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1. The Sixteenth Round: From Number
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2. No Lights, No Sirens : The Corruption
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3. Ballad of the Whiskey Robber:
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4. Ponzi's Scheme : The True Story
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5. Pimp: The Story of My Life
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6. Killing Pablo: The Hunt for the
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7. Wiseguy
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8. The Way of the Wiseguy
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9. Hell's Angel: The Life and Times
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10. Catch Me If You Can: The True
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11. Gangsters and Goodfellas: The
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12. My Bloody Life: The Making of
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13. Monster : Autobiography of an
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14. Joey the Hit Man : The Autobiography
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15. Squeaky : The Life & Times
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16. A Pirate of Exquisite Mind: Explorer,
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17. True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea
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18. The Gold Ring : Jim Fisk, Jay
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19. Running Scared: The Life and Treacherous
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20. Once a King, Always a King : The

1. The Sixteenth Round: From Number 1 Contender To #45472
by Rubin Carter
list price: $15.00
our price: $14.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140149295
Catlog: Book (1999-12-01)
Publisher: Penguin Books
Sales Rank: 15651
Average Customer Review: 4.53 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

On May 26, 1967, the spiraling career of Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, then the top contender for the world middleweight boxing crown, came to a shuddering and tragic halt: he and a young fan were found guilty of murder of three white people in a New Jersey bar.The nightmare knew no bounds as Carter traded his superstar status for a prison number and the concrete walls of some of America's most horrific institutions.Originally published as an attempt by Carter to set the record straight and force a new trial, The Sixteenth Round is timeless.It is an eye-opening portrait of growing up black in America, a scathing indictment of the prison system Carter grew up in and out of, and a mesmerizing re-creation of his furious battles in the ring and in the courtroom set against the backdrop of the turbulent sixties.The liveliness of Carter's street language, its power and ironic humor, makes this an eloquent, soul-stirring account of a remarkable life not soon to be forgotten. ... Read more

Reviews (43)

5-0 out of 5 stars What a book
I'm not an avid reader of books. I think that in my life I've read about 6 books from start to finish. This book is one of them. His life is an amazing/tragic yet inspiring one. The feeling I got after reading this book is that it teaches alot about the human sprit and what it can accomplish when you set your mind to it.

His writing style pulls no stops, He's direct and to the point.

The writing style he adopts gives you a real look at the Rubin Carter, in a way the Movie or other books about him can't.

Want to Know the real Rubin Carter! - Read this book

5-0 out of 5 stars Hurricane:A political injustice
I heard of Rubin "Hurricane" Carter from the inspirational film "the hurricane" starring Denzel Washington. After seeing the film I became enthralled in the story of a man framed for murders he did not commit and locked away in a cell for 20 years. I decided to get the autobiography of the hurricane entitled the 16th round. The book starts by exposing the life of a child sentenced to a state home for boys from the brutality of the kids and gaurds to the racism and segregation of the prison system in America. Rubin was in prison for most of his early life filling him with hate and rage from the gaurds and other inmates. So he started boxing. His pure power and skill made him an unstoppable talent. That is until he shared his thoughts on the racist Police forces that patrolled the american ghettoes. From then on the police set out to destroy his life. Rubin was pulled over after the murder of 3 white customers of a patterson bar.After 3 witnesses claimed he wasn't the murderer he was released. Five months later He was about to take on Dick Tiger for the middle weight title.But it was not to be and he was arrested and sentenced to three times life after the admitted liars Bello and Bradley said that he was the murderer. And so Rubin entered the familiar walls of Trenton state prison once again for a crime he did not commit. This story of injustice is exellently written. It is an inspirational book that will fill you with love and compassion for the amazing fighter of battles in the ring and battles of political injustice,Rubin "Hurricane" Carter. By Owen Clark.

4-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and Touching
Obviously no one can write his story better than Rubin himself. This story is both and inspiring story of a man who has never stopped fighting and a terrifying reality check into the American judicial system. This book is filled with an anger that is only kept in check by the author's own love and compassion.

The reader whould of course keep in mind this is an autobiography and therefore is skewed to the writer's point of view and emotional state.

2-0 out of 5 stars The rounds go on and on...
I purchased this book, after viewing the much celebrated movie, "The Hurricane." The book is mediocre. I found it difficult to believe much of the writer's exaggerated boasting regarding his many talents. I had erroneously gathered from the movie, that this was a self-effacing, self-made man, not so. The reader is ever searching for the "real meat" of the story, however, the bulk of the story is about the author as a "ghetto-bad boy." The last few chapters of the book are short and quickly race you through the actual murder and trial. Overall it is not well written and disappointing.

5-0 out of 5 stars A touching story inspires child.
This story reached out and touched the lives of many people. It also made people realize not to be racist. I know that I used to be racist and this turned my life around. The fact that rubin was in jail for a crime he didnt commit just because he wasnt white isnt at all fair. His story inspired me not to be racist and to get others not to hate the non-white. It has touched many lives and i like that. I am one of Rubin's biggest fans. ... Read more

2. No Lights, No Sirens : The Corruption and Redemption of an Inner City Cop
by Robert Cea
list price: $23.95
our price: $16.29
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060587121
Catlog: Book (2005-05-10)
Publisher: William Morrow
Sales Rank: 812
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

No lights, No sirens is the harrowing true story of an officer who, on his way to becoming one of the most highly decorated cops in NYPD history, lost his soul

Robert Cea began his career as an idealistic young man, a gifted lawman who would right wrongs and make the world a better place by putting away the bad guys. But whatever he'd learned at the academy did not prepare him for the streets, the thugs, or the depravity he'd encounter. "I'd sworn that it would never get to me," he writes, "that I'd never turn into the monsters I was chasing. I was wrong." And become a monster he did during his relentless journey into the criminal netherworld.

Brutally authentic, as gritty and graphic as the life itself, Cea's story takes readers into the cruisers and onto the streets to show how the law was -- and continues to be -- routinely bent to stay one step ahead of criminals. Cea painstakingly reveals his slow downward spiral into the depths of hell that would shatter his conscience, his marriage, and his mind. It would all lead to a final attempt at redemption that would nearly cost him his life.

Illuminating a hidden side of law enforcement that cannot be imagined, No Lights, No Sirens is as gripping as it is terrifying, a morality tale with repercussions for us all.

... Read more

Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars WOW - what an amazing ride!
I just finished reading this book, and I was hoping there were more titles by Robert Cea.Unfortunately there is only this one.Attn: Mr. Cea, can you hurry up and write another one?Thanks!

The author's writing style makes you feel like you are right there, with him in the car, in the run down bars and in the back alleys of New York City.

I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone who can handle the language and violence.Beyond that what emerges is a book of complete and open honesty.You can see where every step seems to be a logical next step in policing.Let a heroin junkie go to get info on a perp with a gun.Thats a good move.A gun gets people killed, a junkie just kills himself.But a small step like that leads to him being completely intertwined with the mean streets and he ends up paying for it.

No more details than that.Its just too good :)

Buy it!You will not be able to put it down.

On a slightly different note, it shows how cops are the real backbone of our system, and they get dumped on from everyone.Defense attorneys, the media, even citizens groups - all for their own political gain.That really sucks, because a lot of good people probably get crushed by the system, who were just there doing a good job.I hate to think about that, but I am sure its true.

Enjoy !! ... Read more

3. Ballad of the Whiskey Robber: A True Story of Bank Heists, Ice Hockey, Transylvanian Pelt Smuggling, Moonlighting Detectives, and Broken Hearts
by Julian Rubinstein
list price: $23.95
our price: $16.29
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0316071676
Catlog: Book (2004-09)
Publisher: Little, Brown
Sales Rank: 1220
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Book Description

Elmore Leonard meets Franz Kafka in the wild, improbably true story of the legendary outlaw of Budapest.

Attila Ambrus was a gentleman thief, a sort of Cary Grant--if only Grant came from Transylvania, was a terrible professional hockey goalkeeper, and preferred women in leopard-skin hot pants. During the 1990s, while playing for the biggest hockey team in Budapest, Ambrus took up bank robbery to make ends meet. Arrayed against him was perhaps the most incompetent team of crime investigators the Eastern Bloc had ever seen: a robbery chief who had learned how to be a detective by watching dubbed Columbo episodes; a forensics man who wore top hat and tails on the job; and a driver so inept he was known only by a Hungarian word that translates to Mound of Ass-Head.

BALLAD OF THE WHISKEY ROBBER is the completely bizarre and hysterical story of the crime spree that made a nobody into a somebody, and told a forlorn nation that sometimes the brightest stars come from the blackest holes. Like The Professor and the Madman and The Orchid Thief, Julian Rubinstein's bizarre crime story is so odd and so wicked that it is completely irresistible. ... Read more

4. Ponzi's Scheme : The True Story of a Financial Legend
list price: $25.95
our price: $17.13
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1400060397
Catlog: Book (2005-03-08)
Publisher: Random House
Sales Rank: 17368
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars Best book I've read this year!
I needn't write a lengthy review as some of my fellowarmchair critics included here have done. I will only second what themajority of them have said. Even J. Edgar Hoover would have had a difficult time disliking this guy!. I'm sure if one had actually been there and suffered personal losses as too many did, he would see it much differently, but from the perspective of this author, Ponzi was a most likeable person and you can't help rooting for him, and poor loyal Rose) until the bitter end! Buy this book! You'll be glad you did.

5-0 out of 5 stars Engaging and Entertaining
In a very engaging account of the arguably the "best" financial scam (before Enron days atleast), Zuckoff narrates the fascinating story an Italian immigrant to the US and his seemingly unending tale of woe, charm, financial trickery - all combined! As the plot (even though this is an actual account of real events, it reads as if it were one of the best written thriller!) develops, one cannot but imagine if any other person could have survived the events Ponzi had to suffer through. Using a brilliant narrative technique, the author develops the main actors' roles in a systematic manner, most notably those of Charles Ponzi, his wife, and Gozier (publisher).

Each chapter also includes a reproduction of a relevant photograph obtained from the famed Post, Boston Library and other sources. Those pictures are so well chosen that they capture the essence of the ensuing chapter very well.

As can be expected from a professor of journalism, the book is well documented with plenty of detailed notes and bibliography for any serious reader.

It should be pointed out that the Epilogue should not be forgotten at all. The unravelling of the "plot" happens mostly in the epilogue and contains numerous twists and turns associated with the fascinating life of Charles Ponzi.

An excellent read, but make sure you have cleared out an entire day or weekend for it, because once you start reading it, you wont stop until you are at the last page!

5-0 out of 5 stars +++COULDN'T PUT IT DOWN!!!!!+++
LOVED this book.Zuckoff's account reads like a well-honed work of fiction, but, as he states in his notes on sources, "the truth was better than anything I could have invented."

The unexpected bonus was a marvelously interesting history of early 20th century Boston politics and newspapers.I grew up here and had heard tell of many of the names mentioned in the book, but never had them fully fleshed out.And of course, I now fully understand the meaning of the phrase, "Ponzi scheme."

Mr. Ponzi was a charming thief, and though he brought ruin through unethical means to countless people whose faith was terribly misplaced, Zuckoff understands that in order to "hate" a character, you have to care about him first.No good villian is 100 percent evil, otherwise, the reader has nothing invested his his tale except clean and simple revenge.In Zuckoff's hands, the verifiable facts of Ponzi's life and character bring to life a villian who adores and is faithful to his wife, loves his mother, literally gives the skin of his back to a stranger, and accumulates 15 million dollars in 10's from laborers and 100,000's from Brahmins and thinks, in the end, he can make good by literally robbing his own bank.

You couldn't make this stuff up, and lucky for us, Zuckoff didn't have to!


5-0 out of 5 stars The Friendly Thief
We've all heard of the Ponzi Scheme, what they referred to in that era as "robbing Peter to pay Paul".But this well researched book traces the tragic story of how Charles Ponzi came to America, what he did before the Ponzi scheme and what happened to him afterwards.It would make a great movie! Situated in Boston, he ran ads for great returns and when many middle class people invested, publicity soon followed with various members of the media warning that it was a scam.No common criminal, he took the press on and argued the opposite winning much public support.

