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101. Lust Killer (Signet True Crime
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102. Perfect Victim : The True Story
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103. Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People
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104. BLOW: How a Small-Town Boy Made
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105. Made Men: The True Rise-And-Fal
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106. Operatives, Spies, and Saboteurs
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107. Gotti: Rise and Fall
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108. The Encyclopedia of Serial Killers
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109. The Fugitive Game : Online with
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110. The Greatest Firefighter Stories
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111. The Westies
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112. One Deadly Night (St. Martin's
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113. Portrait of a Killer: Jack the
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114. Hell's Angels : A Strange and
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115. Blood Washes Blood: A True Story
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116. Into the Water
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117. Contrabando : Confessions of a
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118. Mafia Dynasty: The Rise and Fall
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119. Women, Murder and Justice
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120. Cook for a Day: Eat for a Month

101. Lust Killer (Signet True Crime S.)
by Ann Rule
list price: $7.99
our price: $7.19
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Asin: 0451166876
Catlog: Book (1995-12-01)
Publisher: Signet Book
Sales Rank: 18162
Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (25)

4-0 out of 5 stars Andy Stack Rule's' terrifying true read!
This was a book that I borrowed from a friend..come to think of it...I still have the book (oops) Anyhow....this was a good book written around the time Rule was making a name for herself as Andy Stack. I read this twice. A sadistic monster responsible for the disappearance of beautiful young women who had full lives ahead of them, and would no doubt have been successful had fate not thrown them in Jerry Brudos' path. Thier thin, beautiful fragile bodies were no match for this physically built stong LUST KILLER...this book made me rethink about going out alone, and thanks to one couragous girl in this story...I learned a thing or two....

4-0 out of 5 stars Pillsbury Doughboy meets Leatherface
Above, best describes Jerry Brudos. A doughy family man who wanders from one job to the next and has a deep hatred for who else? -- his mother. Serial killer after serial killer say they hate their mother. So why do they kill other women? Brudos also likes to wear ladies undies and high heels which makes me wonder why his wife never thought there was more to her husband then just his headaches. I'm not saying that all men who wear women's underwear are serial murderers but I don't understand how Darcie Brudos never followed up on her husbands weird habits. For instance: locking his workshop door and refusing to let her in, telling her to call him from wherever before she could come home, disappearing at all hours, and finding a paperweight that in the shape of a woman's breast. Is it me, or are some people really that naieve? Ann Rule is great at true crime writing and this story holds your interest, I think Jerry got off easy considering that those four women no longer have their lives and their families no longer have them. This book should also serve as a warning to women....BEWARE....we are not as free as we think we are, when we have to worry about our car breaking down or walking in a Mall parking lot where a maniac could be waiting.

4-0 out of 5 stars Rule Rules
I am a recent Ann Rule fan and cannot get enough of her true crime accounts. This is an older one...but still very powerful! In Lust Killer the events take place in the 1960's and 70's in Oregon, but the story is timeless and makes you feel as if it could happen in anywhere, USA.

Hated by his mother as a child (of course), Jerry Brudos grew to hate women, really hate women. Yet, even with that hatred he developed a strong liking for women's shoes and undergarments - but not his mother's. As with many serial killers, Jerry's behaviors started small and almost harmless (stealing undergarments and shoes) and quickly escalated to rape, murder and mutilation and not necessarily in that order.

If not caught, Jerry Brudos would have continued killing for years. What is most horrific about this story is the type of victims he chose and where he found them. They were typical women out in the public eye (a shopping mall, a parking garage) and he was able to attack them, and/or take them and kill them. Some he even took home where his wife was none the wiser.

Ann Rule does an amazing job of developing all the characters in this account. She covers Jerry's miserable childhood, Jerry's family including his wife and children, the victims short lives and the detectives involved in catching this sadistic killer. It is a quick read that will have you looking at every turn when you go in public. For that reason Ann Rule rules!

4-0 out of 5 stars Don't Let The Title Turn You Away
The title is dreadful, like something out of the true-crime magazines where Ann Rule got her start as a writer under the name Andy Stack (the pseudonym under which this book was originally published). But the book itself is compact, powerful, and filled with a kind of terrible sorrow for the destruction of many lives, beginning with Jerry Brudos, whose hateful treatment at the hands of his mother slowly but surely transformed him into a vicious sexual predator, and continuing with his murders of seveal Oregon women and the terrible damage done to their grieving families (the body of his first victim was never even found). Also, the terrible struggle of Brudos' wife Darcy, first with her marriage to a man she loved but began to fear, and finally with the Oregan legal system, which put her on trial as a co-conspirator in her husband's crimes. It is this ability to portray the humanity of the people in this case that transforms what might have simply been a grisly paperback exploitation of human cruelty and misery into a serious and worthwhile book.

4-0 out of 5 stars true story of fetishist turned killer...
'Lust Killer' is one of Ann Rule's earlier true crime books. It doesn't quite reflect the extensive character study of some of her later (and brilliant) works but it does contain perhaps one of her most frightening characters, a man who has a [hang up on] women's garments ... and a true hatred of women. A deadly combination.

The female killing spree happened in Oregon some 30+ years ago but the story feels fresh. This reader was amazed how such horrible atrocities could occur, commited by both a husband and a father. It is unfortunate Ann Rule doesn't delve much into the killer's background, and indeed it seems the author didn't do her usual interviews of family members and related individuals. So 'Lust Killer' has a somewhat abridged feel to it .. and it is indeed one of Ann Rule's shorter books.

Bottom line: ghastly killer, horrible murders. Morbid yet fascinating. ... Read more

102. Perfect Victim : The True Story of "The Girl in the Box" by the D.A. That Prosecuted Her Captor
list price: $6.99
our price: $6.29
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Asin: 0440204429
Catlog: Book (1989-07-01)
Publisher: Dell
Sales Rank: 20921
Average Customer Review: 4.36 out of 5 stars
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Some may find it unbelievable that a20-year-old Oregon woman could beenslaved by asexual sadist for seven years--that even after being ableto move freelyduring the day, she would allow him tolock her into a wooden box every night.Perhapsit's a minorfailing of this book that the authors do not elaborate onthe psychology thatmade her such a "perfect victim."Inother respects, though, the story is welltold, with an impressive accumulation of details: the woman's capture, the tortures sheendured, the brainwashing techniques, the fiendish contraptions her captor constructed,the slave contract he made her sign, and the increasingly strained relations within thepeculiar family that included master, slave, wife, and child, all inside a single-widetrailer.As well-known attorney and author Vincent Bugliosiwrites, "A gripping and disturbing story of the secret life of apparently normalpeople.At once, horrific and engrossing." ... Read more

Reviews (44)

4-0 out of 5 stars Gritty and Real True Crime
"Perfect Victim" tells the bizarre story of a young woman kidnapped while hitchhiking from Oregon to her home in California in 1977. Colleen Stan is sadistically kept prisoner for most of 7 years. She is forced to spend many nights in a small box; a "dungeon" would be too generous a description. She is raped, tortured and just plain denigrated by her captors, Cameron and Jan Hooker. In the process she becomes their virtual slave. Apparently "brainwashed", she ignores opportunities to escape. This is the most difficult part of the plot for the reader to fathom. Why didn't Colleen run? Was she truly brainwashed? This reviewer believes she was, but others will certainly disagree. Suddenly! Colleen is a free woman and the wheels of justice begin to spin. The second half of "PV" is concerned with the arrest and trial of the Hookers. In a special -and positive- twist, a co-author, Christine McGuire, is the prosecutor! As an author, she may favor her position. She takes an obvious shot or two at the defense counsel, but who can blame her, given the low life of a defendant? I firmly believe reviewers should not divulge endings (or how Colleen became "free"), so I will end quickly. "PV" is definitely recommended to true crime devotees. The only drawbacks are the disturbing nature of the plot and the amount of space devoted to the trial. It could have been edited down, but this is a minor detail. Who can blame author McGuire for writing about prosecutor McGuire? It's unclear if "PV" is readily available. My advice is to persist in finding a copy.

5-0 out of 5 stars Truly harrowing even for the most jaded reader and exellentl
This book tells the story of Coleen Stan, the woman who was kidnapped and kept prisoner, most of the time in a coffin size wooden box, by a couple in California. Written by the woman who prosecuted this case the book spares none of the shocking details of the case while still not appearing sensationalistic. It's a riveting and mesmerizing look into the true depths of human evil as well as a testament to the power of the human psyche to survive. One of the best books of its kind I have read!

5-0 out of 5 stars Graphic, Disturbing Story -- Read at your own risk!
This book is a real page-turner; I could not put it down. The trouble is, I regretted having picked it up! The experience this victim went through is so horrifying that I was deeply affected as I read. Reading about such cruelty, imagining myself in the victim's place, I became quite depressed for the few days it took me to finish the book. At first, I thought perhaps I should just close the book and not finish it. But once you start, you really need to see this through to the conclusion. (So did the jurors, apparently. It is remarked in the book that 7 jurors attended the sentencing, although that is rare in most court cases.) So beware -- this is a very intense read.

1-0 out of 5 stars interesting crime, dull is a free synopsis
Everything interesting about this case can be read on the back of the book. In sum, a man with control issues and low self- esteem marries a woman with even lower self-esteem. Together, they kidnap a woman with still LESS self-esteem and keep her in a box off and on for 7 years. The victim enjoys periods of freedom intermittantly but never tries to escape because she has been so completely dominated psychologically.

That is it!!!!!!!!!

There is nothing else interesting about this book......unless you like reading a lot of detail about court testimony, the prosecuter's personal life, expert opinions.

Honestly, I almost could not finish this book it was so dull. Any true crime should focus more narrowly on the psyche of the criminal, but we got almost nothing.

This would have been pretty good condensed to about 25 pages.

