cover image Mafia Dynasty: The Rise and Fall of the Gambino Crime Family

Mafia Dynasty: The Rise and Fall of the Gambino Crime Family

John H. Davis. HarperCollins Publishers, $23 (450pp) ISBN 978-0-06-016357-0

During the 1920s the Gambinos, members of the New York Cosa Nostra ``Five Families,'' which also included the Colombo, Bonanno, Lucchese and Genovese families, controlled many businesses in Gotham. Among their strongholds were private carting, garment industry trucking and construction. The mob also had a powerful pull in the meat and supermarket businesses, along with the customary enterprises of loansharking, extortion and pornography. Additionally, the dons, having forbidden trafficking in drugs to subordinates, could not resist the vast profits and became involved themselves. Mafia founding fathers Vincent and Philip Mangano were succeeded by Albert Anastasia, who was murdered in 1957. The most effective leader, shows Davis, was Carlo Gambino, who emerged supreme in 1970, reigned for 19 years and was succeeded by his cousin Paul Castellano until he was killed at the behest of John Gotti, who was sentenced to life in prison in 1992. Davis ( Mafia Kingfish ) explores the history of the Cosa Nostra from its roots in Italy and brilliantly depicts the violent, vicious, vulgar brotherhood. Photos not seen by PW. (Feb.)