It is a fascinating tale!The side story of the faithful wife who only wanted her husband at home without the money and the final outcome of their marriage is also heartwarming and tragic.

I like business biographies and this certainly qualifies although I wouldn't consider him the classic success story.This book offers so much more with detailed history of that time period and the roles regulators, politicians and media played in society at that time.And the story itself is charming in many ways.Charles Ponzi was a common man that on the surface became wealthy and everyone rooted for him.But it only lasted so long.If you have interest in finance you will like this book.If you have interest in the history of the early 1900s in this growing country you will be interested.If you like novels and good character growth I think this will also be of interest as it reads like a novel as he develops his scheme.

5-0 out of 5 stars The fascinating and entertaining story behind the term
We have all heard and used the term Ponzi Scheme, but almost none of us living today know the story that gave birth to the term.In this skilful and intelligent biography of Charles Ponzi, Mitchell Zuckoff shows us Ponzi's character flaws, his charisma, how he developed his scheme(s), and how the enemies he made brought him down.

Charles Ponzi was born Carlo Ponzi in 1882 in the town of Lugo, Italy.His family sacrificed to send him to a prestigious university where he fell in with rich kids whose lifestyle he enjoyed.In trying to keep with them he ended up having to leave school without finishing.His family sent him to America where the streets were paved with gold, so they told him.Of course, like most Italian immigrants of the time, he had hard times.However, hard work was distasteful to him.

This combination of a desire to live rich lifestyle combined with a disdain for hard work and an impatience to build wealth led him, predictably, to problems with the law.He was obsessed with get-rich-quick schemes.Then came the lightening bolt.In 1920, he saw an International Reply Coupon.These coupons were merely meant to provide prepaid return postage for international mail.Let's say I sent a vendor in a foreign country a contract.I could include the appropriate coupon so my vendor could return the signed contract at my expense.

Ponzi had about 1/3 of a good idea (noticing the mispricings between the currency exchange rates and the fixed priced coupons).He knew that there were mispricings in these coupons because of the currency devaluations in certain currencies after the Great War.So, all he had to do was buy coupons that were under priced, turn them into stamps, turn the stamps into cash, and he would have oceans of money!So, he plunged ahead without bothering to work out all the details in his scheme.But he needed cash to start the ball rolling.The solution was Ponzi notes.He offered 50% interest on your money in 45 - 90 days.He found the first few "investors" and when he paid on time, money began flowing in.Soon it was a torrent of cash.It wasn't long before Ponzi had an ocean of money; millions of dollars.He was big news and a hero to many.He developed a patter noting how he was making all this happen for the little guy because he didn't care about money whereas banks took all their profits for their shareholders.

Zuckoff writes a fascinating account of how Ponzi tried to find a way of going "legit" while he robbed Peter to pay Paul as he stalled for time.Unfortunately for Ponzi, his sudden and shocking success brought unwanted attention from government and media types including the Boston Post.It is kind of funny how things went bad for Ponzi because the people who were after him had less of a clue than he did (except for C.W. Barron - the financial writer).The author also shows us the one true thing in Ponzi's life, his love for his wife, Rose.

It is hard to feel too sorry for those ending up losing money in this scheme.They were also going after quick riches and even under the best of circumstances high return investments also have high risks of losing everything.Of course, Ponzi's scheme was no investment, and it was all risk.There was never much of a chance that it would ever do anything but crash.Although, I couldn't figure out why he didn't try gradually lowering his interest rate and extending the return period.It doesn't matter.Those after him were going to bring him down anyway.

The book takes us through the trials and jail terms.Ponzi's fame had made him too politically profitable to be left alone or punished only once.His life ends sadly as do the lives of a few of those who built their careers going after him.It seems to me this book would make a fabulous movie or mini-series.However, you would have to find just the right actor to pull off Ponzi's greatest assets: his confidence and charm.He was only five foot two so; the actor would also have to be short.

Anyway, this is a terrifically entertaining read and I recommend it. ... Read more

5. Pimp: The Story of My Life
by Iceberg Slim
list price: $7.95
our price: $7.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 087067935X
Catlog: Book (1987-06)
Publisher: Holloway House Publishing Company
Sales Rank: 26869
Average Customer Review: 4.56 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (59)

4-0 out of 5 stars Disgusting, scary, but such an interesting voice.
I've got two completely different opinions about _Pimp_ and Robert Beck himself. One is glowing, the other terrible. Maybe that's what makes Beck and his books so interesting. First, the glowing opinion. Beck's style is like nothing I've ever read before. He claims to have a 175 I.Q. I don't doubt it. No one less brilliant could conjure up the metaphors and images he casually slings as if they were off the top of his head. The book is written in a loose, story-telling style, as if it was never revised, typos and all. Beck makes you feel as if you were standing on a street corner listening to a "fast track pimp" weave his life's yarn. Many times, I would read a sentence several times simply to admire the unique vision Beck gave to an action as simple as getting in or out of a car (a "hog") or thinking about his mother. The terminology is another, brilliantly colorful language (complete with glossary in the back!).Although the story dotes on his early years and then cruises through a couple of decades in a matter of pages, Beck's tale was never slow or anything less than gleaming. That is the glowing opinion. Now the terrible one. I'll try not to seem sanctimonious. To me, Robert Beck is (was) an alarmingly vicious hypocrite and psychopathic criminal. The book begins and ends with his tepid claims that he has seen the error of his ways and regrets his former life. These meager claims are ridiculous when you read the pride, nostalgia, and admiration with which Beck recounts his former life. In one passage in particular, his role model and mentor teaches him an unbelievable method to keep his whores in line. Whip them bloody with a wire coathanger. Beck eagerly tests the method. You can sense the satisfaction with which he regards the successful results. Beck tells us about breaking women's jaws and pummelling them senseless in the same manner he might use to recount old football victories. This is not a repentant ex-pimp. This is a retired pimp who is smart enough to realize that if he pays lipservice to reform and enlightenment, he will sell his books to a much larger audience. He certainly did make a nice pile of "scratch" off the stories he wrote glorifying his former lifestyle ("Long White Con" is the other Beck book I've read-- much more mediocre in style and plot). In the end, I recommend _Pimp_ as a refreshingly unique voice in modern literature. I certainly don't admire Beck's life, nor endorse the lifestyle (as so many other reviewers alarmingly seem to!).

5-0 out of 5 stars Iceberg - a diamond in the rough..
Slim's books could not have been written by anyone else. the genius of them derives from two things, slim's own lengthy and painfull experiance of the ills and games of the ghetto in his era and the poetry and downtrodden virtue of his sole. this is the story of his life and its a story worth telling, many have lived longer and not gone through half as much, the story weaves from an abuzed childhood through life as mean young adolescant and into his early days as an ambitious young pimp keen to hit the "fast track" in Chicago. from here on in it's a tale of abuse, drugs, degradation and manipulation as well as in it's own strange way love. However the story is only half the book and it's through the poetic telling of that story that we really get to meet the engrossing character,enigma and genius of iceberg slim. Slim remoulds street slang and lingo into a rich and textured prose which stands comparison with the very greatest writers, it's a pleasure to read (if a little hard to understand at first), it's also very cool and any young man who reads this book will find slim's slang slipping into his speech in no time. This story is engrossing from start to finish, Slim makes it out of the game in the end and became a writer - be thankfull.

5-0 out of 5 stars Pimp'd
Great Read - the story is amazingly original with the highs and lows of Iceberg's life detailed in an honest & direct manner. Reading this book, you believe everyword...mostly b/c it does not sound that glamorous eventhough the main character becomes enrapt with the lifestyle. Clearly, the reader has to step back and relaize that reading a life-story about a pimp is not the same as supporting prostitution...

4-0 out of 5 stars a little much for the typical reader
Having grown up in the Chicago suburbs and been in high school during the gangster-rap glory years, I was only exposed to the fantasy-end of pimp culture in music videos, etc. Iceberg Slim is not the pimp of the type shown on MTV - this story is full of desperation and regret. There is a real pathological hatred of women that plays out in Slim's foul treatment of his prostitutes. Homo-eroticism abounds in Slim's relationships with other, especially more senior pimps. Slim rots in confinement for some time, and guess what, he doesn't enjoy it. This story is good antidote to the pervasive and unambiguous sexuality that gets portrayed on the rap videos (at least, it was when I last watched one in the mid 90's), which ignore the truly aberrent aspects to the lifestyle that gets shamelessly glorified.

5-0 out of 5 stars MAKE A MOVIE OUT OF THIS BOOK!!!
ATTENTION: Editors, Directors movie makers, get to work on this book as a film. It's your duty to put this book on the silver screen, and if you do it, do it right. Don't leave out anything. This is real-life Pimpin' at it's greatest. No one man has been through as much as Iceberg Slim in the Pimp Game. In, 2006 would be the best time to have it out. But, mark my words this will make people open thier eyes to how trife life can be. THIS WILL BE THE BEST PIMP MOVIE EVER MADE. ... Read more

6. Killing Pablo: The Hunt for the World's Greatest Outlaw
by Mark Bowden
list price: $15.00
our price: $10.20
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0142000957
Catlog: Book (2002-04-01)
Publisher: Penguin Books
Sales Rank: 6018
Average Customer Review: 4.37 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

A tour de force of investigative journalism-this is the story of the violent rise and fall of Pablo Escobar, the head of the Colombian Medellin cocaine cartel. Escobar's criminal empire held a nation of thirty million hostage in a reign of terror that would only end with his death. In an intense, up-close account, award-winning journalist Mark Bowden exposes details never before revealed about the U.S.-led covert sixteen-month manhunt. With unprecedented access to important players-including Colombian president C&eacutesar Gaviria and the incorruptible head of the special police unit that pursued Escobar, Colonel Hugo Martinez-as well as top-secret documents and transcripts of Escobar's intercepted phone conversations, Bowden has produced a gripping narrative that is a stark portrayal of rough justice in the real world.

"The story of how the U.S. Army Intelligence and Delta Force commandos helped Colombian police track down and kill Pablo Escobar is a compelling, almost Shakespearean tale." (Los Angeles Times)

"Absolutely riveting. . . . Mark Bowden has a way of making modern nonfiction read like the best of novels." (The Denver Post)
... Read more

Reviews (126)

4-0 out of 5 stars Second to Black Hawk Down
Killing Pablo is a book that should have been made into a movie. It had every aspect of a good movie needed to succeed. Pablo Escobar, who was at the time, the single most powerful drug trafficker in the world. As he became more powerful, he believed the more people needed to be taken out. Little did he know this was the beginning of his long and violent downfall. Mark Bowden again delivers a book that reads very easy. Full of information about hundreds of people involved with either Pablo's rise or Pablo's fall, Killing Pablo is one of the most informitive books I have read about beginning of the drug wars that have consumed the United States of America for now well over 10 years. With the current escalating situation in South America, Killing Pablo is a great book to gain a better understanding of why exactly there are American soldiers down there. I would recomend this book to anybody who enjoys furthering their knowledge of modern day wars, or who has enjoyed books like this, for example Black Hawk Down, in the past. I give it 4 stars because it is not as good as Black Hawk Down, and doesnt deserve to be given and equal rating. A very well done book though.

3-0 out of 5 stars Informative, yet unfulfilling
For a straight journalistic account of how the U.S. Government joined forces with elements of the Colombian government to hunt down and kill Pablo Escobar, "Killing Pablo" brings the goods. The years long pursuit of the man many considered to be the world's most notorious outlaw was punctuated by epic corruption and fantastic levels of sickening violence. All of this author Mark Bowdon scrupulously documents. The problem with the book is that Bowden has no sources who were truly on the inside of Escobar's empire. This is not surprising given that most of his associates were killed. But without first hand accounts of many of the violent incidents, they become a blur of facts that eventually become mind numbing. By all accounts, Escobar was a cunning and ruthless man, but without first hand accounts, the reader really doesn't get to know him. As a result, Bowden's narrative tends to drag after awhile.

