January 22, 2015
This Week in Gang Land
Junior Don: I Loved My Dad But I Was Wrong To Follow In His Footsteps
What's it like to grow up with an up and coming Mafia boss as your dad? John A. Gotti's book, Shadow Of My Father, has both intriguing revelations and sober reflections on the trials and tribulations of being the son of the swashbuckling Dapper Don. On the revelations side, take this never-before-told tale: While doing time in the 1970s for killing a gangster who was thought to have been part of the kidnap-murder of a nephew of Carlo Gambino, the elder Gotti managed to slip away from a dentist visit to play with the kids in the back yard of their Howard Beach home. Then he slipped away a second time, to whack a second member of the kidnapping plot. Then he quietly returned to prison.
That's one story among many that makes the book a worthy read for Mafia buffs. And they'll enjoy it, too. The book – by the Beach Channel High School dropout who got his diploma from the New York Military Academy at Cornwall-on-Hudson – is well-written. And the author gives insight into what it was like growing up as the son of a wiseguy who graphically insisted that he would deny robbing a church, even if he was caught with "a steeple sticking out of my ass."
There are some sour grapes in Shadow Of My Father, though, and the tome leaves a bit of a bad taste. Junior paints himself as a persecuted FBI victim who fought the good fight at four racketeering trials and won. But he never actually won. In fact, most of his 48 jurors – some 29 of them, by Gang Land's count – voted to convict. His father won three times, but Junior was never acquitted. He may have quit the mob, but it was excellent lawyering that got hung juries at four trials – often despite actions by the erstwhile Junior Don.
John A. Gotti's most ardent and vocal supporter, his outspoken mom, has not read Shadow Of My Father, and isn't sure she ever will. Mrs. Victoria Gotti, who stood up at his last trial and accused Judge P. Kevin Castel of trying to help the government "railroad" her son, told Gang Land that "it might be too painful," for her to revisit and re-live "the government treachery and duplicity" that her son faced through four trials.
Michael Persico, the businessman son of Colombo boss Carmine (Junior) Persico, can't seem to win for losing. Fresh from losing his motion to rescind his sweet plea deal for government misconduct, Persico yesterday renewed his motion to take back his guilty plea. The reason? He says prosecutors violated his plea agreement this week by stating in court papers that they could prove that he was involved in a murder during the bloody 1991-93 Colombo family war.
Unless you get really lucky, and find a copy squirreled away in the wrong section of your local bookstore, you won't be able to get a first printing of Mob Boss: The Life Of Little Al D'Arco, The Man Who Brought Down The Mafia. But there are still plenty of second print versions of the hardcover available as gifts or for your own reading pleasure.
Because of the heavy demand, Thomas Dunne Books went to the well again for a second printing of Mob Boss, the book that The New York Times called a "gripping, novelistic biography – a bulls-eye."
The mass market, paperback version is due out in March, but you can still pick up a copy of the hard cover at your favorite bookstore, or, as Claude Raines might say to Humphrey Bogart, from any number of the usual online suspects: Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and BooksAMillion, as well as an independent book seller near you.
See why Mob Boss has been praised by Pete Hamill, Jimmy Breslin, Nicholas Pileggi, Mister District Attorney Robert Morgenthau – as well as readers everywhere.
Mob Boss is also available in a special BIG PRINT edition. And for those who would rather hear every word of the 406 page book read to them, Mob Boss is also available on an MP3 CD from Tantor Audio.