4-0 out of 5 stars Very interesting
Written by the Colleens Lawyer, it takes you through the whole crime and court case very thoroughly. Its hard to believe what Colleen went through as a victim but the book does a good job making you see it from all points of view. A great book for those readers who love the terror and love the pyschology behind the captors and the victims. ... Read more

103. Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killing
by James Waller
list price: $29.95
our price: $29.95
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Asin: 0195148681
Catlog: Book (2002-06-01)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Sales Rank: 277125
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Political or social groups wanting to commit mass murder on the basis of racial, ethnic or religious differences are never hindered by a lack of willing executioners. In Becoming Evil, social psychologist James Waller uncovers the internal and external factors that can lead ordinary people to commit extraordinary acts of evil. Waller debunks the common explanations for genocide- group think, psychopathology, unique cultures- and offers a more sophisticated and comprehensive psychological view of how anyone can potentially participate in heinous crimes against humanity.He outlines the evolutionary forces that shape human nature, the individual dispositions that are more likely to engage in acts of evil, and the context of cruelty in which these extraordinary acts can emerge.Illustrative eyewitness accounts are presented at the end of each chapter. An important new look at how evil develops, Becoming Evil will help us understand such tragedies as the Holocaust and recent terrorist events.Waller argues that by becoming more aware of the things that lead to extraordinary evil, we will be less likely to be surprised by it and less likely to be unwitting accomplices through our passivity. ... Read more

Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Profound book
This work shows why explorations of the nature of human nature are not just the stuff of ivory towers. It adds an evolutionary psychology element to previous discussions of genocide with good effect. So one gets some of the ideas of Tooby, Cosmides, Sober and Wilson's "Unto others", Pinker, etc. in the picture. It is also well written and engages the reader emotionally. The evolutionary psychology, though, is only one fundamental factor among many. The author's point is to show all of the various factors that influence a potential actor in genocide, and the situational influences dealt with by social psychology loom large.

Nevertheless, there is an interesting lack of self-awareness of the use of a repeated concept. It is very common to refer to someone who commits an evil act as being inhuman. That dehumanizes the perpetrator. But as Mr. Waller so beautifully explains, it is well within ordinary human nature to have the potential to commit acts of extraordinary evil. So it may be evil, but it is not inhuman. Furthermore, the book explains that dehumanizing others is part of the process that can lead to genocide. In trying to characterize these evil acts, the author uses some of the same dehumanizing mental constructs that lead to such evil acts. Ironic, no?

But that is a minor point. It is quite customary to refer to evil acts as being inhuman. The book is excellent, if sobering.

5-0 out of 5 stars Impressive.
This book explains all the communication and psycological strategies used by terrorists. Knowing them, a state can create a set of laws that stops them, and therefore limit the capacity of progress of terror. The work of Mr. Waller is just impressive.

5-0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended
The editorial reviews above and the publisher's description are accurate about the content. I want to add that this book is well worth reading. The author covers a great deal of research on the topic of man's inhumanity to man and presents the various theories and arguments with an elegance and precision that make this comprehensive book easy, and were it not for the subject matter, pleasurable to read. For anyone interested in the challenge of explaining violence in all its 20th century awfulness, this is an excellent place to start. ... Read more

104. BLOW: How a Small-Town Boy Made $100 Million with the Medellin Cocaine Cartel and Lost It All
by Bruce Porter
list price: $14.95
our price: $10.47
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Asin: 0312267126
Catlog: Book (2001-03-21)
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Sales Rank: 25023
Average Customer Review: 4.19 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

BLOW is the unlikely story of George Jung's roller coaster ride from middle-class high school football hero to the heart of Pable Escobar's Medellin cartel-- the largest importer of the United States cocaine supply in the 1980s. Jung's early business of flying marijuana into the United States from the mountains of Mexico took a dramatic turn when he met Carlos Lehder, a young Colombian car thief with connections to the then newly born cocaine operation in his native land. Together they created a new model for selling cocaine, turning a drug used primarily by the entertainment elite into a massive and unimaginably lucrative enterprise-- one whose earnings, if legal, would have ranked the cocaine business as the sixth largest private enterprise in the Fortune 500.

The ride came to a screeching halt when DEA agents and Florida police busted Jung with three hundred kilos of coke, effectively unraveling his fortune. But George wasn't about to go down alone. He planned to bring down with him one of the biggest cartel figures ever caught.

With a riveting insider account of the lurid world of international drug smuggling and a super-charged drama of one man's meteoric rise and desperate fall, Bruce Porter chronicles Jung's life using unprecedented eyewitness sources in this critically acclaimed true crime classic.
... Read more

Reviews (27)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great book about drug smuggling
This is one of the better books about the drug trade that I have read. The level of detail that Porter provides about the smuggling operations is excellent. He devotes a good portion of the book to discussion of this and that's the main reason why this book is so interesting. On the other hand, George Jung's story is a typical story of the drug dealer who doesn't know when to stop. I did think that discussing Jung's childhood did not really help the book in any way. It simply gave us background that really was not required to understand the rest of his life. Porter might have been better served by focusing less on Jung and more on the smuggling. Overall, however, I would recommend this book.

4-0 out of 5 stars Astonishes the ignorant....
Being a small-town gal from Mid-Mo, I had no IDEA about anything about the drug trade. This book will open your eyes and get you inside the head of the most successful cocaine smuggler in US history.
Here is my review of the book as it appeared in my high school newspaper:
If people were ever interested in smuggling cocaine into the United States in the 1970's and 80's, they only had to come to one person - a man named George Jung.
The novel "Blow" recounts Jung's rise and desperate fall in the Medellin cocaine cartel, an association of high price manufacturers of the illegal product, where he played a key role alongside the infamous Pablo Escobar.
Writing in chronological order of Jung's adventures and the exotic locales he visits, author Bruce Porter uses his exclusive eyewitness sources to tell the fascinating life story of a successful drug smuggler.
The book's success lies in the exceptional amount of detail present. The intricately woven web of facts mesmerizes the reader as the story unfolds. Porter leaves nothing of this amazing story untold, which makes the story complete; the reader does not feel cheated out of information.
"Blow" is also successful regarding the intimate interviews given by Jung; his wife, Mirtha; and his may associates in his million dollar drug operation. Porter chooses the right times to let the people involved tell the story. Tucked in with the rest of the story are quotes and anecdotes from Jung's closest friends and businessman. Kudos to Porter for getting the interviewees to reveal so much about their lives.
The only downside present is that with so many characters involved, the reader might forget who some people are and what thier part in the novel is.
Although changed and dramatized for effect, the movie is an accurate representation of the novel.
"Blow" is an enjoyable and intriguing true crime classic.

5-0 out of 5 stars Jailing Jung (Blow) and Killing Pablo
Those interested in learning about the disparate personalities largely responsible for the cocaine avalanche that washed over America need only read this excellent book and Mark Bowden's equally fascinating work of non-fiction titled "Killing Pablo."

In "Blow", we laugh at the ordeals of George Jung and company as they grow rich exploiting America's burgeoning drug market while being chased, indicted, and jailed by inept and unsophisticated law enforcement agencies and prosecutors. In "Killing Pablo", we shudder over the actions of the world's (formerly) most ruthless drug lord who held Colombia hostage through rewards and ruthless punishment aptly termed "plata o plomo" (silver or lead).

Porter and Bowden performed exhaustive research on their respective protagonists and produced rousing narratives. Two of the finest works of non-fiction - of any topic - I've ever read.

4-0 out of 5 stars A real page turner
George Jung is widely acknowedged as the man who introduced cocaine for mass consumption to people in the United States, and this book tells us how he did it. Sort of a lesson in how to smuggle.

From his begginings as a high school football player, through his early days selling marijuana in Florida, right through to his career as the number one cocaine supplier in the US and ending up with him languishing in prison, every aspect of his life is covered here in all it's glory.

With a life as rich in detail as Jung's, the book could easily have become bogged down in detail, but it's to the writers credit that he never lets the pace flag.

Highly reccommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars Blow
Ever wonder what would be your life if they made it a movie?
Awesome book! Well-written for a pop bio.

I fell asleep reading it, dreamt about about the Medellin cartel, picked it up again before getting out of bed.

This, the real story, was messier than the movie. The essence was the same, but the order was different. Details were moved around. George had a sister. His girlfriend didn't die of cancer. He didn't quit after breaking with Carlos.

That was interesting to me, but I found this story just amazing. . . and well put-together. Good work Porter. ... Read more

105. Made Men: The True Rise-And-Fal Story of a New Jersey Mob Family (Berkley True Crime)
by Greg B. Smith
list price: $6.99
our price: $6.29
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0425185516
Catlog: Book (2003-02-01)
Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
Sales Rank: 22040
Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

It wasn't until the success of "The Sopranos" that New Jersey's powerful DeCavalcante family became legitimized in the eyes of big city capos. But a higher profile meant higher risk. Member turned against member, and eventually one of them turned to reporter Greg B. Smith to expose the rise and fall of one of the most notorious families in America. ... Read more

Reviews (10)

3-0 out of 5 stars GOOD READ...BUT NOT ONE OF THE BEST!!
I have a huge collection of mafia books and have enjoy the writings of various authors relating to topic at hand. This is one of the most current books to hit the market(2003).
I greatly enjoy the book in the sense that it opened up the DECALVACANTE family a little bit more. Being that the NEW JERSEY family wasn't as big as the BIG 5 in New York, not much has been writing about them, hell... the PHILADELPHIA family has gotten more press and coverage.
This book introduces us to current mob guys that are still alive and fresh. Most mob books are about previous generation wiseguys who have since past away. It makes us realize that as "hardhit" as the MAFIA has been lately, they are still around and scams are still being pulled. It also shows how , like everything else...the mob is evolving right before our eyes....from bootlegging, prostitution, gambling to 21st century scams like insurance fraud, wall street, computer scams, mortgage scams etc.
The only complain about this book is that time and time ago, the author keeps reiterating the same thoughts and descriptions over and over again, maybe he was just trying to fill more pages or thought the reader has the memory recollection of a snail.

When you read this book, you will understand what I means as you will find the same passages over and over again.
I do recommend this book for mafia afficionados to add to their collection, just don't expect it to be a book that you can read again and again and still be entertain. You will read this book, be momentarily entertained, educated more on the NEW JERSEY family. Then you will be bored with it and put it away. The only time I picture myself opening this book again is if I needed to research a certain wiseguy that was mentioned in the book.

