mob figure since Al Capone, this book is recommended for libraries looking to expand their organized crime collections. [This book, which was embargoed until publication, has provoked a lawsuit by relatives of Gravano's victims under the Son of Sam law, though HarperCollins has denied that Gravano was paid for his contributions.‘Ed.]‘Brent Newmoyer, "Library Journal"
""Underboss" is fascinating for its anthropologically detailed portrait of a subculture some of us can't get enough of." -- "Time""Brilliantly constructed and grimly fascinating...The result is a terrific and important book...It's important because it is a morality play on the subject of loyalty. To whom are you loyal, and from who should you be able to expect loyalty?" -- "New York Times Book Review""An absorbing, intimate, alluring tale of power, greed, and Mob intrigue." -- "People""A riveting job of detailing real Mafia life...It's quick, exciting reading and Maas deserves full marks for generally keeping the sharks of the mob from looking like dolphins. There's no chrome in the jalopy of Gravano's life." -- "Detroit Press""Breathtaking...Supremely stylish." -- "New York" magazine