Bowden does an excellent job of humanizing the men, both American and Colombian, who were reponsible for Escobar's downfall. But their stories are just not as interesting. Ultimately, at the end of the book Bowden shows just how futile the drug war has been to date. It would be nice to think that the book might help America rethink its drug startegy. But I think that's being overly optomistic.

4-0 out of 5 stars Reading Pablo
I picked up this book because I really liked Black Hak Down. This book is written in the same style that made BHD a great book. There is great attention to detail, personal portraits of the characters, and an ever-evolving storyline. My exposure to Pablo Escobar before this book was just a brief understanding that he was a drug dealer from way back. Other than that I could not tell you much about the guy. But after reading this book, I have a much better understanding of the man and why the U.S. wanted him neutralized.

Great read. Quick read. Must buy.

5-0 out of 5 stars an interesting argument against the drug war
This book, inadvertently, I suspect, is really an argument against the drug war. By now a cliche, this line of thought postulates that, were drugs like cocaine not criminalized in the states, there would be no or little incentive for murderous thugs in Latin America to risk murder and lengthy prison times getting the drug in this country.

Thus, one could argue, quite blithely, that, had the American government wised up and attempted to regulate drug trafficking like any other international business, many of the unsavory elements of the business would depart for greener (more illicit) pastures. The natural consequence of this, of course, would be that millions of dollars otherwise spent on futile attempts at interdiction and eradication would be spent elsewhere, and many of the thousands of people killed both in the United States and Latin America over the past 25 years would instead be alive.

Would that it were true that the United States could hew to the lessons learned in the alcohol trade: once alcohol was legal again in the United States and it became a regulated drug sold only to people legally eligible to buy it, the violence associated with it declined precipitously. In fact, the only violence associated with alcohol use today is domestic violence and drunk driving. Those violent acts, while of course tragic to all those involved in them, are far fewer and far less bloody than the gang wars initiated by Al Capone and his antogonists.

That the same lesson applies in the drug war is sad.

On another note, a number of reviewers on this site have mentioned many apparent parallels between the hunt for Pablo Escobar and the hunt for Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. While it is true that, superficially, there are parallels, such as the US government deciding that its national security in all three instances was at risk with these monsters operating openly, it is nonetheless an unfair comparison. Relatively few Colombians liked Escobar, and he never had the legitimacy of the state behind him, as did Hussein.

Given all that, this is an excellent account of the travails leading up to, and concluding with, the execution of Escobar.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Read
This book was a great read. I had always been interested in the story about Pablo's rise and fall, and this book was very well written, and informative. ... Read more

7. Wiseguy
by Nicholas Pileggi
list price: $7.99
our price: $7.19
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0671723227
Catlog: Book (1990-09-01)
Publisher: Pocket
Sales Rank: 7686
Average Customer Review: 4.71 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

"At the age of twelve my ambition was to become a gangster. To be a wiseguy. Being a wiseguy was better than being President of the United States. To be a wiseguy was to own the world." -- Henry Hill

Wiseguy is Nicholas Pileggi's remarkable bestseller, the most intimate account ever printed of life inside the deadly high-stakes world of what some people call the Mafia. Wiseguy is Henry Hill's story, in fascinating, brutal detail, the never-before-revealed day-to-day life of a working mobster -- his violence, his wild spending sprees, his wife, his mistresses, his code of honor.

Henry Hill knows where a lot of bodies are buried, and he turned Federal witness to save his own life. The mob is still hunting him for what he reveals in Wiseguy: hundreds of crimes including arson, extortion, hijacking, and the $6 million Lufthansa heist, the biggest successful cash robbery in U.S. history, which led to ten murders. A firsthand account of the secret world of the mob,

Wiseguy is more compelling than any novel. ... Read more

Reviews (82)

5-0 out of 5 stars Readable and Gripping
Pileggi's gripping narrative gives an inside view of life in the New York crime syndicate. Ex-mobster Henry Hill describes his 25-year career as a hijacker, arsonist, and thief. Hill and his associates operated via a combination of bribes, intimidation, crooked cops, and greedy businessmen eager for stolen merchandise (swag). Lest readers be misinformed, Hill's associates (if not Hill) murdered not just renegade mobsters, but ordinary citizens who got in the way. This book both glamorizes and attacks the swaggering, fast-money Mafia lifestyle. Hill entered FBI witness protection in 1980 after his bust for narcotics distribution left him a marked man for having violated syndicate rules against drug trafficking. Director Martin Scorsese turned this book into the superb 1990 movie "Goodfellows." Pileggi followed with "Casino," another fine narrative (and Scorsese movie) that investigates Midwest mob influence in Las Vegas. "Wiseguy" is a very absorbing and informative read.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Best of its Type
Anyone who may have seen the movie Godfellas, might have thought the movie too fast paced to follow. That is not the case for this book from which the movie was made. This non-fiction tale of Henry Hill, a soldier in one of the smaller New York crime families is very easy to follow as well as extremely difficult to put down once you start. You actually develop a liking for the main character, who is way more passive then his two partners who kill without compunction or remorse. Though none of them ever becomes a 'made' man, they seem to be right on the cusp of a lot of big Mafia related events that happened in the 1970's and 80's. Having read The Valachi Papers and Sammy Gravanno's autobiography, I find this book the best of the bunch.

5-0 out of 5 stars Memoir of a "Frontline" mafioso
Wiseguy is the story of Henry Hill, a relatively minor associate member of the Luchese crime family of New York. Henry Hill is a half-Irish, half-Sicilian boy, who knew from a very early age that he wanted to be a wiseguy, a gangster. The movie "Goofellas", starring Ray Liotta as Henry Hill, is a rather good adaptation of this book. The book tells the story of Henry Hill, how he eventually becomes an errand boy for the Varios, a family of mafioso under the umbrella of the Lucheses (one of the Five Families in New York) and works his way up the ladder, making bigger heists, bigger scores, and loving every minute of it. Only when his involvement as a drug dealer and his subsequent arrest threaten to put him away for a long time does Hill finally make the decision to rat out his friends of 25 years and enter the Witness Protection Program in exchange for information leading to the conviction of bigger fish.

The book also takes down the recollections of Henry Hill's wife, Karen, who, despite an upper-crust upbringing, is irresistably drawn to the danger and excitement Henry brings into her otherwise humdrum, yet comfortable life.

Overall, this book paints an interesting portrait of life as a career criminal, where larceny, armed robbery, and intimidation are all in a day's work. This is in stark contrast to those familiar with "The Godfather" which is more about the lives of Mafia "royalty" and how the problems of wealthy, pwerful people are similar, whether they are kings, heads of state, or leaders of crime syndicates.

4-0 out of 5 stars great book
I admit that this book is really good, but "life inside a mafia famiy" is a stretch considering Hill wasn't even a made man.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great book, better movie.
This of course is the all time classic that the best movie of the 90's was based on - Yes Im talking about Goodfellas. A lot of the exact quotes and dialogue of this book can be found in the movie. I loved the book and I have read it a few times in the past 10 years or so but I have probably seen Goodfellas no fewer than 50 times. Real life events make better stories than fiction sometimes and this proves it. Check out Henry Hills website. I think its called or something like that. He has "threat of the week" on there and everyone emails him calling him a rat. Fun stuff. ... Read more

8. The Way of the Wiseguy
by Joseph Pistone
list price: $22.95
our price: $15.61
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0762418397
Catlog: Book (2004-03-01)
Publisher: Running Press Book Publishers
Sales Rank: 9597
Average Customer Review: 3.44 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Here's the first nonfiction work from author Joe Pistone since his New York Times #1 bestseller and hit movie, Donnie Brasco. Perhaps no man alive knows the inner workings and lifestyle of wiseguys better than Pistone does, having spent six years infiltrating the Mafia as an undercover FBI agent. Now, years later, Pistone reassesses what the underworld was really about. Occasionally poignant, always in shocking detail, The Way of the Wiseguy gives readers a first-hand look at the thinking, psychology, and customs that make wiseguys a unique breed. The book is divided into anecdotes that reveal key principles of wiseguy life, including "Don't Volunteer You Don't Know Something," "Be a Good Earner," "Look Like You Mean Business, "It's Your Best Friend Who Will Kill You," and much more. The stories-more than 80 of them-are spellbinding, and the insights into this lawless realm of badguys are often uncannily relevant to the workings of the legitimate world of big business and everyday social discourses. Includes CD with shocking undercover surveillance audio from the Donnie Brasco operation (with commentary by author Joe Pistone). ... Read more

Reviews (16)

2-0 out of 5 stars Tired material, dubious delivery
If you read Donnie Brasco - or know even a little bit about the prototypical wiseguy - you do not need to read this book. It essentially details the way mobsters live their daily lives, what's important to them (money), why they kill people (also money), etc. If you have a brain in your skull you could have gleaned that from Pistone's first book, or the film Donnie Brasco, or any of the Godfather movies. What's worse, the book is littered with profanity, something that was missing (or at least not gratuitous) from the Donnie Brasco book. And it also surprised me because when you see Pistone interviewed, he seems like a class act. The profanity seems highly contrived as to make you think Pistone has more credibility if he talks like a scumbag.

5-0 out of 5 stars Brasco does it again
This book was an excellent read. Told in Joe Pistone's authentic voice, it provides an alternative viewpoint to Hollywood's glamorized version of the mafia-a viewpoint that we don't see often enough.

I particularly enjoyed the format. The book is interspersed with some shorter chapters and some longer ones, each consisting of anecdotes that teach lessons about the wiseguy's lifestyle. So whether you've got an hour to sit down and read it, or whether you've only got 10 minutes here and there, you can pick up The Way of the Wiseguy at any point and be entertained and enlightened.

Informative, funny, and poignant all at once, Pistone brought me closer to being inside the mafia than I'll ever be. And convinced me that I don't ever want to get any closer.

2-0 out of 5 stars Disappointing. Warmed-over rehash of better titles.
Joseph Pistone takes a page out of the handbook of those he put away and shakes down mafia aficionados for a quick buck.

There is nothing in this writing that hasn't been documented before by other authors better and in more detail. What we hope is a true insider's view of the day-to-day machinations of the mob turns out to be a book of thirty one- to two-page essays on various facets of a Mafioso's daily life. We hope to get a look at mob life not apparent to those of us on the outside, to get a true feel for the Way of the Wiseguy. What we get instead is a Cliff's notes outline of The Godfather.

Way of the Wiseguy offers up such gems as :

--some Wiseguys are degenerate gamblers
--Wiseguys do not have the same value system as everyday people
--Wiseguys send a message by whacking people
--Wiseguys are greedy
--Wiseguys take goomahs
--Wiseguys are all about the money

Do you want more details or information than the above list? Don't expect to find it in Way of the Wiseguy. Pistone really phones it in on this one: pulling a robbery on the book buying public that should be the inspiration for chapter one in his next writing: Fake Wiseguys know how to sucker the public too.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Fun & Informative Fast Read
While Pistone uses poor english --- 6th grade level lower class english, he writes what I find to be a riveting account of life in La Costra Nostra.

These are all issues and things that most people wonder about mobsters and Pistone answers them clearly, succinctly and well.

This is a good book for people interested in American History, Mafia history, the mob in general and sociology, among other things. One can't help but see a bit of oneself in mobsters. After all, we all have a dark side even if we never show it or dare to think about it.

A warning to parents, this book uses what some might consider very bad language although among business people, politicians, mobsters and just about every living human being, it's quite common. But if you are sensitive, don't buy it.

If you want a really great read and don't mind poor english and bad language, do buy it. It's totally different than any other book about La Costra (...)

1-0 out of 5 stars thin and weak
There isn't a whole lot to this book. Several 1 page chapters and blank pages. You can get a lot more information in other books. I loved Donnie Brasco, but this seems like a cheap way to get a quick buck. ... Read more

9. Hell's Angel: The Life and Times of Sonny Barger and the Hell's Angels Motorcycle Club
by Sonny Barger, Keith Zimmerman, Kent Zimmerman
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060937548
Catlog: Book (2001-10-01)
Publisher: Perennial
Sales Rank: 23903
Average Customer Review: 4.13 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Narrated by the visionary founding member, Hell's Angel provides a fascinating all-access pass to the secret world of the notorious Hell's Angels Motorcycle Club. Sonny Barger recounts the birth of the original Oakland Hell's Angels and the four turbulent decades that followed. Hell's Angel also chronicles the way the HAMC revolutionized the look of the Harley-Davidson motorcycle and built what has become a worldwide bike-riding fraternity, a beacon for freedom-seekers the world over.