5-0 out of 5 stars If you are missing your Sopranos Fix, Read This Now
``Made Men,'' by Greg B. Smith is a real page turner. Small time crime at its best, this book describes a family that could and may be the real Sopranos, and reading it is like watching an episode -- only funnier. These bumbling mobsters get in and out of scams throughout Brooklyn, Queens, New Jersey and Staten Island and the book provides an illuminating look at what is left of the mafia today. A quick, fun read, filled with vivid details and lively writing.

4-0 out of 5 stars $6.99, how can you go wrong?
I paid $6.99 for this little book. The idea of life imitating art imitating life was a real well done exploration. The author definitely had his facts together, and I never doubted his facts were anything but "the gospel." Yeah, maybe I didn't care that much about the characters, but that's because they were described as they really are. Very violent and dangerous people. This book might not be earth shattering, however, it's no waste of time for people that like the real grit.

1-0 out of 5 stars La cosa nostra of New Jersey for the meddigan...
The DeCavalcante Family is what the Bonanno's were back in the day-- until very recently-- quiet, hidden, old-school. This book doesn't do them justice. This guy, the writer, he can't even spell most of the time. You'd do better looking the stuff up yourself. If you're from Ohio or someplace go ahead and read it if it gives you a kick, but if you're from North Jersey or even the city, and you already know half this stuff, the book's like a kick in the teeth. Not a great intro to these friends of ours. Oh yeah, and f*@# Vinnie Ocean.
Tanti auguri ai miei paesani di NJ!

5-0 out of 5 stars Sorpanos Season is coming -- Getting Ready By Reading This B
These vivid, often hilarious descriptions of the real life mafia are a perfect way to get into the mood for the upcoming Soprano season in March. I especially enjoyed knowing that these were the real Wiseguys, based on actual transcriptions and real court cases, so I knew Smith had created an authentic look at what is left of the mafia. I howled with laughter in many cases. ... Read more

106. Operatives, Spies, and Saboteurs : The Unknown Story of the Men and Women of World War II's OSS
by Patrick K. O'Donnell
list price: $27.00
our price: $17.82
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 074323572X
Catlog: Book (2004-03-10)
Publisher: Free Press
Sales Rank: 8183
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The battles of World War II were won not only by the soldiers on the front lines, and not only by the generals and admirals, but also by the shadow warriors whose work is captured for the first time in Operatives, Spies, and Saboteurs. Thanks to the interviews and narrative skills of Patrick O'Donnell and to recent declassifications, an entire chapter of history can now be revealed. A hidden war -- a war of espionage, intrigue, and sabotage -- played out across the occupied territories of Europe, deep inside enemy lines. Supply lines were disrupted; crucial intelligence was obtained and relayed back to the Allies; resistance movements were organized. Sometimes, impromptu combat erupted; more often, the killing was silent and targeted. The full story of the Office of Strategic Services -- OSS, precursor to the CIA -- is a dramatic final chapter on one of history's most important conflicts.

In a world made unrecognizable by the restrictions placed on the CIA today, OSS played fast and loose. Legendary chief "Wild Bill" Donovan created a formidable organization in short order, recruiting not only the best and brightest, but also the most fearless. His agents, both men and women, relied on guile, sex appeal, brains, and sheer guts to operate behind the lines, often in disguise, always in secret.

Patrick O'Donnell, called "the next Studs Terkel" by bestselling author Hampton Sides, has made it his life's mission to capture untold stories of World War II before the last of its veterans passes away. He has succeeded in extracting stories from the toughest of men, the most elite of soldiers, and, now, the most secretive of all: the men and women of OSS. From former CIA director William Colby, who parachuted into Norway to sever rail lines, to Virginia Hall, who disguised herself as a milkmaid, joined the French Resistance, and became one of Germany's most wanted figures, the stories of OSS are worthy of great fiction. Yet the stories in this book are all true, carefully verified by O'Donnell's painstaking research.

The agents of OSS did not earn public acclaim. There were no highly publicized medal ceremonies. But the full story of OSS reveals crucial work in espionage and sabotage, work that paved the way for the Allied invasions and disrupted the Axis defenses. Operatives, Spies, and Saboteurs proves that the hidden war was among the most dramatic and important elements of World War II. ... Read more

Reviews (14)

I bought the book and couldn't put it down after reading it straight through over the weekend. So much of O'Donnell's book contains new information on OSS and WWII. O'Donnell does a masterful job capturing OSS's most important missions and the incredible exploits of these men and women agents most of them untold until now. The narrative style of this book combined with oral history, allows it to read like some of Ambrose's classics like D-Day or Citizen Soldiers. O'Donnell has changed his style compared to his other books yet he still allows the voices of these incredible spies and Special Forces troops to speak

I was really stunned with what OSS did during the war: everything from creating the first SEALS; to blowing up bridges in Greece; to operation CROSS a team of 100 ex-German POWs trained to kill or kidnap Hitler. Some of the best chapters revolve around Greece and the Balkans which have hardly been touched by most historians. Also entertaining was the chapter revolving around spy gadgets created in OSS labs. OSS made everything from umbrella guns to cigarettes that were .22 caliber pistols to something called the "Truth Drug." The missions into Germany itself made my hair stand up in the back of head, especially, the stories from Jewish-American veterans that went back facing almost certain death if they were captured.

5-0 out of 5 stars Intense History
World War II is such a historical epic, so monumental and sweeping in its scale, that much can be lost in the massive threads that make up the truly great human war. At the same time, the scholarship concerning the war and its effects are so voluminous that little has not been touched on. That's why I was so pleasantly surprised when I finished author Patrick O'Donnell's excellent new history of the Office of Strategic Services, America's WWII era intelligence agency. I have read hundreds of thousands of pages on the war, but I would say 90 percent of the material and stories presented in this book were unknown to me. O'Donnell himself sounds surprised, as he tracked down dozens of aging ex-agents who were willing to give him their long held secrets in amazing detail. O'Donnell has a talent with grafting these new stories with superb document research, giving a gripping and complete account of the OSS in the European theater.

Probably the most startiling tale in this book is how unprepared the United States was for a covert war. The idea of an OSS type group was almost foreign to all American leaders, especially the military. It was only through the enlightened stubborness of the OSS' first director, decorated WWI director Willian "Wild Bill" Donovan, that the US government recognized the need for an international spy agency. It was amazing how rapidly the OSS was able to construct itself, even though it recieved substantial support from its big brothers across the pond, Britain's MI-6. O'Donnell is clear and concise as he describes the makeup and training behind the genesis of the OSS. As the US entered the war against Hitler, the OSS was rapidly moving to counter the threat posed to the world's most powerful democracy. The stories of the OSS in North Africa were amazing to me, this book serves as both an education piece and as a testament to the men and women who were willing to take unimaginable risks in order to hurt the Axis. In Africa, Italy, and the Balkans, OSS teams, made up of both American and foreign agents were instrumental in many Allied successes, such as the guerilla wars in Yugoslavia that caused Germany so many problems. O'Donnell is always ready to remind the reader that the bravery of the OSS was not confined to their American agents, the foreign operatives and armies of the OSS were often fanatically dedicated to the defeat of their homelands fascist oppressors.

As the war against Nazi Germany developed, so did OSS methods and challenges. No longer was OSS faced with the far reaches of the Nazi empire, they were now sending assets directly into the heart of the Reich. At the same time, OSS was charged with very difficult objectives, such as preparing the way for Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of France. These missions made for some great reading, as OSS agents fought with French resistance fighters in order to complicate Nazi military reaction. This included hair raising missions including the destruction of communication hubs, railroads, and convoys. Most famously, the OSS helped Free French forces battle the 2nd SS "Das Reich" Panzer division as it traveled north to the invasion beachheads, delaying it for a full month. Less glamourously, OSS agents and spies worked in places such as Switzerland and Sweden, picking up on Nazi secrets and signals. Psychological units worked tirelessly to erode Nazi morale with a bag full of nefarious tricks. At the end, the OSS was active, amazingly, within Germany itself, where it fought a covert war against the massive Nazi apparatus and its violently fearsome security organs, such as the SS-SD and the Gestapo. As the stakes became higher, so did the risks, and many a OSS operative or member met horrific fate at the hands of Himmler's sadists.

Narrative hstories are always a bit tough to write effectively, as you have to avoid the temptation to just throw all of the interviews together with little real insight. O'Donnell avoids this tripwire, by providing extremely effective scholarly research with the amazingly detailed interviews and testimonials by men and women who have gone relatively unrecognized. Their effect has been felt all over the world, as the covert wars of the 1940's have provided blueprints for the covert wars of today. Some have derided the OSS impact on the overall war, but O'Donnell is careful to point out the OSS' critical role in several turning points of the conflict. It is a very rewarding learning experience while at the same providing for Fleming like action. Amazing book.

4-0 out of 5 stars First Hand Testimony Is Always The Best
This book is not "War and Peace", nor is it a comprehensive book on spies, but rather it is a collection of stories using first hand testimony of the participants in the OSS in WWII. In that context the book is different from most of what must now be a 1000 books on WWII. The strength of this book is the excellent writing and the series of interesting characters and their stories, all involving ordinary men that do heroic things. Thankfully their stories have been recorded by the author since many of these men are now many in the 80's and their first hand recollections will soon be lost. In any case the book is better that one might expect.

I first heard about this book on WABC where John Bachelor has interviewed a series of the living subjects or "spies" on air on his late daily show at 10:00 PM. The guys are ordinary but the stories are often riveting. They put themselves in tremendous danger with their patriotic actions. In many ways this book is like the recent Tim Russert book - a sleeper. The book seems okay from what you have heard from others and from interviews on the radio, but the book is actually a much better read. In many ways the both books (Russert and this book) are on subjects that when properly presented become compelling page turning reads. This is a great value and a good book.

Four Stars

Jack in Toronto

4-0 out of 5 stars Interesting, if a bit superficial
Patrick O'Donnell has now written three of these books. Each is a collection of oral histories from World War 2, the first following elite units in Europe, the second covering the same ground in the Pacific. This third volume is a collection of oral histories covering the Office of Strategic Services, or OSS, in Europe.

The format is simple. The author collects the histories into a coherent narrative, provides some context, and pads the narrative with some text. The result is a recounting of various campaigns or actions from the ground level, right at the tip of the bayonet.

