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Paperback Underboss : Sammy the Bull Gravano's Story of Life in the Mafia Book

ISBN: 0060930969

ISBN13: 9780060930967

Underboss : Sammy the Bull Gravano's Story of Life in the Mafia

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Book Overview

In March of 1992, the highest-ranking member of the Mafia in America ever to defect broke his blood oath of silence and testified against his boss, John Gotti. He is Salvatore (Sammy the Bull) Gravano, second-in-command of the Gambino organized-crime family, the most powerful in the nation. Today, Gotti is serving life in prison without parole. And as a direct consequence of Gravano's testimony, Cosa Nostra - the Mafia's true name - is in shambles...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

If you loved "GoodFellas"...

Many reviewers have compared this work to Nicholas Pileggi's fine book "Wiseguy" (which was the basis for the movie "GoodFellas"). And rightfully so. "Wiseguy" concerned real life crime figure Henry Hill and how he eventually turned government informant against the mob. "Underboss" likewise tells the tale of a mobster turned informant, except this time the stool pigeon, Sammy Gravano, is a capo (and later a consigliere) in the Gambino crime family, and the mafioso he fingers is none other than John Gotti himself. As you might expect, "Underboss" is a fascinating read. (Author Peter Maas previously wrote the books "Serpico" and "The Valachi Papers", among others, so he knows how to tell a good crime story). Gravano does not portray himself as a saint. He candidly reveals in horrifying (though not gory) detail crimes he committed in the mob, including some nineteen murders and literally hundreds of burglaries, armed robberies, and kickback/extortion plots. All the major New York crime bosses of the time (Carlo Gambino, Joe Columbo, Paul Castellano, Vincent Gigante, and of course Gotti) figure in the proceedings, as Gavano had dealings with them and others, as well.Unlike some true crime books where you end up skipping chapters to get to the "good stuff", this book was gripping every step of the way. So much so that I ended reading it cover to cover, all 301 pages, in less than a week. If you're looking for a good insider's book on the Mafia, this is it.

What Sammy sez is no bull

"Underboss" takes its place along with Nicholas Pillegi's "Wiseguy" and Joseph D. Pistone's "Donnie Brasco" as one of the best insider accounts of life in the mafia ever published. Unlike those other two books, however, "Underboss" presents the life from the perspective of a mafia leader, in this case the notorious Sammy "the Bull" Gravano, who was the number two to the reprehensible John Gotti in the Gambino crime family. Sure, Sammy's the rat who brought Gotti down, but to hear him tell the tale, he only did so because Gotti insulted Gravano's notions of "honor among thieves." As a reader, one should keep in mind that this account is solely Sammy's version of events. Nevertheless, as told by the masterful Peter Maas, his is one trully fascinating story indeed.

An Honourable Rat?

Peter Maas does an excellent job of intertwining Salvatore Gravano's dialogue with his own informative writing. Every chapter is compelling; the story tells like a "Goodfellas" tale from the eyes of a made guy (Henry Hill was never, and could never be made, since his father was Irish). "The Bull" makes clear his attraction of "The Life" was the honour, living and dying by the codes of Omerta and yet he broke a large number of these very codes. Most were quite understandable, but the major and most interesting defection perhaps is harder to understand. Thus newspapers at the time reported on how sad it was that Sammy had turned rat. Sammy explains the situations leading to his "change of governments" but does not explain specifically, in his own words, why he did this or what was going through his mind at the time. This, I would have liked to have read more about. Gravano's tales seem mostly believable and are often enforced by Maas explaining the facts. Gravano does not hesitate in passing on his shortcomings, even situations which could be of embarrassment to him. However, I'm sure much of "The Bull's" supposed dialogue has been reworded by Maas to make the story flow in such a compelling manner. This does not make his accounts any less authenticate. On the whole, a brilliant piece of work my Maas with Salvatore Gravano being infinitely more truthfully than I first expected. This is a truly compelling story of a gangster rising through the ranks of the Gambino Family. If you enjoyed the Goodfellas movie, you'll love every page of this. Add it to your shopping basket now!

I could not put it down!

I thouroughly enjoyed reading this book. I have never really been interested in mob books, but this book made me feel like I was right there experiencing these things right along with Sammy Gravano. The book was very well written, and the pictures were chilling. I had difficulty putting the book away until I was finished with it.

A Captivating Read

While I can't say that I admire Sammy Gravano -- his behavior for most of his life was reprehensible, -- I have to give him credit for calling a spade a spade. In this captivating true life story, Gravano describes his growing up as a tough kid and becoming a "made man" over time, only to go on to becoming "Underboss" of the Gambino Crime Family with John Gotti.Sammy tells his story with a thoroughness that seems to indicate he finally wants to come clean. Certainly turning "state's evidence" against Gotti and many other significant underworld crime figures was a matter of self preservation (likely literally his life), yet Gravano presents himself as a person with a strong degree of loyalty and honor -- despite the horror of "the life" and his part in it. John Gotti certainly doesn't come across very well in this account of how Gotti Became Godfather. Basically, a low-life, who's likely chances of becoming the Boss were slim to none, he kills his way to the top and proves himself to be an egotistical low class bum who actually believe's he's untouchable and attractive to 'his public'. An absolutely disgusting human being who belongs where he is -- in jail for life with no chance for parole. His prodigy has ended up in the same situation and his stupidity was so ridiculously blatant that it bordered on 'the gang that couldn't shoot straight.' May they enjoy their life 'on vacation!'Gravano served time so his helping as state's witness didn't wipe away everything, yet he makes a tremendous sacrifice in going in this direction -- including the loss of his wife and children. In the long run, perhaps there is a thread of hope and redemption in Gravano's decision; hopefully, he's living a decent life totally different than his past.An excellent narrative of the last two decades of New York's Organized Crime Families.Peter Maas does an excellent job of weaving the story together. As a result, it's a fast and fascinating read.Good luck Gravano -- where-ever you are!
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