Dozens of photos, including many from private collections and from noted photographers, provide visual documentation to this extraordinary tale. Never simply a story about motorcycles, colorful characters, and high-speed thrills, Hell's Angel is the ultimate outlaw's tale of loyalty and betrayal, subcultures and brotherhood, and the real price of freedom.

... Read more

Reviews (67)

4-0 out of 5 stars A thoroughly excellent book.
Sonny Barger has lived the life and "Hell's Angel" chronicles it all. From the moment I began reading I found it hard to put down. Few other books have inspired that much anticipation in me.

While never truly romanticizing the 1%'er lifestyle it still holds an appeal that is undeniable, which is to say that those close to the subject will understandably get the most out of this while the rest of us will still find it a remarkably engrossing read. I was surprised to find that not very many books on the Hell's Angels and other associated clubs have been written, and of those that have most are of the expose/tabloid variety. Sonny on the other hand lays it all out in a very plain, unapologetic manner. He doesn't seek your approval just tells it how it is without ever acknowledging the right or wrong of his actions. "Hell's Angel" is not an indictment of his personal values or those of the Hell's Angels themselves.

At times, though, "Hell's Angel" has a tendency to meander out of chronological order and which gets kind of confusing but it usually becomes obvious after a few minutes of reading just exactly where the event in question took place.

This is a must have for any Americana lover out there so do yourself a favor, don't wait, go out and buy this book right now.

3-0 out of 5 stars Strong start, slower finish
I picked this book up at my local library as soon as I saw it on the shelf. Love 'em or hate 'em, the Hell's Angels are a part of 20th century American history and culture, and the lion's share of the credit for this fact goes to Sonny Barger. It was interesting to read *the* insider's look at the Angels, whose image has been heavily mythologized, both positively and negatively, since the 1950s.

The first chapters of the book were more interesting to me, since they dealt with the history of motorcycle gangs in 1940s and 1950s America, the formation of the Hell's Angels Motorcycle Club, and the personalities and activities that put the group on the map, as it were. Descriptions of Angels' club rules, codes of conduct, and reflections on their famous runs and riots were riveting.

But as the book went along it became less about the HAMC and more about the trials (literally) and tribulations of Sonny Barger. Granted, Barger is an interesting personality and I came away with a certain admiration for the man, and the book is the story of Sonny Barger and not just the club, but chapters about Barger's drug trials, incarcerations, and other travails were less interesting to me than stories of the heady early days of the HAMC.

All told, however, this is a good look into one of the more interesting but neglected parts of 20th century American society.

1-0 out of 5 stars An old man who has selective memory
"Sometimes you have to fight to be free". Bless you Sonny, but you know the real truth and you have left all except the most innocent facts out of this book. The Hells Angels are a horror and a growing one at that.

5-0 out of 5 stars back in the day...
Not owing a bike or even being able to ride one, I found myself wanting to Be a Angel( mostly because of the parties, booze and the woman). The book is mostly about former members and the roots of the bike club. It pretty wild stuff and hell I can see why the FBI keeps tabs on these boys.. Over all if you every wanted to know about the Hells Angels read about it from the man himself....

5-0 out of 5 stars truly inspirational
this book was such an inspiration to me, it helped me learn of a new alternitave way to live a life free of the daily toil of the system and helped correct all those rumors heard (especialy about "that" rolling stones incedent) and proved my point that Hunter S Thompson nothing that he makes himself out to be, i am not a bike or gang enthusiast, i had this book bought as an out of the blue gift and now that ive read it im so glad to have recived it ... Read more

10. Catch Me If You Can: The True Story of a Real Fake
by Stan Redding, Frank W. Abagnale
list price: $14.95
our price: $10.17
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0767905385
Catlog: Book
Publisher: Broadway
Sales Rank: 4627
Average Customer Review: 4.24 out of 5 stars
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When this true-crime story first appeared in 1980, it made the New York Times bestseller list within weeks. Two decades later, it's being rereleased in conjunction with a film version produced by DreamWorks. In the space of five years, Frank Abagnale passed $2.5 million in fraudulent checks in every state and 26 foreign countries. He did it by pioneering implausible and brazen scams, such as impersonating a Pan Am pilot (puddle jumping around the world in the cockpit, even taking over the controls). He also played the role of a pediatrician and faked his way into the position of temporary resident supervisor at a hospital in Georgia. Posing as a lawyer, he conned his way into a position in a state attorney general's office, and he taught a semester of college-level sociology with a purloined degree from Columbia University.

The kicker is, he was actually a teenage high school dropout. Now an authority on counterfeiting and secure documents, Abagnale tells of his years of impersonations, swindles, and felonies with humor and the kind of confidence that enabled him to pull off his poseur performances. "Modesty is not one of my virtues. At the time, virtue was not one of my virtues," he writes. In fact, he did it all for his overactive libido--he needed money and status to woo the girls. He also loved a challenge and the ego boost that came with playing important men. What's not disclosed in this highly engaging tale is that Abagnale was released from prison after five years on the condition that he help the government write fraud-prevention programs. So, if you're planning to pick up some tips from this highly detailed manifesto on paperhanging, be warned: this master has already foiled you. --Lesley Reed ... Read more

Reviews (236)

5-0 out of 5 stars A true and daring story of a teanaged con man
I've seen the movie and read the book and I enjoyed both. The movie stars Leonardo DiCaprio as the con man of the title being pursued by Tom Hanks as the FBI agent. The book is a true story about a 16 year old New York runaway who leads the FBI and other law enforcement on a 5 year globe trotting escapade of bouncing check, forged payroll checks and life in the fast lane. The author impersonated a Pan American pilot, a pediatric doctor, and an attorney among others. He did this mostly as a teenager who dropped out of high school. Obviously he is not your average drop out, but an intelligent and scheming confidence man. He was more that just a two-bit paper hanger, as he developed techniques using the Federal Routing identification number that had not been used before. After being caught and imprisoned in France, Sweden and United States, Frank Abagnale used his expertise and talents to improve the check banking system, help catch other criminals, work with the FBI, and start his own secure documents corporation. In the back of the book is a question and answer section with the author where he reveals that the movie is 80% accurate. Obvious you can not put a book covering 5 years into a 2+hour movie so some events were altered, and of course some events in the book were omitted from the movie. I give this book my highest recommendation as a fun and enjoyable read. I myself enjoyed all that much more knowing that this is a true story, written by the actual perpetrator, of his exploits as mostly a teenager. Adults as well as teenagers will like this book. This is a an easy read and a fun book to read, I hope you enjoy it as much as me. I'm also planning to read the author's other book, "The Art of the Steal".

Older reades will see some similarities in the true book/movie, "The Great Imposter" which starred Tony Curtis.

5-0 out of 5 stars If you liked the movie, you will love the book!
I really enjoyed the movie, but I did not believe any of it. How could a 16 year old pull off all these scams posing successfully as an airline pilot, lawyer, doctor, and FBI agent. Only in Hollywood! I had to read the book to uncover the truth. To my amazement, almost nothing in the movie was dramatized. Frank Abagnale did it all. And, this even includes the acrobatic escape from a commercial plane as it lands.

The book depicts a far richer story than the movie. At the start, the family situation is more complex. The scams are more intricate. The career path is more extraordinary. The movie skipped over interesting jobs, including a stint as a college sociology teacher.

Also amazing is that this teenager acquired far more knowledge about the meaning of every single digit on a personal check than any banker I know. And, I know, having been engaged in banking and finance for over two decades.

Frank's character development make the whole story more likely. Frank was not your regular 16 year old dude. At 16, he could easily pass for a fit 25 year old. He was 6 feet tall, 170 pounds. He also acquired quite a real world education by hanging out with his Dad. His Dad exposed him to political, business, and social circles that teenagers do not know. Thus, Frank Abagnale, being a queen observer, learned quickly how adults behave among themselves.

Frank was also strikingly handsome, and confident. So, the story includes many romantic interludes. This aspect of life is described most tastefully. There is nothing graphic here. And, it does not detract from the story. To the contrary, women were a key element in this scammer's education. They were often insiders to the professions he attempted to fake.

There are a lot of close calls, where you feel Abagnale's cover is going to peel off for good. But, invariably he recovers elegantly from what appears like desperate situations.

In the last part of the book things finally go south. But, it is still fascinating. You learn about the awful prison standards and jail terms in France and Italy. You also find out how Sweden treats their own incarcerated people so much better.

In the Afterword & Q & A section, you are relieved that everything turned out well for this likable Robin hood like figure. He now leads a very successful life as a corporate consultant on fraud, happily married with kids. Hard to believe but true.

5-0 out of 5 stars a heart-racer!
One of the most intriguing moments of this autobiography comes in the first few pages of the book. When asked why he used his dad's Mobil card in order to steal money, he responds, "It's the girls, dad. They do funny things to me. I can't explain it." The first chapter prepares the reader for the rest of the book by giving the implication that Abagnale's crimes were committed because of his out-of-control obsession with women. And not only that, but he committed crimes only because he wanted to see how much he could get away with.

This is a tale of America's "youngest and most daring con man in the history of fun and profit," a man who got away with absolutely everything before he was finally caught. The reader is brought into Abagnale's childhood and how he grew up, and follows his life in the years after he ran away from home and began his life as a criminal. The way Abagnale wrote the events as they happened is witty, charming, and has you rooting for the bad guy! The 293 pages go quick as you jump from airplane cockpits, to classrooms, to courtrooms, to hospitals, and back to the beginning again. Your head spins as you read on and find out just what he gets away with, right until the very last page.

5-0 out of 5 stars Amazing
This book relates the exploits of the young Frank Abagnale, Jr., master con-artist. When Abagnale's parents split up in the early 1960s, Frank went to live with his father. He was a teenager who was addicted to girls, and found that he needed greater and greater sums to gain their company. To get a little extra money, he hatched his first scheme to score a little extra cash with his father's credit card. This started him down the slippery slope, and before long, he moved on to passing bad checks, creating counterfeit checks, soon adopting entirely new identities and personae to assist in his paper-passing schemes. The list of aliases and assumed positions is mind-boggling, ranging from pilot to pediatrician to professor. What makes his story even more remarkable is that he was able to pass off each of these assumed identities successfully, even though he was in reality still a teenager. This book details how he was able to do so, from interviewing real pilots, to learning the lingo of the trade, forging transcripts, studying technical dictionaries in broom closets when confronted on the job with terms he did not know, to cramming for and eventually passing the Bar in Georgia (at the age of 19, as a highschool dropout!). Abagnale was certainly no slouch, and could have gone far in any field he chose to apply himself to.

Abagnale's capers become bolder and more unbelievable with every page, giving the story both suspense and comic relief at times. The book doesn't leave readers with the message that crime pays, however. Abagnale describes his foreign prison experiences in great and gruesome detail. He also relates how he eventually ended up working for the FBI, having been fired from job after job in the civilian sector after employers found out he was an ex-convict. Thanks to the efforts of the reformed Abagnale at educating bankers and clerks, kids today would have a far more difficult time pulling off the capers that he did. But now, we have the Internet. . .

3-0 out of 5 stars Reads like a well made novel, but the ending has no meaning
"Catch Me If You Can" is a fun and enjoyable read and is easily as good as many current novels. If you like the movie the book will be even more interesting because it goes into detail about Abagnale's exploits. In fact, in many ways the book is actually more interesting than the movie.

For example, many movie viewers couldn't figure out how Abagnale escaped an airplane via the bathroom toilet. This actually happened and is described in the book. Abagnale also describes in far more detail the extent to which he researched how to look and act like a real airline pilot. It's mind boggling how much effort he was willing to put into it.

Despite how fun it is to read, "Catch Me if You Can" has one huge glaring flaw: the ending.