The difficulty, such as it is, comes from the context. There's nowhere near enough of it. The author (as noted elsewhere) speaks in this book as if the OSS did all or most of the infiltration into France and Germany during WW2, only briefly mentioning the French and British infiltrations that were more prevalent. The author focuses on the American forces, as he did in the previous two books, but here it's a bit more egregious. For one thing, the intelligence world is somewhat murky and indistinct, and its effect on the larger campaigns in the war is, to say the least, controversial. Given that we're not sure how much effect these actions had on the campaigns, the author's presentation is problematic. He tends to take whatever a spy says about the effect of an intelligence coup at face value, and expects the reader to do likewise. This is a bit much, at times.

Other than that, the book does feel a bit incomplete. One reviewer made an unfavorable comparison with M.R.D. Foot's SOE in France (which by the way should never have been allowed to go out of print); this comparison is unfair, as Foot's book was written in the Sixties, and the author had unprecedented access to classified documents and was allowed to interview a great number of people who were then alive. Though it was a great success, Foot's book cause such a controversy that critics succeeded in blocking publications of any further books by Foot or anyone else. O'Donnell's book is nowhere near as comprehensive, and couldn't be, given the differences in the way they were written.

This is a good book, if you understand it's limitations and gee-whiz-look-what-we-did attitude. I enjoyed it and would recommend it.

1-0 out of 5 stars Too little, too late
I was deeply disappointed by this book. Whilst it was useful overview of the OSS during WWII it was superficial and simplistic. As an American I can appreciate that we have to the biggest and best at everything. The truth of the matter in the matter of supporting the European resistance movements with was neither - an honor that most go the British Special Operations Executive (SOE). The point is that this work is nothing like as comprehensive as M.R. Foot's "SOE in France" that I just read prior to this rather sorry work.

The biggest criticism of the author is his totally unquestioning attitude to the work of the OSS and its' policies. For example; O'Donnell presents facts and then fails to interpret them in any meaningful manner, for example the betrayal of the agreement with the British over the operations is Yugoslavia. He fails to explain the politics of the Free French and the problems this present to the resistance. Finally, his biggest omission is to completely ignores the operations of the OSS against Japan. ... Read more

107. Gotti: Rise and Fall
by Jerry Capeci
list price: $7.99
our price: $7.19
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0451406818
Catlog: Book (1996-06-01)
Publisher: Onyx Books
Sales Rank: 82301
Average Customer Review: 3.12 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (17)

4-0 out of 5 stars Gotti The Rise And Fall
The "RISE AND FALL" of "GOTTI" was a book that I really enjoyed reading and found very interesting . The book really described how the notorious John Gotti (leader of the Gambino family, which is one of the most powerful , and most respected mob familes in the history of the mafia) gained both wealth and control of the Gambino family. It had actual facts on his early life as a criminal thug in East New York and other parts of New York . The book also revealed how he lived his personal life , and his life as a man of business with a heart bigger than a lion. It describes how Gotti was first considered an "EARNER", as other members of crime families would refer to it. He would go and highjack trucks, make his money in one day, and spend it all mostly at horse tracks or illegal off track bets.

The book kept good track of timing on how and when Gotti was going to be the next fierce leader of his crime family . The number of arrests and court cases also were on point with those that were kept on records of news reporters , lawyers , and judges . It lead the readers like myself to have enough knowledge of what he was doing wrong and what cases would put him away behind bars for good.

I enjoyed this book because it has plenty of details of one true gangster who was at the top but was being taken down by one who was close to him . For those who are interested in knowing the real Gotti and what he was really about from start to finish, I suggest you read this book!

4-0 out of 5 stars Rise and Fall is a Must read!
I think the book is excellent. As a mafia novice who purchased the book for something to read during spring break, I read the book in one night- I could not put it down. It does a good job at detailing the organization of the Gambino family and Cosa nostra in general. It also gives good biographical accounts of both Gotti and Gravano. I find mob movies empty most of the time so reading a non-fiction account of Mob life in its most famous family was fascinating for me. For 6 bucks, you get ten times more out of it than an 8 dollar movie.

3-0 out of 5 stars Gotti was a chump
This was a decent book (written by the guy who did Gangland for the Daily News), but I have never understood the fascination people have with John Gotti. He was not the "gangster's gangster," he was a loudmouthed publicity hound who believed his own press. A guy like him is death to the syndicate; he focuses the attention of the media (and therefore law enforcement) on him, and therefore everyone associated with him.
Gotti was a clown, possibly one of the worst bosses ever. His idiocy and hubris destroyed the most powerful Family in America.
If you want to read about the real mob stars, read about Tony Accardo, Gaetano Lucchese and Meyer Lansky.

3-0 out of 5 stars OK
This was the first book I read on Gotti, and at the time I enjoyed it. I think it's pretty impressive, all the information Capeci and Mustain rounded up for this; they are good writers. The story is repetitive, though. Who wants to know every single insignificant detail of Gotti's rise to power? His 'public'? hehe. Again, let me tell you, Capeci and Mustain are great writers, I thought their book 'Murder Machine' was a lot more interesting than this. If you're really interested in Gotti, though, I recommend you read Underboss; it's told in Sammy Gravano's own words and that makes it REALY interesting. I bet Gotti loved this book, probably did a lot for his ego. He refuses to be interviewed for it, though, because he wanted to appear as though he was sticking to the old cosa nostra rules.

3-0 out of 5 stars True Crime?
This is an engaging story. Like most mafia based entertainment, it gets your attention and has some kind of strange "tough-guy" appeal. It does a good job of detailing Gotti's life and the organization of the Gambino family, which is really all I asked for from the book. It is not, however, particularly well written or convincing. It reads a lot like a 450 page New York Daily News police report, which is good in that it has the facts, but gets a little dry after a while. To spice things up, the authors obviously had to rely on a lot of heresay and innuendo to fill out the details they could not have possibly gotten first hand, which gives it a little bit of a false feeling. This is the best and most accurate source I have about the Cosa Nostra, however, so I think it valuable for that reason. If you are interested in the mafia or Gotti, this is a good book, but if you are not already interested in the subjects, this book certainly won't demonstrate their appeal. ... Read more

108. The Encyclopedia of Serial Killers
by Michael Newton
list price: $19.95
our price: $13.57
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0816039798
Catlog: Book (2000-03-01)
Publisher: Facts on File
Sales Rank: 9224
Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

From Jack the Ripper to the FBI's Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (VICAP), The Encyclopedia of Serial Killers gives readers an exhaustive overview of what is undoubtedly the most macabre and fascinating branch of crime and modern criminology. The book details individual cases of serial murder, law enforcement agents and their techniques, the factors that contribute to the development of a serial killer, and how society chooses to deal with and punish these vicious criminals. In-depth coverage is provided on the realities of serial murder versus popular myths depicted in film and television, key figures on both sides of the law, pivotal cases and events, and criminal activities that have shaped law enforcement responses.

Among the most infamous criminals profiled are:
Jack the Ripper
Albert DeSalvo (a.k.a. "The Boston Strangler")
Ted Bundy
John Wayne Gacy
David Berkowitz (a.k.a. "The Son of Sam")
and many more. ... Read more

Reviews (20)

5-0 out of 5 stars The only book you need...
Theis is an amazing a-z book on serial killers. Anything that you wanted to know about anybody, what they did, how they did it, where they are from etc.... A true cookbook of killers.

5-0 out of 5 stars A great resource
This book is the best resource for broad information on the subject of serial killers I have yet read.

If you are looking for a wide variety of fact on the subject but don't want to put the effort into a lot of research this is the book.

This book is not as indepth or as comprehensive as some of the single subject serial killer books I have read, but it does provide a wealth of information for starting out.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great book. Very informative.
For those interested in serial killers or in understanding the human condition in some of its darkest forms, this book offers a number of wonderful insights. Details from interviews with many of the most notorious killers of our time including John Wayne Gacey, Henry Lee Lucas & Karl "Kropsey" Morgan are both fascinating and truly repulsive.

5-0 out of 5 stars Intriguing and thorough for those with morbid fascination
I bought this book because of morbid fascination with the minds of those who find it necessary or enjoyable to seek alternate, though immoral, ways to spend their time. I wanted to find a book that had easily digestible snippets on some of the more, and less, infamous serial killers. I am glad that I was able to find such a book.

The Encyclopedia of Serial Killers is a great book because it gives the reader just enough information to tempt the palate with regards to each killer. Michael Newton does a great job of giving us not too much detail, and not too little detail about each case study. Nor does he gloss over the facts regarding each case. Each individual (whether killer or killed) is looked at from a very professional standpoint. Newton looks at a killer's upbringing and other social factors that may lead to why they have done what they have done, in addition to the mere facts. Newton also addresses what has happened to these people, if they were caught and convicted. It is interesting to see how society's law enforcement has changed over the years.

Some of those included are:
Jack the Ripper
Ed Gein
Son of Sam
The Zodiac Killer
Ted Bundy
The Manson Family

If you are looking for a book that gives you a peek into the mind of not one, but many serial killers then this is the book for you. From these intriguing portrayals, one can decide which cases and killers are most interesting and buy more in-depth books about each. It's great as a reference, to read from cover to cover, or to pull out when you simply want to leaf through to kill some time. Highly recommended to fans of the true crime genre.

5-0 out of 5 stars Lives Gone Wrong so went to Murder
Did you ever think that what you wear or your hair color could be the the death of you? Well some serial killers pick their victims because of their outside appearance. Do you imagine a nice death? Well, some people can't because they get killed by getting butchered, torchered, and many other ways. Would you rather have your body after death be eaten by worms or humans? Well, some people choose the sport of canablism. "The Encyclopedia of Serial Killers" by Micheal Newton explains all of the disturbing ways serial killers kill their victims. Micheal Newton is an author who puts reasons and childhood trama together so that you get inside the serial killer's mind. I recommend this great book to people who have only one point of view in murder cases. I rate this unique non-fiction book 5 stars. There are many serial killers not just one, described in this unique, out of the ordinary book. You might change your mind about serial killers. If you think all serial killers murder for fun, you're wrong. Many went though child-hood trama. maybe this book will change your mind about serial killers. So if you're in a thrilling, unique mood then read this excellent book of horror. ... Read more

109. The Fugitive Game : Online with Kevin Mitnick
by Jonathan Littman
list price: $19.99
our price: $19.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0316528692
Catlog: Book (1997-01-01)
Publisher: Little, Brown
Sales Rank: 120228
Average Customer Review: 4.41 out of 5 stars
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The Fugitive Game introduces Kevin Mitnick moments before the fugitive hacker surrenders himself to FBI agents who have located him with the help of the so-called cybersleuth, Tsutomu Shimomura. The prologue to Jonathan Littman's book kicks off with the epic climax that came to tantalize movie producers and video game designers and launch magazine covers worldwide. However, this is not another version of Takedown. The Fugitive Game is a compelling, journalistic look at the events that led up to the capture of Kevin Mitnick, and no portion of the folklore surrounding the case is left untouched by the book's critical eye. The real gold of this volume comes from the nearly 200 pages of conversations with Kevin Mitnick himself, most of which were transcribed while he was fleeing from the law.

