Godfather of Night: A Greek Mafia Father, a Drug Runner Son, and an Unexpected Shot at Redemption

Kevin Pappas, Author . Ballantine $25 (272p) ISBN 978-0-345-51223-9

Reformed gangster Pappas offers a potent, fast-paced memoir: “I didn't become a gangster out of greed, money, or to drive fancy cars. I got into it to make a point: To prove my manhood to a father who denied me.” That father was Lukie Pappas, “head of the biggest Greek crime family in the Southeast.” At age 17 the author learned he was Lukie's illegitimate son. He changed his name from Kevin Cunningham to Kevin Lucas Pappas, but still received only a cold denial from Lukie. Angered by the rejection, Pappas began his own criminal life of swindles, drug trafficking, money laundering and racketeering. As “a kingpin in Atlanta,” he found the cocaine competition turning ugly: At age 24, he landed in the violent Atlanta federal prison. While serving two consecutive life sentences, Pappas agreed to an FBI offer: freedom in exchange for infiltrating his father's group as an informant: “I walked out of prison full of anger and animosity toward my so-called father.” Pappas is adapting this high-octane book into a documentary, scheduled for 2010 release. 8 pages of b&w photos. (Aug. 11)

Reviewed on: 05/25/2009
Release date: 08/01/2009
Genre: Nonfiction
Discover what to read next