We know that Abagnale has worked with the banking industry for many years now in helping them improve their security. What we don't really know, at least from him directly, is how he went from being a swindler to being a high paid consultant. On a psychological level this is the meat of the story. OK, he had a ball being a fake pilot, doctor and lawyer. But what did he learn? Anything? This is where the book falls into the definition of fluff. Because we have no meaning, no explanation, all we're left with are outrageous exploits and escapades.

All of this begs the question: Did Abagnale actually learn anything? Or is all of this just a further continuation of the con he started as a kid? I don't know either way. It's too bad because Abagnale likely has a few things to teach us - especially at-risk youth who tend to think they're invincible. Unfortunately, the message Abagnale seems to be giving us is that you CAN get away with it. While that's certainly true (just look at ENRON!), it doesn't help that the author shows so little remorse or an explanation of how he changed. ... Read more

11. Gangsters and Goodfellas: The Mob, Witness Protection, and Life on the Run
by Henry Hill, Gus Russo
list price: $21.95
our price: $15.36
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1590770293
Catlog: Book (2004-06)
Publisher: M. Evans and Company
Sales Rank: 10085
Average Customer Review: 3.67 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars FUN BOOK -- the Post-Mafia dream --
I liked this book a lot. If you're a big goodfellas buff, and most people are, you're in for some entertainment here. Plenty of good anecdotes about the gangsters, their wives, their kids, Gotti -- the whole nine yards.

The thing to keep in mind is that it's written by Henry Hill -- a guy who has no real formal training in grammar (it's explained early on in the book). If you've heard him on Howard Stern, then you know he never really answers the question you ask him, and that voice comes through here.

His life has been a wild ride to read about.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good book but Poorly Written
Being a huge Goodfellas fan, I read Wiseguy and read this book on a recent flight. It is a good book and will help clear up some lingering questions you may have had after Goodfella's. For example your learn , Henry Hill's name in the Witness Protection program was Peter Haines later changed to Martin Todd Lewis and he lived in several states in the mid west before ending up in Washington. You also learn about what he is up to these days. Parts of the book are drawn out with old stories but it doesn't take away from the overall reading experience. Although, it is poorly written with tons of typos and mis-placed words, I got the sense they rushed this book out to beat a deadline (no pun intended) and never proof read it. It looks like they did nothing more than a routine spell check.

All in all if you are a Goodfella's fan you should read this book it will be worth while. I am glad I read it and after the first few chapters the typos and grammar issues are easy to deal with.

2-0 out of 5 stars Not worth the hype
I have recently read "Wiseguy", "Casino", "Donnie Brasco" and am still reading Henry Hill's book "Gangsters & Goodfellas". I was hoping for a lot, but about 2/3 of this book is a rehash of "Wiseguy", only not as well told. There are numerous wrong word/name usages (like it wasn't proofread, just run through a spellchecker). Also, he tells some of the same stories 2 or 3 times in different parts of the book. Overall, it just seems like a vain attempt to revisit the well one too many times. Even the photos could have been much better and captioned better. There's a Christmas photo that's interesting, but Henry doesn't say who's in the picture with him! How about more pictures of the Varios, Burke, and the Lufthansa crew? I could use less pics of the "reformed" Henry with his huge gut and more vintage photos from his "glory days".

There are also statements that say Henry was present at multiple hits, but Henry on Howard Stern claims he never killed anybody. Guess what, Henry? Being at a murder makes you a murderer! You're lucky you got transactional immunity.

This is just a poorly written book. If you're lucky you can eke out a few morsels, but just check it out at the library or wait for the paperback...

5-0 out of 5 stars I had to know...
Even though the events of "Goodfellas/Wiseguy" are re-told, new interesting facts are brought up. I'm biased because I'm a big fan of the previous book done with Nicholas Pileggi. Henry did some bad things but he is very gregarious and even charming. If you enjoyed the previous writing and film done about Henry and his involvement w/ OC. This book is a long awaited dream come true. Thanks a lot to Henry and Gus, and next time don't wait 18 years!

4-0 out of 5 stars enjoyable, interesting (but a bit thin)
While certainly not a Mob masterpiece, this breezy 262 pager can be consumed in one or two sittings and will entertain those interested in the Godfather/Goodfellas/Sopranos culture. Though Henry Hill's morals may be a, he's a good storyteller who has lived a fascinating life, albeit one best viewed from a distance (he describes leaving a trail of ex-wives and business partners in the dust). I like this one quite a bit. ... Read more

12. My Bloody Life: The Making of a Latin King (Illinois)
by Reymundo Sanchez
list price: $16.95
our price: $11.53
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1556524277
Catlog: Book (2001-09-01)
Publisher: Chicago Review Press
Sales Rank: 20051
Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Looking for an escape from childhood abuse, Reymundo Sanchez turned away from school and baseball to drugs, alcohol, and then sex, and was left to fend for himself before age 14. The Latin Kings, one of the largest and most notorious street gangs in America, became his refuge and his world, but its violence cost him friends, freedom, self-respect, and nearly his life. This is a raw and powerful odyssey through the ranks of the new mafia, where the only people more dangerous than rival gangs are members of your own gang, who in one breath will say they'll die for you and in the next will order your assassination. ... Read more

Reviews (54)

5-0 out of 5 stars MY LOVE FOR THIS BOOK

4-0 out of 5 stars Latin King tells all and tells it well
My Bloody Life is rather straightforward memoir about Sanchez's randomly brutal childhood and his subsequent violent career with the Latin Kings in Chicago. And a very violent career it was: bloodshed and drug addiction are the two major elements of the narrative. For all of that, this reader did not feel that the author was patronizing us or shocking us for its own sake: he is describing his world as he saw it, and he didn't live by Walden Pond. My Bloody Life does nothing to glamourize gang life, but it is apparent that the Latin Kings did provide Mr. Sanchez with the only community, the only family he has ever had. This adds a poignant note to an unsentimental memoir: it is only when the author is speaking of the gang that you feel he is connected to the world around him. The Latin Kings gave him a chance to be on the winning side of violence, for a while, instead of just being its clueless victim.

The prose is unadorned, the rhetorical tricks few, and the printing errors more frequent that I would wish, but I read this book with the sense that I was reading a life, and not just puffery or bathos. And that is what all memoirs are for. In addition, My Bloody Life tells us a great deal about one gang and one gangbanger, things that many of us do not understand very well, even if we see them everyday. Is this book worth reading? Most definitely.

5-0 out of 5 stars "loco"
I enjoyed the book, MY BOODY LIFE by Raymundo Sanchez. The main character Lil Loco is trying to find his place in life. He was a little boy growing up in Puerto Rico. Later he moved to Chicago. It was hard for him to live there because of his race. There was much discrimination. He was scared to be alone so he started to hang out with different gangs and gang members. They helped him out if he ever had any trouble with anyone. He found lots of friends including those in the Latin Kings.He later became one and had to deal with murder, drug addictions, sex, gang violations. He even dealt with killing some one he used to get along with. I recommend this book to anyone who would even think about joining a gang.

5-0 out of 5 stars Best book I have ever read!
WOW! I ABSOLUTLY HATE READING!!! I never read! But this book is incredible! I couldnt put the book down. Everything was so real. Kids get trapped into things like this everyday where I live and they dont even know what they are getting into. I highly recommend this book. Its easy to read, and its exciting and you just want to continue reading to see what happens next. I have just finished reading it and im about to start the second book by Reymundo Sanchez called "Once a King always a king" Deffinatly a great book!

5-0 out of 5 stars BEST book I EVER read!!!
Living in a neighborhood with Latin Kings, just like "Reymundo" I picked up the book and read it from reading the first page i was hooked. It took me about a month to read it, and enjoyed evry page of it! It's not like anything i ever read and was interesting because I could relate. VERY GOOD BOOK! ... Read more

13. Monster : Autobiography of an L.A. Gang Member, The
by Sanyika Shakur
list price: $13.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140232257
Catlog: Book (1998-01-01)
Publisher: Penguin Books
Sales Rank: 24422
Average Customer Review: 4.68 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

After pumping eight blasts from a sawed-off shotgun at a group of rival gang members, eleven-year-old Kody Scott was initiated into the L.A. gang the Crips. He quickly matured into one of the most formidable Crip combat soldiers, earning the name Monster for committing acts of brutality and violence that repulsed even his fellow gang members. When the inevitable jail term confined him to a maximum-security cell, Scott channeled his aggression and drive into educating himself. A complete political and personal transformation followed: from Monster to Sanyika Shakur, black nationalist, member of the New Afrikan Independence movement, and crusader against the causes of gangsterism. In a document that has been compared to The Autobiography of Malcolm X and Eldridge Cleaver’s Soul on Ice, Shakur makes palpable the despair and decay of America’s inner cities and gives eloquent voice to one aspect of the black ghetto experience today. ... Read more

Reviews (127)

5-0 out of 5 stars Monster:Autobiography of an LA gang member review
I have read this book a number of times and it still does not fail to capture me. I have never read a book that involves its reader from start to finish as this does. Sanyika Shakur takes us on the path of his life from the age of 11 in the most graphic detail. Being from England, nothing could prepare me for the way of life Kody Scott had to live, a life of violent crime and also of belonging. It was good to see Kody realise his faults and turn into a muslim but unfortunate to hear that he returned to jail on a parole violation.

5-0 out of 5 stars Amazingly real and gritty to the end
I have read Monster:Autobiography of an LA gang member six times now, the cover is battered and tatty from carrying it around on numerous journeys with me - yet I would still read it again. When I first read this book I couldn't put it down, it was so real. From the first page I was a crip through and hrough true blue. I felt a part of every scene that was written about. It is good to read the truth in black and white from the inside out rather than the outside in. I feel that Leon Bing tried to capture some of this reality in Do or Die but when you mask out people's names or edit the stories it doesn't captivate the reader as much. When you read this book Kody Scott becomes a part of your life, as though you are his sidekick. You begin to understand gangbanging in its every capacity. One of the saddest moments in the book for me is when Monster has undergone his change and finally visits his roaddog 'Crazy D' in jail. Athough Crazy D is serving life with no parole he is still down for the crips but that bond has been broken with Monster. I would recommend this book to any gang member or wannabe just for keeping it real without the bragaddocio

4-0 out of 5 stars Monster
Monster is a very interesting book that takes place in a harsh enviroment. Monster, a well known cript L.A. gang member survives very exciting and dangerous real-life gang-banging, drive-bys and much more. I enjoyed this book although it is not for everyone. There is a lot of cursing, violence (not too bad), and adult content.

2-0 out of 5 stars Mr. Innocent or Society Made Me Pull the Trigger
This autobiography does not lend itself well to being rated, since it basically consists of two different parts. The first one is a fascinating and insightful description of a childhood and a youth spent in one of the country's most gang-ridden and dangerous neighborhoods, South Central L.A. This part deserves four stars. The second one is an endless tirade of how society has done the author wrong. This part deserves none. As a result, I could not give the book more than two stars.
Kody Scott tells with verve how he grew up to become one of L.A.'s most notorious teenage gangsters. A shocking and frightening account of boys gone mad, killing other kids for the mere fact of wearing the wrong color, or living on the wrong street corner. What sets Kody's story apart is the fact that he is a first-person narrator (albeit, it seems, with the help of a professional writer), whereas other authors have based their books about gang-life on observations and interviews. As a result, readers will learn more from Kody about gang members' motivations and feelings than they ever could from an author who has not been affiliated with gang-life him- or herself.
However, the second part of the book, Kody's description of his life in prison and his conversion to a black nationalist, is downright pathetic. He constantly blames others for the choices he made in life: His parents he calls "promiscuous" and "irresponsible", society ("the system") he accuses of "oppressing every person of color". The horrible acts of violence he has committed he plays down as "wrongdoings ... things that were morally wrong based on the human code of ethics". He tries to make his readers believe that there is an automatism: Every kid from a poor neighborhood will invariably end up as a gang member. However, why then, I would like to know, are kids mentioned throughout the book who choose not (!) to join a gang. And finally, he constantly complains about life in prison ("nothing ... could explain this level of action to me"), as if he had just run a red light or stolen a candy bar. He demands respect, but he doesn't give any (cops and prison guards he calls "pigs" and "Nazi-types").
The saddest thing of it all is this: Kody obviously revels in the attention and applause he has received from journalists and book critics. However, he overlooks that this praise is only lavished on him because he "only" ran amok in South Central. Had he gone to the suburbs and shot kids there, the same people would have called for his head. Considering the fact that Kody is a self-proclaimed Afrikan, I find his disregard for the lives and the well-being of his fellow African-Americans quite astonishing.