Over the course of Mitnick's flight from justice, Littman documents and examines the public transformation of Mitnick into Public Enemy Number One, mostly through the efforts of the New York Times writer John Markoff. Markoff's involvement in the eventual capture of Mitnick by Shimomura is also scrutinized at length. Littman even questions the now-legendary Christmas Day break-in of Shimomura's computer, citing reports that the "IP spoofing technique," which Markoff claimed was so ingenious, was in fact a well-known method of gaining access to systems for years. This is a brilliant look at a compelling individual and also the manufacturing of media events and the inept efforts of law enforcement to prepare for the next wave of high-tech crime. ... Read more

Reviews (54)

4-0 out of 5 stars an excellent counterpoint to "takedown"
If you've followed the Kevin Mitnick story since January '95, you probably think you're pretty well informed on the subject. If you've gone as far as to read "Takedown" by Tsutomu Shimomura and John Markoff, you probably think you know the whole story. I know i did. But then I read this book. Littman, with a truly unique insider's view of Kevin Mitnick's life on the run, presents the story from the other side of the fence. As with many things in life the story turns out to be a lot more complex and interesting than previously thought. Overall, the book is excellent and well written, and Littman raises some very insightful questions about the justice system and typical media coverage of network security issues. I found the last third of the book, the part which chronicles the period after Mitnick's capture, to be somewhat drawn out. I thought that section was a little repetitive, and could have been a lot shorter. Still, the book is an an excellent read, and anyone whose opinions about the Kevin Mitnick case are based on the media coverage and on "Takedown" owe it to themselves to read "The Fugitive Game".

4-0 out of 5 stars Factual Presentation of The Story
I became interested in Kevin Poulson and Kevin Mitnick after reading several articles about his exploits. After learning about this new book from Jonathan Littman, I emailed the author for sources of more information. He (of course) advised that I purchase his two books on The Kevins: 1) "The Fugitive Game: Online With Kevin Mitnick", and 2) "The Watchman: The Twisted Life and Crimes of Serial Hacker Kevin Poulsen". I ordered the two books, along with "Cyberpunk: Outlaws and Hackers on the Computer Frontier" by John Markoff and Katie Hafner.

I read Jonathan Littman's two books first, and was very excited with the stories, and his factual presentation. His writing style is an excellent fit for the type of story he is telling. It was obvious that Littman researched the facts and presented them in an unbiased manner. I liked that he presented both the technical information and the human elements of the stories. I also liked that he exposed many myths and controversy regarding the players in the stories, like John Markoff's getting involved in the chase for Mitnick, crossing the ethical boundary between journalism and law enforcement.

I then read "Cyberpunk" by Markoff and Hafner. Boy, what a difference! Where Littman was factual, Markoff was more into storytelling. I cannot say who's right (I wasn't THERE), but Markoff just didn't come across as complete and factual, especially in light of Littman's comments on his questionable involvement in Mitnick's capture. I did, however, love Markoff's telling of the rtm story (Robert Tappan Morris - the sendmail internet worm guy). I'd give this book 3 stars.

I'd like to take a moment to comment on some other reviews that I think are unfair or inaccurate.

Regarding "The Watchman":

"Big Letdown" stated that there was too much technical information. I completely disagree. It's true that I personally enjoyed the technical details, but I also felt it was important insight into a hacker's curiosity response to forbidden systems. "Hmmm...Perhaps Jonathan should have done more research" stated that Littman didn't give Poulsen a chance, and made him out to be a monster. I wonder if we read the same book? I did not get the impression that Poulsen was a monster of any kind, just a kid addicted to the power and thrills of having absolute control over other people's forbidden systems. On the contrary, I think Littman did a professional, accurate, and entertaining presentation of the story and it's facts.

Regarding "The Fugitive Game":

"lots of clumsy writing here" stated that Littman tried to make Mitnick out to be a hero. Again, I have to wonder if we read the same book. Littman did no such thing. In fact, Littman "de-heroed" other characters that John Markoff pumped up in his telling of events. From reading the above-mentioned three books, Littman comes across as MUCH more factual. "Not Very good" stated that the story was boring, and to get other books like the Cuckoo's Egg, and maybe even At Large. The book was far from boring, but I'd have to agree that "The Watchman" was better (I give "The Fugitive Game" 4 stars, "The Watchman" 5 stars.) I guess I'll have to check out "Cuckoo's Egg" and "At Large" - at least the reviewer made alternative recommendations, which I thank him/her for.

Finally, to help the reader of this review judge how relevant my opinion is, I'll tell you where I'm coming from. I consider myself to be very technical. I really got started with computers back in 1978, about the same time these guys were getting going. I went through many of the same "phases" these hackers went through. I did things to computers that weren't supposed to be done - and got caught a couple times (ahh, the old days...) So I think I'm qualified to judge a "real" story. All three books were nostalgic for me, but Littman's were the most accurate, I think. In my opinion, he described what it was REALLY like: the curiosity, the intensity, the excitement of discovery, the thrill of the hunt, and the addiction of absolute control.

3-0 out of 5 stars This is a book about lifestyle, not technology
If you're interested in the technical side of Mitnick's computer vandalism, you won't find it here. You will, however, get a glimpse into his personality and lifestyle, as well as an idea into those of other famous computer criminals of the '90s.
It is well written, however, as Littman is a professional writer. Contrast this with "Takedown," in which you're given a lot of techical information, but the writing is a bit less refined, as Shimomura makes his living as a scientific computing expert.
Take it for what it is.

3-0 out of 5 stars Better than similar books, not great
I wish this book had been focused on the media coverage of "hackers." The book does expose how tech companies, and the media, especially Markoff from the NY Times, exploited Mitnik and his story. It also shows the incompetance of the FBI and other agencies in dealing with Mitnik, trying to make him an example for others and nearly making him a martyr instead. This story has no heroes, and its painfully noticeable that even the author is milking the "hacker" phenomenon for what its worth. It is the pathetic world of a computer prankster, his malicious "friends" and a host of others determined to pad their resumes with Mitnik's misery. "The Watchman" was more informative and satisfying, however this is the most fair and balanced treatment of Mitnick's story I've read.

5-0 out of 5 stars First-rate thriller: the insider's insider scoop
Everything I wanted to know about world-class hacking but was too much the "idiot" [to use hacker parlance] to pose the right and savvy questions. Bonus entertainment in cameo appearances by a John Markov - veritable Uriah Heep among reporters - who oozes slug-like across the page with every self-serving appearance. Littman is a clear-eyed researcher whose skill as a writer is matched by an uncanny ability to stay unfooled and unphased by others' shadowy agendas or hype. ... Read more

110. The Greatest Firefighter Stories Never Told
by Allan Zullo, Mike Santangelo, Mara Bovsun
list price: $9.95
our price: $8.96
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0740728202
Catlog: Book (2002-08-02)
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Sales Rank: 9603
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Book Description

The firefighters who lost their lives in the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center have become well-known-and rightfully so. But firefighters throughout America risk life and limb every day, many times without any acknowledgement whatsoever, let alone fame or fortune.In The Greatest Firefighter Stories Never Told, authors Mike Santangelo, Mara Bovsun and Allan Zullo have collected more than two dozen gripping accounts of America's bravest heroes, those who save lives every day as they rush in to rescue others. From airport firefighters to hazardous materials experts, from forest firefighters to high-elevation rescuers, from smoke jumpers to harbor firefighters, The Greatest Firefighter Stories Never Told captivates readers with its focus on the fresh and fascinating tales of real heroes and those they save.Several stories highlight some of the courageous firefighters of the New York Fire Department who were on hand during the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Already, the department's heroism has captured America's heart. These gripping, in-depth stories will put names and faces to those most deserving of worldwide recognition.

... Read more

111. The Westies
by T. J. English
list price: $6.99
our price: $6.29
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312924291
Catlog: Book (1991-03-15)
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
Sales Rank: 10754
Average Customer Review: 4.42 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Even among the Mob, the Westies were feared. Out of a partnership between two sadistic thugs, James Coonan and Mickey Featherstone, the gang rose out of the inferno of Hell's Kitchen, a decaying tenderloin slice of New York City's West Side. They became the most notorious gang in the history of organized crime, excelling in extortion, numbers running, loansharking, and drug peddling. Upping the ante on depravity, their specialty was execution by dismemberment. Though never numbering more than a dozen members, their reign lasted for almost twenty years-until their own violent natures got the best of them, precipitating a downfall that would become as infamous as their notorious ascension into the annals of crime.
... Read more

Reviews (33)

4-0 out of 5 stars Good Real Life Mob Book
Those who get a little too wrapped up in "The Sopranos" should read books like "The Westies" every now and then just to remind them of what havoc real life organized crime can inflict. The book chronicles the rise and fall of the Irish gang of the same name that was every bit as bloodthirsty as John Gotti's more famous crew. The gang occupied New York City's since regentrified Hell's Kitchen neighborhood. Mystery author Lawrence Block effectively used the Westies lore in creating the character Mickey Ballou in the Matthew Scudder private detective series. The fictional Ballou could be Jimmy Coonan or Mickey Featherstone, the real life chieftans of the gang, who were known for dismembering victims and dumping their bodies in the East River.

