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The First Family: Terror, Extortion, Revenge, Murder, and the Birth of the American Mafia

The First Family: Terror, Extortion, Revenge, Murder, and the Birth of the American Mafia

Written by Mike Dash

Narrated by Lloyd James


The First Family: Terror, Extortion, Revenge, Murder, and the Birth of the American Mafia

Written by Mike Dash

Narrated by Lloyd James

ratings:
4.5/5 (8 ratings)
Length:
13 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Sep 21, 2009
ISBN:
9781400183647
Format:
Audiobook

Description

Before the Five Families who so notoriously dominated U.S. organized crime for a bloody half-century, there was the one-fingered, surpassingly cunning Giuseppe Morello and his murderous coterie of brothers. Born into a life of poverty in rural Sicily, Morello became an American nightmare, pioneering the bizarre initiation rituals, imaginative protection rackets, influential underworld reigns, and Mafia wars later popularized by countless books, television shows, and movies.



In The First Family, Mike Dash tells the little known story of the Morello family. He follows the birth of the Mafia in America from the 1890s to the 1920s, from the wharves of New Orleans-where Morello himself disembarked in the United States-to the streets of Little Italy. Using previously untapped secret service archives, prison records, and interviews with surviving family members, Dash brings to life the remarkable villains and unusual heroes of the Mafia's early years, from the colorful members of the Morello family to Joseph Petrosino, an Italian cop with a thick Naples accent, and William Flynn, a dogged U.S. Secret Service agent, who banded together to bring down Morello.



More than just a pulse-quickening Mafia narrative, The First Family is the first authoritative account of a particularly crucial period in American history, in which the modern American underworld was born.
Publisher:
Released:
Sep 21, 2009
ISBN:
9781400183647
Format:
Audiobook

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4.3
8 ratings / 6 Reviews
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  • (5/5)
    The First Family: Terror, Extortion, Revenge, Murder, and the Birth of the American Mafia by Mike Dash is a very interesting and sometimes gruesome book but it is also packed full of history. This gives history of the Sicilian life and how and why they moved to America and who and how the American Mafia started here. It also gives great history of early American history of that time. Very, very interesting if you are a history buff like me. This gives great history on not only crime but life in general, poverty, secret service, and more. I really got a lot out of this detailed book.
  • (5/5)
    This is such a well researched book, hats off to Mike Dash.Reading this book makes you feel like your back in Little Italy 1910s A horrible squalid, smelly over crowded crime infested part of Manhattan. The main character is One fingered Giuseppe Morello the head of the first Sicilian mafia based in New York. Lots of photos ,family tree and a who's who of the main characters. Crime doesn't always pay.
  • (3/5)
    Just didn't hold me. Interesting book, at least the early history, and then got way to complicated to follow... and I just wasn't that in to trying. But overall pretty good.
  • (5/5)
    Awesome. I could not put this one down. Dash does an excellent job of bringing back to life "The Clutch Hand". Many of us are familiar with names like Lucky Luciano,Al Capone, Dutch Schultz but we know little of Ciro Terranova, Lupo the Wolf, and other heavyweights of their generation and this book shines a light on these largely forgotten mobsters.The book not only sheds light on Giuseppe Morello, but also gives a thorough background on the foundation of the "Mafia" and how and where it spread in America,mostly New York and New Orleans.Dash also paints a vivid picture of turn of the century New York.Anyone looking for a great read on organized crime, especially a topic that has not been overexposed check out "The First Family".I have Satan's Circus by Mike Dash and can't wait to get to it.
  • (4/5)
    This book was eye opening. It traces the Mafia in the 1890's US to the 1940's. It starts in Italy (Sicily to be exact) tracing the roots of an organization fostered by non resident (and non representative) government, ineffective (and often corrupt) local law enforcement as the factors most prevalent to giving this outlaw family it's foothold. When some of these early criminals could no longer function under the radar of notice in Italy, many sought refuge in the United States, immigrating mostly to limited ethnic ghettos first around New York City. This was just the beginning. Again law enforcement was not adequately prepared to deal with the criminal element in communities where they did not speak the language, had severely limited resources (manpower and money), but especially dealing with people who were used to treating police with grave suspicion if not outright hostility. These criminals knew how to play these advantages to their utmost advantage. Extortion, kidnapping, gambling, liquor, and counterfeiting were rampant. Given victims distrust of authorities most of these crimes went unreported, victims thinking that it was better to just allow these to go on than try and deal with an ineffective police system. Criminals knowing their advantage did not hesitate to use violence to maintain control. Threats, intimidation, physical beatings and even graphic murder were common.Giuseppe Morello aka Clutch Hand due to a physical deformity became the leader of this 'first family' of crime Mafia style. The development of 'the family' its recruitment, initiation, discipline and spread along the eastern seaboard but ultimately most of the urban US becomes inevitable. The authorities (police and FBI) tried to slow this menace and combat its continued existence but were predictably ineffective. It took the extreme courage and dedication of several individuals to stem the tide. Mike Dash delivers a complex and exhaustively researched and documented view of the early development of the notoriously secretive Mafia. It's truly an unforgettable experience.
  • (4/5)
    While writing The First Family it seems as if author Mike Dash didn’t include even the tiniest detail without sourcing and noting the inclusion. He takes the American mafia as far back as he can trace it, and then slowly through massive amounts of research from historical sources (police files, court records, genealogy trees, etc…) he gives us every piece of information surrounding the original gangsters. Most of his information is being presented for the first time, and with lots of vivid contextual details which prove fascinating. Amongst many reviewers Dash is credited for not caving to sensationalism. It must have been hard to avoid over dramatizing the material. Instead he uses a fairly straightforward journalistic approach while doling out the minutiae on murders, vendettas, and crime. But as a reader, though informative, I found the bulk of the story telling to be dry and academic. I am not sure if that is a bad or good quality given the subject matter. It is definitely a surprising switch from the genre. But amidst all the dates, facts and mafia theory, at times I did find my attention waning. And still, it is a must for all Mafia enthusiasts--no decent crime bookshelf would be complete without it.