5-0 out of 5 stars A good read for people of all ages.
This is an well written book about life and death, love and hate, and self discovery. ... Read more

14. Joey the Hit Man : The Autobiography of a Mafia Killer (Adrenaline Classics Series)
by Joey Fisher
list price: $14.95
our price: $14.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1560253932
Catlog: Book (2002-04-01)
Publisher: Thunder's Mouth Pr
Sales Rank: 395832
Average Customer Review: 3.22 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Following up on the success of the Adrenaline title Mob: Stories of Death and Betrayal from Organized Crime, Adrenaline Classics brings back the New York Times bestseller (originally published as Killer) that helped pave the way for the latest generation of nouveau-mob stories, from Donnie Brasco to The Sopranos. “Joey”—a journeyman Jewish hitman, numbers king, and loan shark—collaborated with David Fisher (co-editor of the hit Adrenaline title Wild Blue) to lay out the rackets in gripping detail. His story includes detailed accounts of his chillingly “professional” murders of thirty-eight victims. The strong sales of Mob are further evidence that the best mafia stories—and this is one of the best—capture the public’s interest. Joey the Hitman’s original best-seller status reflects the quality of the writing, the frank intelligence of the subject/writer, and Joey’s convincingly matter-of-fact, regular-guy tone. When he writes, debunking The Godfather, “... Actually very few mob members even have Bronx-Italian accents ... a lot of mob people are not very tough, the people we meet and deal with are very ordinary, most of us stay home at night and watch TV, and we only shoot each other when absolutely necessary,” you know you’re listening to the original Soprano. This edition includes a new afterword from David Fisher, who for the first time reveals Joey's identity and the incredible story of how Joey finally died. ... Read more

Reviews (9)

4-0 out of 5 stars Joey is not the most important factor
Joeys existence is not the most important or fun factor of this book. The most interesting aspect is the detailed description of normal everyday mob activities. Gambling , Loansharking , bribery. This book was a very interesting introduction into what the mafia is really like. I enjoyed every page and stopped reading the book I was reading prior because I became hooked to this one. A very good book if your interested in the complexities of playing the numbers , loan sharking or any mob activities. Worth the $$$ as much as any book.

4-0 out of 5 stars Authentic, gripping.
A solid depiction of life in the Mob, at least as it was thirty and more years ago. Not all of "Joey's" anecdotes are necessarily true, and it's hard to say how many were exagerrated or fabricated. But it definitely has an aura of authenticity. It strips away a lot of the glamor of organized crime, which is why this book disappoints some readers, but I would put it up there with Wiseguys and Born to Steal as the best books on the Mob in recent years.

1-0 out of 5 stars Like a visit to the Dentist
This has to be one of the most boring books about the mafia in publication. Joey becomes a grind to finish after the first chapter but since I bought it I figured I might as well finish it. There was nothing in the book that held the readers attention, it was monotonous.If I borrowed money from Joey and was late I would pay him just to avoid being bored to death by our pal Joey. Joey was not a member of the mafia he was an associate. I think if I were in the mafia and a street soldier I would ask my capo to take my mafia membership card away rather than work with my pal Joey. This book was not worth the tree that was cut down to have it written. I would judge the book as a minus 10 but you dont go that far.

5-0 out of 5 stars a good read, [imitation] or not....
I'm not sure if "Joey" is a real guy or what, but the book was quite entertaining regardless. It details the life of a mafia hit-man. Each chapter tends to deal with a differnt aspect of the mafia and how they impacted his life. I found it an enjoyable read, and would recommend it to someone with interst in the mafia.

2-0 out of 5 stars Joey the Hitman not a hit.
Joey the Hitman started out with much potential, but as the book went on it became repetitive and boring. The only parts I liked was when he told about his own experiences, rather than how the schemes that organized crime use work.

Aside from that the book didn't tell me anything I haven't already read about the 'mafia'. At the time of its release it was probably very informative, but not these days. The worst part of his style is how he would explain how a particular aspect works, then explain it the exact same way in an example only adding names. I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone. ... Read more

15. Squeaky : The Life & Times Of Lynette Alice Fromme - Runaway (Buzz Books)
by Jess Bravin
list price: $25.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312156634
Catlog: Book (1997-05-15)
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Sales Rank: 235836
Average Customer Review: 4.38 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (16)

4-0 out of 5 stars An Odd Subject Well-Handled
Lynette Fromme is a rather obscure figure to merit a lengthy biography, but Bravin's book is worth the read for anyone interested in the cult mentality. While the most famous book about the Manson Family is Vincent Bugliosi's excellent "Helter Skelter," that book focuses on the crimes, not the creed. Here, Bravin shows us how an intelligent middle-class teenager could be drawn into a quasi-religion based on violence, drugs, and racism.
Also unlike "Helter Skelter," Bravin's book tells what happened later, that the Manson Family did not end with Manson's incarceration. Fromme and other charter Family devotees like Sandra Good are still devoted to their guru, and Bravin traces the strange course of their small sect.

5-0 out of 5 stars an excellent read!
egad! did kirkus (from kirkus reviews) and i just read the same book? he writes that the most "compelling material" in this book is that phil hartman knew squeaky in high school. wow! and they even had a class together. big deal. this compelling material takes up less than one paragraph in a book of 401 pages. this book is about squeaky and her years with manson -- and the years that followed after charlie's being sent to jail. squeaky is herself a radical environmentalist and makes a strong case for her cause, the protection of the environment that is. i found her a complicated and intriguing person. if your interested in the life and times of squeaky fromme you will get a very clear picture by reading this book

4-0 out of 5 stars Most grounded book pertaining to the "Manson family" yet
I've always thought you have to take anything thats been written about the so called "Manson family", whether pro or anti Manson, with a huge grain of salt. This book requires less salt than anything I've read pertaining to the "Manson family" to date.

The author paints a very sympathetic picture of Fromme. I think the angle he is getting at is Manson was able to influence Fromme because she was looking for a Father figure type because her dad was emotionally abusive, neglectful and he strongly implies that Squeaky was sexually abused by him. (which Fromme has denied is true) He also does a lot to show and explain the environmental/ecological activism and theories of the "Manson family", which I found interesting and a lot more well grounded than Bugliosi's screwy "helter skelter" theory. The environmental issues were the main focus and obsession of the "Manson family", not "helter skelter" in my own personal opinion.

I'm giving this book 4 stars, I'm leaning toward giving it 5 but some the stuff on her trial for attempted murder on former President Gerald Ford drags a little, although some of Frommes wacky courtroom behaviour during the trial is amusing. I personally do not believe she had any intention on shooting Ford either, she was just was trying to draw attention to the environmental issues she was obsessed with.

5-0 out of 5 stars The girl who ran, and ran too far...
This is a compelling and very informative portrait of one of the more vocal female members of the Manson family, would-be presidential assassin Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme. In late 1969, when Charles Manson and four others were imprisoned for the brutal murders of nine people, Squeaky Fromme became the leader of the Manson clan in Charlie's absence and took to the streets, holding daily vigils outside the courthouse with the other family members who weren't imprisoned. In 1975, while living in Sacramento and preaching about the destruction of the environment with friend Sandra Good, Squeaky aimed a gun at then-president Gerald Ford. In prison for life, this novel details her early life as a dancer with the Westchester Lariats in Redondo Beach, California, her notable High School days, and finally how and when she met Manson and was seduced by his off-the-wall ideologies. It gives an incredible day-by-day account of her highly-publicized trial in which it was to be decided whether or not she actually meant to kill the president. Although not for everyone, this book is a must for true-crime fans and those who want to know what made this fascinating woman tick.

4-0 out of 5 stars Well documented book on Lynette Alice "Squeaky" Fromme
This book chronicles the life of Lynette Alice "Squeaky" Fromme from her childhood years, her time with Manson, her attempted assissination attempt of Pres. Ford, and her subsequent trial.

The updated version of the book has a "section" from Squeaky herself. The majority of the book, though, was written without her cooperation. Some "members" of the family gave input into this book as well, including Sandra Good, and RuthAnn Morehouse.

A great book to read not only if you want to learn more about Lynette Fromme, but also to get a grasp on the turbulant times of the 60's and 70's. ... Read more

16. A Pirate of Exquisite Mind: Explorer, Naturalist, and Buccaneer : The Life of William Dampier
by Diana Preston, Michael Preston
list price: $27.00
our price: $17.82
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0802714250
Catlog: Book (2004-04-01)
Publisher: Walker & Company
Sales Rank: 5817
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars Far more than a pirate story
Why should this wonderfully written book not only be read by those who admire Captain Cook, or who just enjoy seafarer and pirate stories? Answer: the Prestons' book offers much more. In Dampier, the Prestons have revived a man who found his bliss and passion in observing nature. And, who, in the company of primitive and brutal sailors, under exhausting conditions, hunger and illness, never ceased studying, and reflecting on, his observations of nature. His greatest good was not money or jewels - it was his extensive notes that he saved through ship wreckage and other incredible hardships of a twelve-year long journey around the world. Preceding Cook, Banks and Darwin by nearly a century, Dampier may be considered the first in this lineage. The book describes the man and what became of him - a person who started out to realize his bliss, not helped by a cozy grant or sponsorship but as a semi-legalized pirate. Thus, "The Pirate of Exquisite Mind" is a book for those who enjoy a meticulously researched, well-told story, but especially for those who admire the powers that develop from a deeply internalized vocation. Dampier wouldn't have survived without that.

5-0 out of 5 stars Dampier's amazing life ably told
On the heels of her seminal work on the Lusitania, Diana Preston (this time with her husband as co-author) has brought back to life the extraordinary pirate/naturalist William Dampier.
This story would not work as fiction as it would be dismissed as unrealistic. Dampier circumnavigated the world alongside pirates engaged in plundering, raping and killing. During his journeys Dampier found time to record observations of flora and fauna, animals of all descriptions, currents and native peoples. He was also a geographer and surveyor.
It may seem an understatement to say that Dampier was a man ahead of his times. Not only did Dampier take copious notes; he took good ones. Dampier was a dedicated and skilled "reporter". He was the first European to make observations of various animals, plants and places, coining a few words and terms to boot. His sensitivy towards and respect for indigenous people was in sharp contrast to the prevailing racist attitudes common among most 17th century Europeans.
Dampier's travels took him to the Caribbean, Virginia, Central America, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand Indonesia, and the Philippines, just to name a few locales. His pirating days eventually gave way to more legitimate if no less risky adventures, including serving the British navy. It was in his role as central leader of expeditions that we finally see a man who, like the rest of us, is flawed. Dampier became, not surprisingly, a noted author whose observations influenced generations to come, perhaps most notably Captain James Cook and Charles Darwin.
Happily, the Prestons are up to the task of telling Dampier's story. Their account of Dampier's life is richly detailed, paying the proper respect to his scientific discoveries and observations while spinning exciting yarns of pirates at their swashbuckling best. The Prestons make a valuable addition to the growing body of work depicting sea life in days of yore. The harsh and filthy reality of shipboard is laid bare and the reader is treated to an account of a shipboard cure for constipation which will leave one squirming.
This is a thoroughly entertaining story and an important book in understanding both the Age of Exploration and the Englightenment. One eagerly awaits the Preston's next work.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Book of Exquisite Value
Finally, Diana and Michael Preston have rescued this lonely castaway of history. "A Pirate of Exquisite Mind" is the first thorough, contemporary biography of Dampier. Handsome, enigmatic, controversial in life and a virtual shadow since his death almost 300 years ago, Dampier has until now never been properly accorded the recognition he deserves. But he is a quintessential anti-hero, a man who could write expertly of ocean winds and currents, and who witnessed tortured, dying Spanish prisoners being thrown into those currents.