"The Westies" is a brutally violent story and one that makes good reading for anyone who likes real life organized crime stories. The prose and the reporting are a cut above average for this type of book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Gripping
T.J. English has a way about his books. Like BORN TO KILL, about a Vietnamese street gang making a name amongst NYC Chinatown gangs, English always finds a subjec to tell his story through, making his books, like THE WESTIES read better than a Newsweek article (not necessarily written in a poetic way, but the story structure is awesome). Though his subject is almost always a turncoat, so to speak, he still maintains a feel of currency to his book. Here, in the Westies, despite the almost predictable ending, the book flows beautifully, if brutal in the process. The Westies, not a real name of this Irish Mob, were an interesting sidebar to the mob scene in the 70s, and part of 80s. Unlike their Italian counterparts, they featured a less-organized, but more violent approach to their ways. And this is where English always shines, displaying violence as well as anyone. The violence comes off as so real, that you can't discount it. This is not watching a movie. Speaking of which, the movie "State of Grace" is loosely based on this story, but the movie should be ignored at all costs. And if for some reason that is your introduction to reading this book, then let English erase your visual memory with one that is more vivid. An absolute must for true crime fans, and even for those who don't count themselves as one.

4-0 out of 5 stars Gruesome Read
There's not a lot more to say that other reviewers haven't already said, except that while reading this book, it would be wise to remember that most of the information comes from Featherstone himself - and so, the book largely portrays this vicious killer and mob rat as a victim who had little choice in his actions.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Westies
After reading The Westies it is obvious that T.J. English is a very talented writer. I loved this book. This read as more of a fiction book than a true story, which is difficult to do with a true story such as this. Unlike most true stories, The Westies was not just the words of people around the events, or involved in the events, but of the author. Obviously all of the events told to him could not be true, and the dialogue had to be made up (for the most part), but he writes as if he were there which makes it much more smooth.

It is an interesting story, hard to put down. So hard, in fact, that I only put it down three times (once at the end of each of Part I and Part II, and the end of the book). Anyone interested in organized crime, or anyone looking for a good action story should check it out.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good but "Irish Gangs And Stick-Fighting" better.
As you can see, "The Westies" tells the story of the last days of the Irish Mob in Manhattan's West Side. The upcoming film by Martin Scorcese is based on the first half of the book "The Gangs Of New York", which was an attempt to chronicle the rise to power of these same Irish gangs. (The first half of "The Gangs Of New York" deals almost exclusively with Irish gangs). Both books are good, but they don't explain the fighting traditions or rituals of the Irish gangs, they simply describe these gangs and their violence in a sensational way. They tell you what they did, but now why and in many cases the traditions the describe are not understood by the authors. Hurley's book remedies these problems by providing first hand accounts of Irish gangs and their fights, written by a semi-reformed 19th century Irish stick-fighter named William Carleton. "Irish Gangs And Stick-Fighting" vividly describes Ireland's street fighting culture which was governed by a code of honour which Hurley rightly calls 'Shillelagh Law'. This code became the foundation for the code of the Irish gangs in New York and other American cities, and eventually, for the non-Irish gangs which came to follow. The flashy clothes, the spectacular violence, the street slang, all of the things we associate today with gangs and the mafia were found first among the Irish gang members in Ireland. (The use of the word "mob" to describe organized crime for example, comes from the days when the Irish gangs in NYC were the muscle behind Tammany Hall and through them the democratic party in NYC. WASP's used to refer to the Irish "mobsters" and their strong arm tactics at polling booths, and through riots, etc., as "mob rule"). If you are Irish or have an interest in Irish gangs get "The Westies", get "The Gangs Of New York", and see Scorcese's film. But to really understand the origins of these gangs and the hype behind the myth, get Hurley's "Irish Gangs And Stick-Fighting" - you'll be glad you did. ... Read more

112. One Deadly Night (St. Martin's True Crime Library)
by John Glatt
list price: $6.99
our price: $6.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312993099
Catlog: Book (2005-05-03)
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
Sales Rank: 12730
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

On September 28, 2000, former Indiana State Trooper David Camm made a frantic call to his former colleagues in the state troopers office: He'd just walked into his garage, and found lying on the floor the bodies of his 35-year-old wife, Kim, and their two children, Brad and Jill, ages 7 and 5.

This was the kind of crime that could tear the heart out of a community. The Camm's lived the American Dream. They had what seemed like a loving marriage, a nice little house with a white picket fence, and two adorable children. To top it all off, David Camm was a pillar of the community who had dedicated his career to the enforcement of the law and the sanctity of human life. Then, this happened.

Three days later, it got worse when police arrested David Camm for the triple murder. Soon, new stories started emerging: stories about mistresses and violent bursts of temper. And as the ugly truth about the Camms' marriage got uglier and the evidence against David started piling up, two families-and the community at large-took positions at opposite sides of a yawning and bitter divide.

Was David Camm a dedicated, conscientious public servant-the victim of unspeakable tragedy, railroaded by an unfair system? Or was he a cold-hearted murderer who earned his three murder convictions and every one of the 195 years behind bars to which he was sentenced?

Investigative journalist John Glatt finds out in this gripping new book.
... Read more

Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Well written
Aside from the journalists at the Louisville SNITCH, this is the most informative info on this murderous loser.Hope he will have more info of the current twist to update the later publishings of this book. ... Read more

113. Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper-- Case Closed (Berkley True Crime)
by Patricia Cornwell
list price: $7.99
our price: $7.19
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0425192733
Catlog: Book (2003-11-01)
Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
Sales Rank: 9016
Average Customer Review: 2.38 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Now updated with new material that brings the killer's picture into clearer focus ... Read more

Reviews (482)

3-0 out of 5 stars Good content, bad presentation
I was really excited to read this book, but I have to say, I was pretty disappointed by it. I guess if the goal was convince me that Walter Sickert was Jack the Ripper, then the goal was accomplished. The problem I had with the book is that the presentation was very hard to follow. The book was constantly jumping back and forth between Walters Sickerts history, the different murders and the present in a way that I found confusing. A timeline of when the murders occured (including the ones she speculates are done by Sickert, but are not thought of as "Jack the Ripper" murders) would have been helpful to try to see patterns. Another missing piece for me is why Jack the Ripper suddenly stopped. Patricia Cornwell speculates that he probably didn't stop committing murders, but why did he stop writing the letters? He obviously loved the attention it brought, so why stop after that had been his modus operandi for so long? The last criticism I had of the book is the ending. The book ended abruptly with the death of his 2nd (of 3) wife. Why end there? I couldn't believe when I turned the page and that was the end! There was no wrap up or conclusions of any kind.

For anyone who has always wondered who Jack the Ripper was, you must read this book. It's extremely detailed and as I said, convincing. Her insights into the psychopathic mind are fascinating. She also makes a strong case that Walter Sickert was a violent psychopath. However, you may find as I did that the book could have been much better had the presentation been clearer.

2-0 out of 5 stars More bodies on the pyre
If anything, this book is perhaps proof that the Jack the Ripper obsession will never die, if only because it's unlikely it will ever be solved, at least 'conclusively'.

The book is arrogantly sub-titled 'Case Closed', and of course, it's anything but a closed case that Walter Sickert was Jack the Ripper, or that James Maybrick was the Ripper, or Lewis Carroll was the Ripper, or the royals were involved, etc.

I'm not sure what to make of the whole business anymore. There are now close to 20 suspects in the Ripper case, and indeed in the 1990s alone quite a few new suspects appeared on the scene thanks to research and fanaticism on the part of various writers. Now Cornwall has thrown herself into it, and it's somewhat troubling.

Of course, at the end of the day, there's no smoking gun. There hasn't been a smoking gun, and given that the murders took place in 1888, and evidence and various records are long gone, it's highly unlikely there will be a smoking gun. The whole business already inspired someone to forge a 'Ripper' diary and try to pass it off. This has since been debunked numerous times, with the author himself swearing that it's a forgery, yet people still believe it. Every year someone discovers someone who was in London in 1888, hated women, etc, etc.

Folks who are interested in the Ripper may peruse this book, but it's clear from the 'evidence' and the layout that this is anything but 'Case Closed', if anything, it says something about Cornwall, who writes about her own doubt to this theory. And admittedly, while there are some nice coincidences, and Sickert indeed may have been a bit off his rocker, and indeed may have penned Ripper letters (of which there were many fakes), it's no more convincing than several other theories of the past ten years.

Notice the '71% off' price tag of this book, which shows you something in comparison to other books on the subject. There are much better books about the whole case, and you'll likely learn more from those if you care. It would be nice to put the whole Ripper case to rest, finally. The energy and resources some folks have put into 'solving' this business is becoming more alarming. Recommended if you must, but it's hardly a 'final chapter'.

1-0 out of 5 stars Absolute tosh: says more about Cornwell than Sickert
I can't think of another character assassination that is as unfounded as this, based as it is on pure conjecture and highly selective and inconclusive 'evidence'.

And just think of the irony of a writer who has based her entire written output on lingering over the sordid details of murder and mutilation claiming that Sickert was a violent psychopath because of the subject-matter of his paintings. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!

This book reveals more about the neuroses and obsessions of Cornwell's own sick mind than it does about Sickert. Rather than 'case closed' on Sickert, it is 'case closed' on Cornwell.

Cornwell's reputation as a writer of FICTION remains intact.

1-0 out of 5 stars Rambling and Premature, and That's Being Generous
I am a fan of Cornwell. I find her to be an intelligent woman, an interesting interview, and a talented author...and she's a fellow Davidson alumnus, a definite plus for this fellow Wildcat. I purchased the unabridged audio of this book eager to listen to what surely must be a well-reasoned, well-grounded theory backed up by at least some evidence. I was horribly disappointed.

Even if Cornwell is correct, this is the farthest thing from a closed case I have ever encountered. Some of the logical leaps and contortions in this book are downright laughable and should justifiably draw outrage from Sickert's admirers or surviving relatives. As other reviewers have noted, it is POSSIBLE (as far as anyone knows) that Sickert might have been a creep, that he might have written a ripper letter, even that he may have been the famous killer, but anyone wanting to bring a case against Sickert would find almost nothing useful in this tome.

