BORN TO THE MOB: The True-Life Story of the Only Man to Work for All Five of New York's Mafia Families

Frankie Saggio, Author, Fred Rosen, Author . Thunder's Mouth $14.95 (211p) ISBN 978-1-56025-559-8

The apparently insatiable public appetite for insider stories from the world of organized crime gives Saggio's dramatized third-person narrative, co-written with true-crime veteran Rosen (Lobster Boy ), a built-in audience, but don't expect another Wiseguy or Donnie Brasco . Saggio, a federally protected witness following his cooperation against his former partners in crime, relates a familiar, clichéd tale without offering much new. While his schemes involved mail fraud scams and stock manipulation rather than violence, more detailed and better-written accounts of mob infiltration of Wall Street have appeared recently (e.g., Gary Weiss's Born to Steal and Salvatore Lauria's The Scorpion and the Frog ). Purple prose ("With a crackle of gears, the bus descended to hell") mingled with blatant errors (the underboss, not the capo, is "one rung below boss"; Rudy Giuliani never prosecuted John Gotti) and "revelations" that are not news (Carmine Galante's assassins have been publicly named before) add up to a disappointing by-the-numbers story. The few touches of humor—Saggio refers to the mob's ruling body, the Commission, as the "Justice League" and compares his life to that of Harry Potter—don't make Saggio, who comes off here as greedy and conscienceless, any more endearing. Readers with a background in law enforcement will dispute Saggio's accusation that FBI undercover agent Joe Pistone was complicit in three murders and that the FBI let those hits go forward. (Mar. 11)

Reviewed on: 02/16/2004
Release date: 05/01/2004
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