There have been other biographies of Dampier, but this is the first that discusses his life as an extension of the customs and mores of his time. When Dampier takes the mysterious and elusive "Judith" as his wife, the Prestons devote several paragraphs to discussion of a typical marriage ceremony, as well as the very liberal sexual attitudes of late 17th century London. This liberality extends as well to the buccaneers, many of whom maintained homosexual relationships, in addition to sharing their women. Additionally, the Prestons get inside Dampier's mind, speculating on the motivations that compelled him to do certain "unsavory" things, though which Dampier was understandably reticent to reveal in his books. For instance, when Dampier makes the crucial decision to follow his companions in joining his first buccaneer expedition in 1679, Dampier wrote that since he was "left alone...I was more easily persuaded to go with them too." But the Prestons are keen enough to recognize that "Dampier probably knew in advance whom he would meet at Negril Bay - a favorite buccaneer haunt - even if he did not admit this in his book." Their recognition of Dampier's hidden motives provides a narrative flow that was missing in Dampier's own writings, adding color and connecting the disparate episodes in his life.

The Prestons relied heavily on Dampier's own writings (most of what we know about Dampier comes from his books). But in addition to reading about where Dampier voyaged, they traced Dampier's exhaustive journeys around the globe (albeit under more modern circumstances) to give their biography both flavor and authenticity. They also plundered the vaults of the British Library, Royal Society, and public record offices for original sources, and painstakingly made comparisons of Dampier's massive draft manuscript with his later published work. Again, this exactitude and depth of research separates this biography from any that have come before. We not only learn about the incidents of Dampier's life, but we get a glimpse at his motivations and thought processes.

We also learn about the society in which Dampier lived. We learn the differences between privateering, buccaneering, and piracy. How did late 17th-century London view buccaneering? Not too favorably, which is one of the reasons why Dampier's legacy was tainted early on. There was certainly a dark side to Dampier. He was a poor leader, clashed openly with his men, and there were accusations of beatings. He failed in a later mission to circumnavigate Australia, his ship floundered off Ascension Island, and he was eventually court-martialed. A later privateering expedition headed by Dampier ended in disaster. On his last expedition, he was relegated to the role of navigator. Like so many other contradictory giants of history, he died in obscurity, and his burial spot is unknown.

William Dampier was the only "pirate" to have had his portrait made. When the Prestons were in the midst of their research, they visited the British Library to view the original painting done by Thomas Murray in the 1690s. Since then, so few people have been interested in Dampier that the curator at the library had to actually dig out the painting from the basement and remove the dust. If there is any justice in this world, the publication of "A Pirate of Exquisite Mind" will ensure that the portrait of William Dampier remains on full display for the world to see.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Real life Pirate's Tale with lots of Swashbuckling Action
Within these pages is a wealth of compelling information about a fascinating bygone age. William Dampier was a scientist, pioneer and writer whose influence is still being felt today, despite the fact that he is less remembered than many of the other bold thinkers of his time.

Yet what got me the most excited in this book by the Prestons was the in-depth exploration of the pirate world. This book provides riveting insight into a world that previously seemed mythical: the pirates of the Caribbean. The Prestons dramatically show how these swashbuckling societies developed, functioned and crumbled, as well as the economic and political forces that brought about these events.

This is the inspirational story of a man who pushed himself -- striving to go beyond his time's intellectual and geographical limits.

5-0 out of 5 stars Long overdue and an Exquisite Book
If you have an interest in the buccaneers, or in the expansion of the British Empire, or in natural history, or seafaring in the days of sail, this is required reading. If you are interested in the world when a voyage could take years and many men never came back, a world where the broadside and the sword were master, this book is for you. It's entertaining, educational, inspirational, and has a sweep seldom found. I wish I could rate the book higher than 5 stars. Dampier I would rate ten. ... Read more

17. True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa
by Michael Finkel
list price: $25.95
our price: $17.13
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 006058047X
Catlog: Book (2005-05-24)
Publisher: HarperCollins
Sales Rank: 697
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Book Description

In the haunting tradition of Joe McGinniss's Fatal Vision and Mikal Gilmore's Shot in the Heart, True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa weaves a spellbinding tale of murder, love, and deceit with a deeply personal inquiry into the slippery nature of truth.

The story begins in February of 2002, when a reporter in Oregon contacts New York Times Magazine writer Michael Finkel with a startling piece of news. A young, highly intelligent man named Christian Longo, on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list for killing his entire family, has recently been captured in Mexico, where he'd taken on a new identity -- Michael Finkel of the New York Times.

The next day, on page A-3 of the Times, comes another bit of troubling news: a note, written by the paper's editors, explaining that Finkel has falsified parts of an investigative article and has been fired. This unlikely confluence sets the stage for a bizarre and intense relationship. After Longo's arrest, the only journalist the accused murderer will speak with is the real Michael Finkel. And as the months until Longo's trial tick away, the two men talk for dozens of hours on the telephone, meet in the jailhouse visiting room, and exchange nearly a thousand pages of handwritten letters.

With Longo insisting he can prove his innocence, Finkel strives to uncover what really happened to Longo's family, and his quest becomes less a reporting job than a psychological cat-and-mouse game -- sometimes redemptively honest, other times slyly manipulative. Finkel's pursuit pays off only at the end, when Longo, after a lifetime of deception, finally says what he wouldn't even admit in court -- the whole, true story. Or so it seems.

... Read more

18. The Gold Ring : Jim Fisk, Jay Gould, and Black Friday, 1869
by Kenneth D. Ackerman
list price: $15.95
our price: $10.85
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0786714425
Catlog: Book (2005-02-09)
Publisher: Carroll & Graf
Sales Rank: 806768
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In The Gold Ring, Capitol Hill veteran Kenneth D. Ackerman tells the story of two dazzling con men who rose to the top of the Erie Railway Company before fixing their ambitions on a scam so great it would make them two of the richest men in America-and cement their reputation as two of the most corrupt. They were Jay Gould, the ruthless self-promoter who came to be recognized as the most hated, if brilliant, man of his generation, and his partner, the extravagant showman Jim Fisk, whose insatiable indulgences finally led to his demise. Featuring a cast of supporting characters that includes Boss Tweed, Albert Cardozo, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and Ulysses S. Grant, The Gold Ring evokes an age of scandal and depravity in the world of high finance that makes today's climate of corporate excess and deception seem positively tame by comparison. Featuring numerous historic photographs, this is a compelling and fiercely entertaining insight into Wall Street's early years. ... Read more

Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great book.
I loved reading this account of the money game in old New York played by the masters Fisk and Gould. The story was gripping and the themes amazingly relevant to today. ... Read more

19. Running Scared: The Life and Treacherous Times of Las Vegas Casino King Steve Wynn
by John L. Smith
list price: $15.00
our price: $10.20
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1568581904
Catlog: Book (2001-03-02)
Publisher: Four Walls Eight Windows
Sales Rank: 75807
Average Customer Review: 2.81 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Steve Wynn is the former owner of the Bellagio - Las Vegas's latest monument to conspicuous consumption whose hotel and casino contain over $300 million in fine art and $1.5 billion in Wall Street money. He's a mogul whose empire at one point included the Mirage, the Golden Nugget, and Treasure Island. But how did he gain and wield his tremendous power in Nevada? And why did a confidential Scotland Yard report prevent him from opening a casino in London? When this biography, written by a local reporter, was first released in 1995, Steve Wynn brought suit against its original publisher and forced him into bankruptcy. Now available in paperback, the inside story of the biggest phenomenon to roil Las Vegas since Hoover Dam gives readers an intimate glimpse at the real business that's conducted beyond the gaming tables. ... Read more

Reviews (16)

2-0 out of 5 stars "Running Scared" is running on empty
This book reads like what it is -- a quick 300 pages cranked out by a Vegas journalist familiar with the subject, commissioned by a publisher with a rich history of wallowing in libel. The preface admits as much. The publisher proudly proclaims on the book jacket, "Steve Wynn has already sued the author of this book and its publisher twice...." Indeed, the book leaves you wondering if getting sued by Steve Wynn was the whole point of this book, and is the only notoriety this tabloid volume would ever have received.

The author does himself and the reader a great disservice with his vague source citations. The book lists a great many books, interviews, and court records, but unfortunately these sources are listed as a group at the end of the book and aren't footnoted throughout the text. This makes it impossible to discern the specific source for any of the claims in the book.

Most disappointingly, the book fails to give a satisfying biography of its subject. Most of the more fascinating business maneuvers in Wynn's career are sadly glossed over, leaving you with more questions than answers. How exactly did Wynn make so much money buying and selling a small lot on the corner of Caesar's? Exactly how did Wynn leverage control of the Golden Nugget? This book won't really tell you. All too often you'll have to be happy with the answer than Wynn "knew somebody".

I kept up hope for this book (having already read other damning customer reviews), but ultimately I found this book disappointing. It seemed unnecessarily condemning of Wynn -- if he's a crook, the facts should speak for themselves, and the author needn't pursue it so doggedly. This book seems only to prove that Wynn works in a business with a lot of shady peers, and that Wynn doesn't seem to mind it. What a surprise.

2-0 out of 5 stars Inaccurate and biased
I have always had a fascination with Steve Wynn's hotels and was looking to learn more about him when I came across this book. However, after reading Mr. Smith's depictions of Steve Wynn, the only thing I know for sure is that Smith REALLY doesn't like Steve Wynn. He criticized his every move, looking only at the negative "hidden agendas" associated with things such as the Mirage Dolphins and the Bellagio Art Gallery that the rest of the world is grateful that Steve Wynn brought to us. He repeatedly tries to link Wynn to the mob, but can never make a convincing arguement. He only briefly touches on the building of the hotels, their success, and fails to mention how the Mirage, Treasure Island, and the Bellagio were innovators in three different generations of Vegas theme hotels. Despite the books 2001 copyright date, is now about 9 years out of date. It pre-dates the MGM-Mirage merger, and even cites the Fremont Street Experience as being "set to open in late 1995." A postscript to the paperback edition attempts to bring it up to date, but it feels rushed, with misspelled words and inaccurate details.

Smith seems to have about 100 pages of relevant information, and 254 pages of stories that are so loosely linked to Wynn that at times I forgot who I was reading about. Smith goes so far as to imply that the deterioration of the UNLV basketball program is due to Steve Wynn deciding that Jerry Tarkanian projected the wrong image for the university and that he had to go.

In addition to the anti-Wynn take on every story, Smith illustrates some stories with details that aren't even accurate. He implies that opening the Bellagio was a huge risk because of the increased competition for the "well-heeled gambler market" with the opening of the Venetian, Paris and Mandalay Bay in the ensuing years since the Mirage opening, implying that the market Wynn was seeking was already captured by these hotels. This seems to be a viable argument, until you realize that those three hotels opened AFTER the Bellagio's October 1998 opening.

Smith's writing is often biased. He frequently quotes his employer, the Las Vegas Review-Journal positively, and their rival newspaper, the Las Vegas Sun, negatively. Smith apparantly is not interested in providing an accurate portrayal of Wynn. Rather, he seems content try to pull every skeleton out of his closet, no matter how big of a stretch it is, to bring down Wynn's image. No wonder Wynn didn't want this book published.

If you are a Las Vegas history buff like me, there are a couple of interesting tidbits, but if you are looking for an accurate biography of Steve Wynn, this is not it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Courage in the Face of Expensive Legal Bullying
Mr. Smith and his publisher are heroes of journalism for publishing the well-researched truth about someone who did everything he could to scare them into giving up.

1-0 out of 5 stars Guilt By Association
A recent pleasure trip to Las Vegas turned into a business adventure. A walk down the strip suddenly became a research project to analyze the 'Vegas Experience'. In the midst of gathering artifacts, casual conversations with long-time locals (a construction traffic director and a security guard -- both over 15 year residents) revealed a theme central to their blue collar perspective of the city: a great respect for a man by the name of Steve Wynn.