The conviction with which Cornwell delivers many of her conclusions (the narrator is suitably melodramatic and judgmental in tone), no matter how tortuous, absurd, strained, or self-serving they may be, makes this book one whopper of a bitter horse pill to swallow for any reader/listener who has somehow managed not to either: a) toss the book into the wall in frustration, or b) fall asleep while attempting to follow the last convoluted line of argument to it's "inescapable" conclusion.

I WANTED Cornwell to come up with an exciting new theory I could buy in to, but at best this book is premature in it's title and conclusion (unless evidence is no longer a prerequisite for closing a case), and at worst this book may be both intellectually dishonest and shockingly irresponsible.
Sadly, this is a must-miss that will leave the reader with more lingering doubts about Cornwell than Sickert.

3-0 out of 5 stars Case closed? Not quite but....
She's presented us with a very strong theory of who Jack the Ripper was.
The only things she has conclusively proved are: 1: that Walter Richard Sickert wrote some of the Ripper letters (including one that came with a kidney). 2: That more of the ripper letters were written by the same person than previously thought (the use of paint rather than ink, watermarks and language point to one writer). 3: That Walter Richard Sickert was not a very nice guy and had a facination with the violent deaths of women. 4: That Walter Richard Sickert prefered the kind of women in the original five Ripper murders.

I doubt the evidence that Ms. Cornwell provides would pass the reasonable doubt requirement with a jury. Then again, I doubt that enough evidence even still exists to convict anyone of these crimes.

Sickert is definately someone ripperologists should give a closer look.

Her evidence (or lack of) aside, Portrait of a Killer offers a rare view into the underbelly of Victorian England and a fairly entertaining read. ... Read more

114. Hell's Angels : A Strange and Terrible Saga (Modern Library)
list price: $19.95
our price: $13.57
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 067960331X
Catlog: Book (1999-12-07)
Publisher: Modern Library
Sales Rank: 159909
Average Customer Review: 3.72 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Gonzo journalist and literary roustabout Hunter S. Thompson flies with the angels--Hell's Angels, that is. He's lived with them, he knows them and their machines, he speaks their langauge,and he reports it back to the world with all the fearsome force of a souped-up cyclone burning rubber. ... Read more

Reviews (68)

5-0 out of 5 stars Hog Wild
Roll up your sleeves boys and girls, if you read Hell's Angels the Doctor is going to inject you with a dosage of Outlaw Reality and Hog Rage as it were. The Hell's Angels are the last vestiges of the American Outlaw, 1%'s they're called, outside the outside, committed to a life of Freedom, punctuated by violence, booze, barbituates, indiscriminate sex and of course cruising the Amercian Wastelands on their Great Metallic Steeds, stripped down Harley Davidson's known affectionately as Hogs. Hunter S. is in his own right a one percenter. This book shows the Dr. of Gonzo's journalistic zeal, as he braves the world of the Angels, driving not a Hog as he should but a Dark Shadow. This is only too perfect as Hunter is the dark specter following the dastardly deeds of these bastard bikers. This book displays Hunter's ballsy journalism, as well as allowing him to focus on a central theme that would go on to pervade his other works: the outlaw and his importance to American society, a society that is dredged to the hilt with phonies, gutless wonders, souless greedmongers, hypocrites, cowards, politicians and other scum, capitalisitc, bureacratic, pig-like and otherwise. Hell's Angels is the journalistic calm that precedes the storm of hallucinagenic brilliance that was Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. So one way or the other let the Doctor of Gonzo vaccinate your mind from the mindless surge that makes up the money grubbing, TV watching majority of this Great Country of Ours. (...)

4-0 out of 5 stars The stroy behind the emergence of Raoul Duke
This book, which is a fine read, seems to not quite follow the trend of dialogue style of the more recent Thompson books. It is much more of a documentary then a commentary. Hunter blazes off in a convertible following the ruthless swine who were the California Hell's Angels. The book documents a year that took place in the mid-sixties. Hunter tries his hardest to paint the Angels as innocent of various charges such as murder, kidnapping, and rape; he admits of course that they were there, but things usually just got out of hand, naturally. He became close friiends with a few and truely felt that there was an appeal of belonging to the tight nit group, that had more order to it than it was actually given credit for. This was the first point in his life that Hunter habitually used hard drugs, and I have to say that, personally, I think this was the adnventure that twisted our beloved Dr. Gonzo. The adventure comes to a sudden end as Hunter gets stomped senseless by a couple of Angels he didn't know to well. The moral of the story? The edge is out there, and no one strives to discover it more than the Hell's Angels, except maybe Hunter S. Thompson.

5-0 out of 5 stars This Isn't Your Typical Thompson
Having read Hell's Angels, A Strange and Terrible saga at least eight times starting in 1968, I never cease to be amazed at the criticisms leveled against it in the ensuing years, the major one being that it's not a Fear and Loathing book. I'm pretty sure it was originally a (very) long article written for The Nation magazine. The Nation ain't Rolling Stone, kids. If you are coming to this book expecting Hunter's usual blend of fact, fiction, and hallucinations, you will be sorely disappointed. "Gonzo journalist" though he is, the operative part there was journalist. He had, after all, developed a rather strong food habit since birth, and had no desire to kick it. He explores the Angels' mystique by letting them provide the history, their then current attitudes, and their lives as outlaws outside the system. He then blends research and his observations gleaned from riding with them for the better part of a year into the mix, producing a riveting book.

Since the recent death of Marlon Brando, his movie The Wild One has gained a new audience; it is in fact based on an incident Hunter chronicles in this book, the Rape of Hollister. Oddly, nothing remotely similar to the movie happened there, and some other legendary "motorcycle riots" such as the one at Laconia, New Hampshire, weren't initially riots at all, and certainly didn't involve the Angels, though the media portrayed these events as the brink of Armageddon and gave middle America yet another "dangerous group running wild in their midst," something else to freak over in addition to Communists hiding under every rock.

The Angels became, over time, what people expected them to be. Hunter recognized this transformational quality in his own profession: if other reporters, from respected national magazines, could make up stories or at least embellish them enough to freak people out, he could do it better! What you will find in Hell's Angels is great reporting, an unflinching look at real wildness and personal risk, and the genesis of what would become Hunter's trademark style.

If for no other reason, fans of Tom Wolfe, Ken Kesey, or the "Beats" (including the real "Dean Moriarty" from On the Road, still alive at the time, still driving, and hanging out with the Pranksters) should read this book for the legendary Acid Test at Kesey's place at La Honda when Hunter and the Angels showed up (by invitation, as Kesey was burning to meet them). In a singularly rare occurrence, we find two journalists just before they became instant icons writing about the same private party, rather than, say an inauguration, or awards ceremony, or some other public spectacle; the "public" was definitely not invited to La Honda. Compare Hunter's account of that weekend with the one that appears in the Electric Kool Aid Acid Test; you might just be surprised by who is the more "legitimate" writer.

I obviously love this book and highly recommend it, but again, it isn't FEAR and LOATHING WITH THE HELL'S ANGELS; it's far too serious a situation for that, as you will discover upon reading it. (And if that idea somehow still escapes you, watch Gimme Shelter, the great Maysles brothers' documentary of the Stones free concert at Altamont; if THAT doesn't do it, go down to your local biker bar and kick over a few choppers; you'll deserve what you get.)

1-0 out of 5 stars Hunter S. Thompson is an a$$hole.
This guy is a self-inflating ballon. No one and nothing is as important in his eyes as he is. His opinion of himself and the world around him is all that really matters. His ability to cunningly insinuate himself into the minds of others dramatically increases the danger he poses. If you have the misfortune to be assigned one of his books in a college class, lament that no one has made "Cliff Notes."

5-0 out of 5 stars Hells Angels
I really should like Hunter Thompson more than I do, I mean he did ride a BSA and he is from my hometown of Louisville, Ky but to be honest he's always seemed kind of faggy to me with that gay filtered cigarette thing hanging from his mouth, plus there's that whole bizarre chapter he dedicated to finding a link between outlaw bikers and homosexuality. Hey what can I say, the guy sets my gaydar off. But I will give him credit, he did write a true classic in Hell's Angels. I've heard grumblings that he sacrificed reality for entertainment value by making some of the HA's into exagerated caricatures of themselves in this book, but whether thats true or not this is a great read. ... Read more

115. Blood Washes Blood: A True Story of Love, Murder, and Redemption Under the Sicilian Sun
by Frank Viviano
list price: $14.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0671041592
Catlog: Book (2002-04-04)
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Sales Rank: 232966
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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In 1995, two years after his grandfather whispered the name of his great-great-grandfather's killer to him, Frank Viviano visited Sicily to learn the events that shaped his namesake's life and strongly influenced his own. Nicknamed "The Monk" for the garments he wore while robbing the rich and bureaucratic, Viviano's ancestor left little for the experienced foreign correspondent to follow. Plus, the slow-jolt journey of Sicilian lifestyles often ended in polite reticence or remarkable disorganization; even rudimentary information, such as his predecessor's gravesite, was lost. In a "morbid tidying up," Mussolini's local officials removed the remains of all pre-Fascists: "In their zeal to launch the new millennium, the fascisti hadn't bothered to keep lists of the disinterred. The old tombstones were dumped into the sea, next to the limestone blocks that the fishermen referred to as 'Atlantis.'"

In between assignments in Bosnia and the West Bank, Viviano learned to take a less direct approach. Guided by stories told to him in his childhood by his grandmother, he demystifies the region's bandit-rebel history, its current life under the sistema, and its creation of the modern Italian mafia. Viviano was already aware of his family's supposed connections to the mafia,causing him to look more carefully at the times that produced these men. In the process, he began to take a closer look at his own personal life:

The dramatic narrative of ancestry is not erased by immigration. It is driven into a clandestine realm where setting and characters are only dimly recalled, or transformed into fairy-tale heroes and villains in the landscape of fable. The Monk, in this sense, had withdrawn into my grandparents' tales and the isolated recesses of my imagination, into hidden canyons where I could not directly confront him.