Even his employees were faultlessly loyal to him. The curator of his art collection, a retired professor of art history, willingly suggested that Steve knew far more about art than even he.

These things I discovered all in less than 6 hours. I bought this book in the hopes of learning more about the man. Rare instances of Wynn-specific information could be found (only by skipping large chunks of irrelevant stories). This book smacks of irresponsible journalism.

It seems as if Mr. Smith became a journalist in Las Vegas because of a penchant for sensational stories. Akin to the phenomena of the 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon, this was the 2 degrees of Steve Wynn. John Smith took a number of sensational stories about events in Las Vegas and 'used' (also to be taken in a pejorative context) Steve Wynn as the thread to tie them together: guilt by association.

This was a thinly veiled attempt to write 'yet another' collection of mob stories (and other notable local mysterious events) while extorting Steve Wynn's name to secure new interest and sales.

I picture Mr. Smith being able to pull off a story portraying Mother Teresa as a devious opportunist. Mr. Smith's preposterous suppositions, called a book, might have been more appropriately titled: Running Scarred.

To find the story about Steve Wynn that I was looking for I may have to research and write it myself.

3-0 out of 5 stars Relentless Slam Job of Steve Wynn
I read this book with an open mind - my only prior knowledge of Steve Wynn was that he was the guy that built the Mirage, Treasure Island and Bellagio - the Mirage having ushered in the new era of modern luxury casino hotels in Vegas, and the $1.6 billion dollar Bellagio having upped the ante.
That said, I can see why Steve Wynn fought so hard to prevent this book from being released. Wynn sued the the original publisher and apparently helped force it into bankruptcy.
Any reader of this book will likely come away believing that:
1) Wynn rubbed elbows with mob figures, and may have served as a front man in some of his early dealings, before he accrued enough juice on his own,
2) Wynn leveraged his money-making capacity into a large measure of control over the local and state government and judiciary,
3) Wynn is an egomaniac,
4) Wynn kicks puppies....
You get the idea. Although the book makes a fair attempt at biography, its real purpose is to be an expose'. After 350 pages, it has the effect of beating a dead horse.
Wynn may indeed be all of those things, and certainly some of the things he's accused of could result in the loss of his Gaming License - although it seems Nevada is far too invested in him to ever let that happen. I wish there was a more balanced, well-rounded account of Steve Wynn's story out there. ... Read more

20. Once a King, Always a King : The Unmaking of a Latin King
by Reymundo Sanchez
list price: $16.95
our price: $11.53
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1556525532
Catlog: Book (2004-10-28)
Publisher: Chicago Review Press
Sales Rank: 43559
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

This riveting sequel to My Bloody Life traces Reymundo Sanchez’s struggle to create a “normal” life outside the Latin Kings, one of the nation's most notorious street gangs, and to move beyond his past. Sanchez illustrates how the Latin King motto “once a king, always a king” rings true and details the difficulty and danger of leaving that life behind. Filled with heart-pounding scenes of his backslide into drugs, sex, and violence, Once a King, Always a King recounts how Sanchez wound up behind bars and provides an engrossing firsthand account of how the Latin Kings are run from inside the prison system. Harrowing testaments to Sanchez’s determination to rebuild his life include his efforts to separate his family from gang life and his struggle to adapt to marriage and the corporate world. Despite temptations, nightmares, regressions into violence, and his own internal demons, Sanchez makes an uneasy peace with his new life. This raw, powerful, and brutally honest memoir traces the transformation of an accomplished gangbanger into a responsible citizen.
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Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars Not just for those invloved in a gang
After reading Reymundo Sanchez's first book "My Bloody Life", i wanted to know more. I was excited when i heard there was a second autobiography! This was a great book, and needless to say, i finished it two days! Yes, there is excitement from the beginning to the end, but this isnt a book only for those involved in a gang or associated with that lifestyle. Reymundo reminds us ALL that with hardwork and determination, you too can succeed. Enjoy.

5-0 out of 5 stars AMOR DE REY TO A TRUE KING
the book titled once a king always a king chronicles my homeboy reymundo sanchez's aftermath after a ruthless killing in humboldt park following his violation out of the Latin Kings. Being a King myself i feel that the nation at the time of king lil locos violation, took a turn for the worst when everyone lost their thirst and love for the manifesto, Big things like self respect, death before dishonor, and drug abuse became very hypocritically viewed by older brothers in the nation, thus setting the entire youth of the up and comming nation ablaze,King lil loco pointed this out when he was incarcerated in this book when he sat with an older king who was taken by Locos drive and desires. Its a goddamn shame that the only kings around who actually know whats going on are locked up. So thats why as a hard working latino who is serving his country in the middle east in a war that nobody back home appreciates, I take pride in everything that i do. I mean hell if i had to go back to my roots...and bring my roots into my life that i am living today, Id have every one of my latin brothers and sisters out here with me throwing up king love and respecting each other, But refering back to loco's new profession in corporate america, people are just as cutthroat in this profession as they are in Gangs. Call me stuck in my old ways or whatever the hell you wish. But i am a king who was brought into the nation by those who believed in restoring the nation back into the respectful organization that everyone used to love and adore. I believe one day i will rise and conquer from this crap im out here doing for my country, and continue to prosper back in my old neighborhood and become a mentor for the kids comming up in the streets i grew up in. Im all about getting the kids involved with school, sports, and being active in thier society....Proactive i mean. I hit alot of bumps on my road to becoming the respect worthy individual i am today. But reading this book showed me that anything is possible for anybody who has the heart to fight....for those who are tired of struggling....for those who can take no more and wish to fight for themselves....Im saying that the world is infinate for those who possess inner motivation. weather this be pain and sorrow combined with heartlessness, you can channel this all into something positive if you live for a brighter day. And on that note i would just love to say to my brother reymundo sanchez: Thank you for living for a brighter day, its because of you that i now think in a brighter way. Amor de rey my brother. and even though your older and have your family and something to live for, Its because of stories like yours that make it possible for me to spread the word of a better nation of latinos in my community, I plan on taking my streets back in a possitive way when i get home. I thank you for your strengths and also your confrontations of your weaknesses-"the mark of a real man" To all those reading this review if you are from a background similar reymundo's as well as my own. then i suggest you read this book. Weather you be in the lifestyle, or on the outside looking in.Lil Loco's story is extremly compelling and love everybody, and to all my kings educated in the old ways reading this...Amor de rey....and remember....The true meanings of the manifesto are lost, not forgotton...1
~king5150~ \^/\^/360 worldwide

5-0 out of 5 stars outstanding
i never read a book i always got to page 1 and put it down but once i seen my older brother reading and so into the book i started to read it. When i was reading it i felt like i was there it was so cool i hope some day the people in the streets read this book to see how much he has been throgh and how much you could go throgh if you join a gang. i have learn alot reading this book. I'm not going to mess up like he did.i'll give this book 10 stars **********

5-0 out of 5 stars All the King's Horses and All the King's Men...
"I just want to know why me,!" Reymundo Sanchez wails during an explosive argument with his estranged sister about how, as a child, he suffered years of abuse at the hands of their mother. That question, which occurs about two-thirds of the way through this sorrowful memoir, haunts every page of this book, and indeed seems to have been the theme of much of Mr. Sanchez's scarred, young life.

Born in 1963 to a 16-year-old mother and a 74-year-old father in the hilltop village of Cayey, Puerto Rico, Sanchez (a nom de guerre) survived being raped and beaten by his 18-year-old cousin at age five. After his father died, his mother quickly remarried, decamped Puerto Rico, and moved the family to Chicago. There, Sanchez suffered another wave of physical and psychological torment from his mother and stepfather (and, subsequently, a third father figure named "Pedro") while his sisters seemed to escape much, if not all, of the mistreatment. At 13, Sanchez found himself alone on the mean streets of Chicago, after his mother cast him out of the family home.

By the mid-1970s, the Latin Kings had established themselves as a highly organized megagang in Chicago, and their mantra "Amor de Rey" ("King Love") seemed to hold the promise of a better, if not love-filled existence for Sanchez, who quickly joined. To his dismay, though, he found only further violence and ruinous relationships in his newly adopted "family." Still, as a gang member, there were other castaways with whom he could relate, and although he hated what was required of him to maintain his membership, at least he felt a sense of belonging.

Eventually, even the brotherhood of the Kings proved to be an illusion, and for the next ten blood-splattered years, Sanchez existed at the fringes of society on the unkindness of strangers and on a steady diet of alcohol, cocaine, and loveless sex. In the name of the Latin Kings, he also returned to society much of the brutality that had been inflicted upon him, by participating in the usual gang fare of beatings, shootings, and other acts of violence and revenge.

Most of these events are chronicled in Sanchez's first book, My Bloody Life: The Making of a Latin King (Chicago Review Press, 2000), a savage record of a young immigrant's cold life on the streets, whose hopeful finale had Sanchez quitting the Latin Kings and thinking ahead to college.

In this tortured sequel, Sanchez lets us know that that is not how things turned out.

Like Michael Corleone in The Godfather, Part III, Sanchez proved no match for the lure of la familia, and was pulled back into the thick of the Latin Kings" lucrative drug trade, despite numerous attempts to stay out. He acknowledges that trying to give up gang life "is like trying to quit an addiction."

After he was arrested and convicted on a drug trafficking charge, the young gangbanger spent two years in a state prison, which, he says, turned out to be his salvation. Sanchez reports that it was a turning point in his life, and freely admits that, paradoxically, it was his membership in the Latin Kings that afforded him that singular opportunity. He used his time inside to educate himself, to write, and to begin reflecting on all that happened in his life -- this time from an adult perspective, and in relative seclusion.

In a series of emotional hemorrhages, Sanchez resurrects his tangled past, in particular, several ill-starred sexual relationships he had with women he mistook for people who cared, in part, one would imagine, out of a desperate need to relieve his own immense suffering, to feel loved, and to feel, finally, a sense of belonging to someone, anyone. Only in a coda tacked on at the end of the book does he reveal perhaps the real source of his impulsive behavior, and it's as eye-opening as it is troubling.

While the first half of Once a King focuses on Sanchez's misdeeds as a "restored" member of the Latin Kings, the second half centers around his life-redeeming but ultimately ill-fated relationship with a discontented feminist named Marilyn. Marilyn seems to be the first person in Sanchez's life who challenges his intellect, and whom he can trust with the knowledge of his horrific past. It is therefore devastating to Sanchez when she uses his past against him in a heated and ultimately violent exchange that alters their relationship forever. As Sanchez recalls: "The one and only person I had ever opened up to about that experience with my cousin had just used my own words to destroy me."

But destroy him it didn't. In a final chapter titled "Here and Now," Sanchez seems to have achieved another level of self-awareness and acceptance, even if he still seems disquieted about the past. Although his family's lifelong indifference toward him still haunts him, he has come to terms with it.

As a sequel to My Bloody Life, Once a King is best understood in the context of the earlier book. Like its predecessor, it is a somber, intense pathography, but offers a somewhat deeper insight into its author's tender psyche.

Sanchez's narrative style is effortless and evocative; its power lies in the naked honesty with which he chronicles his ultimate deliverance from the past. There are times when it seems he is revealing too much about himself; at other times, it's hard not to want to reach through the page, extract him from the situation he's in, and give him a life-affirming hug. Though the prose has its flaws ("Hearing the name made me mentally reminisce about the old days") and occasional cliches ("I had been robbed of my childhood and young adulthood"), Sanchez hits his mark so often, and with such resonance and candor, that it is easy to forgive him the occasional miss. --Jeff Evans, author of Undoing Time: American Prisoners in Their Own Words

5-0 out of 5 stars Incredibly Real
I enjoy reading, in fact their is nothing that I enjoy more then curling up with a good book. I finished Part I, and when I realized their was a part II I ran to the bookstore and picked it up, this book is amazing, very easy to read, keeps you captivated from the moment you start to reading it, very exciting, and you only wish you can locate his mother and find out why she did the things she did. I am a native of Chicago and very familiar with all of the streets, and even Bellas Pizza, you only wish you could have been around to give the author the love he needed growing up. An excellent book, I highly recommend it. ... Read more

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