Suspenseful and well balanced, Blood Washes Blood is an exciting and thoughtful page-turner, a remarkable story of family, mystery, and friendship. Viviano's writing is at its best when he follows the complicated trail of his family's past, and falters only slightly when he attempts to imagine his ancestor's life. --Karin Rosman ... Read more

Reviews (15)

5-0 out of 5 stars Fantastic!
I highly recommend Blood Washes Blood.While it may be a bit dark and heavy for a summer read, it is definitely worth any time or money spent in the endeavor.
Mr. Viviano has a gift with non-fiction unlike any other writer of this genre I have ever read.His story unfolds like a novel, fascinating in its characters and settings and yet all the more immediate because it is true.
Mr. Viviano traces his family's history and his own journey of self-discovery through the winding streets of Sicily, uncovering a few secrets and finding even more along the way.
At times his prose is almost too real, too painful and private, but it creates an intense bond with the reader.
In short, don't pick up this book expecting a quick read.Yes, it is riveting, but at times a little overwhelming as well.The highest praise I can give Blood Washes Blood was that it left me with plenty to think about once it was finished, and a lingering interest in Sicily and its history.
Mr. Vivano has had articles recently in publications such as National Geographic, and I highly recommend readers to search out more of his work.You won't be disappointed.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
Having come of age in St. Louis, and marrying into a Sicilian American family, all the "old stories" and legends were the makings for any family get together.Blood Washes Blood brought so many of the old stories to life and was even more compelling to read than The Godfather because it was a family with a familiar name.

On his deathbed, Frank Viviano's grandfather whispers an old family secret to him.The secret leads Mr. Vivano, back to Sicily and to a search for answers that seem to elude him.His curiosity as a foreign correspondent for the San Francisco Chronicle well prepares him to do the research and fuel his interest in exploring what happened to the great grandfather known as The Monk.

My husband and his brothers recently traveled to Sicily and spent several days in Terrasini and Cinisi looking into old records of their ancestors.Unfortunately their trip took place before we discovered Blood Washes Blood.Mr. Viviano turns the old stories into living history.Thanks for the book, our family all enjoyed reading it.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I've ever read
This book is the most evocative, brilliant book I have read in years.(And as an English professor , I have read a lot.)First, it is an autobiographical story of a first generation Sicilian American who can find no peace in our restless, rootless culture.He goes to Sicily to find his roots, and more to find the answer to a family mystery of murder.But that is just the skeleton.The book moves on several levels simultaneously:the personal quest; the nature of Sicilian culture described with a spirit of place that would have done D.H. Lawrence proud; the historical origins of the systema or Mafia told without bias, realistically and sympathetically and the story of the modern destruction of folklife everywhere.All of these strands are woven more brilliantly than any novel I have read in years.And this is not a novel; it is truth.If I may add on a personal note:I am the widow of a first generation Sicilian American whom I loved and tried to understand for over 40 years.This book has helped pull together some of the puzzling pieces of the Sicilian character. Please Mr. Viviano, please use your enormous talent to write more books of this type.

5-0 out of 5 stars Sicily at its truth
Yes, this is Sicily... at least at its least extents. Everybody knows but nobody speaks, trust noone, strange behaviour.... but a strong friendship, an enormous respect for elders... all inside one of the most hard but beatiful country in the world. And Frank replicates these feeling in his book, telling a true story that will keep you glued to the book up to the very last page. Also very educative on the historic side, will make you love to see Sicily more than ever.

5-0 out of 5 stars emotional inheritance with suspense and honesty
This book mesmerized me. It was good history, good literature, and good psychology wrapped into one. The author tries to understand himself by negotiating over crumbling Sicilian ledger books with tyrannical Sicilian bureaucrats. What he finds leads to the best analysis of Mafia history and psychology I've ever encountered.
Whether or not you're interested in the Mafia, you couldn't find better insight into how human beings are shaped over the generations by the interplay of culture and history. Yet you will read this book like a detective novel.
The author does not try to put a good face on himself, his family, or Sicilian culture. Nor does he push some re-tread theories to explain their shortcomings.He's just presenting the facts as he stumbles across them. How he puts the facts together make the book feel exciting yet absolutely true. He paints an honest picture of human psychology, human families, and human governments - but in such an entertaining way that I think it would be compelling whether or not this is your family culture.
As someone who is from this culture (Partinico), I can attest that he has nailed it perfectly. ... Read more

116. Into the Water
by Diane Fanning
list price: $6.99
our price: $6.29
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312985266
Catlog: Book (2004-06-14)
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
Sales Rank: 37477
Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

To authorities she spilled the shocking details of a night of horror. It was the lead they'd been desperate for in a multi-state manhunt for an elusive serial killer. Where the witness took them was to the last man anyone would have suspected.

Richard Marc Evonitz was beloved by friends and family. He was handsome, intelligent, and compassionate. Serving a spotless eight years in the U.S. Navy, he was a town hero who lived in harmony in an exclusive South Carolina neighborhood. The only ones who saw Evonitz's dark side were his victims. They were helpless teenage girls who, one by one, were subjected to his twisted sexual fantasies of kidnap, rape, and murder-until his double life came undone by the brave cunning of his last young victim. But as authorities and the media descended upon him, Evonitz had one more shocking surprise in store for everyone-a stunning final act of violence and reckoning that would turn a bright sunlit morning blood red.
... Read more

Reviews (4)

3-0 out of 5 stars A Good Book In General
"Into The Water" is the horrifying, true story of a case that haunted Virginia for years. When Sofia, Kristin and Kati were murdered, and months turned to year with no break in the case, people wondered if it would ever be solved. In 2002 Virgnians got the news they longed to hear: Spotsylvania slayings solved! It was solved because of one brave girl who escaped the killer. While I firmly believe Spotsylvania authorities, such as Howard, did their best to find the killer, it all comes down to the fact that Kara's courage brought down this monster. If you are from Virginia, especially the Spotsylvania area, this book is not really worth reading since it is basically everything that was in the newspapers. However if you aren't familiar with this case, you must read this book. And out of honor and respect for Sofia, Kristin and Kati, I believe after reading the book people should donate to a missing child organization. Just my two cents.

Though factually accurate, INTO THE WATER does not add much texture to the story that everyone in Spotsylvania County, Virginia lived from 1996 to 2002. Richard Marc Evonitz remains largely a mystery. Yes, it was proved that he murdered Sophia Silva, and Kristen and Kati Lisk, but inquiries into what made and drove him were largely left to reader speculation.

To read this book you would think that Major Howard Smith single-handedly solved these dreadful murders. Since when does the second in command of a sheriff's office of roughly 100 deputies solve anything? This signals another problem with the book itself: Not thoroughly researched. There were a lot of investigators from local, state and federal agencies assigned to the task force investigating the Lisk/Silva murders. Those that were assigned and worked on aspects of the case every day for six years weren't even mentioned by name. Major Smith's appearances were limited at best, and did not show a marked improvement until Evonitz became the focus of the investigation.

Also disturbing is the parading of quotes by the same group of former FBI profiler clowns that appear as talking heads on every true crime feature story or docudrama filmed: Ressler, McCrary, and Douglas. "Former" implies they would not have access to case material, yet that didn't stop them from posting their opinions in chatrooms and in the media. Aren't these the same guys that said the DC snipers (two black males), were a lone, disgruntled white guy? Despite spouting their standard vagaries about what "might" eventually be found they offered nothing but empty speculation.

Additionally, the in-depth reporting is so sparse, the author had to include snippets of other unsolved crimes occurring in the area to keep it flowing and interesting. Unsolved crimes that were never proven to be the work of Evonitz. I guess they were added to get the body and page count up.

Though the Lisks and Silvas received some measure of closure with Evonitz committing suicide at the moment of his apprehension, and the subsequent forensic proof that he murdered the three girls in Spotsylvania, a distinct tragedy remains: There may well be other crimes for which Evonitz was responsible, but the families of those victims will never know that the perpetrator is dead and their daughters can rest in peace.

This is not a book of great detective work. It was dumb luck. Kara, the brave girl who escaped Evonitz and the fate of the those before her is to be commended. Fortunately the cops in South Carolina shared her information and plight, which led to Evonitz popping up on the radar screen in Virginia.

But this reader is left with a haunting thought: If Major Smith and the Spotsylvania County investigators had done a better job investigating the June 1995 rape of a 13 year old, before three girls were murdered, all of it might have been prevented.

Very readable, but this work should have been more in-depth in exploring the background and psyche of Evonitz. May he roast in hell.

5-0 out of 5 stars Captivating!
Diane Fanning has done it again. The author's vivid description and dramatic storytelling allows us to step into the story and watch as it unfolds all around us, from the perspectives of all those involved. Readers can feel the emotions as deeply as an outsider ever could--from the victims and their families and friends to the law enforcement officials working the cases...from the friends, family members and neighbors of Richard Marc Evonitz to the man himself. The details are terrific; the pictures are chilling...Fanning masterfully weaves the detached stories of the victims' lives together in a cohesive story that is very easy to follow. The Afterword is a powerful closure that not only serves as a brilliant memorial to the young ladies we'll never know, but a cautionary tale to mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, and friends everywhere.

5-0 out of 5 stars A chilling read for any parent
After reading Diane Fanning's 'Through the Window: The Terrifying Story of Cross-Country Killer Tommy Lynn Sells', I rushed back to Amazon to order 'Into the Water', and I was not disappointed. This book makes one wonder who our neighbors really are, as Marc Evonitz appeared to be a hard-working community activist. Unfortunately for young girls in the neighborhood, he had a dark side. This book twists and turns until the very end.

Diane Fanning has a clear and concise writing style, and never gets bogged down in minutiae. Her ability to turn a phrase so that the reader can picture the scene is uncanny. 'Into the Water' is definitely a winner for fans of True Crime. ... Read more

117. Contrabando : Confessions of a Drug-Smuggling Texas Cowboy
by Don Henry Ford Jr.
list price: $21.95
our price: $14.93
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0938317857
Catlog: Book (2004-10-15)
Publisher: Cinco Puntos Press
Sales Rank: 14404
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Don Henry Ford, Jr. is a Texas cowboy, rancher and farmer. In the late 1970s, he was foreman of his father's ranch and farm in West Texas along the Pecos River. The ranch was going broke. The bankers were knocking at the door. Don went to his Mexican hands, the same guys who were the connection for his own marijuana--smoking inclinations, and they directed him to their contacts on the other side of the Rio Grande. Soon, he was scoring some easy money and he was hooked. For the next seven years, he made his living as an outlaw, smuggling marijuana across the U.S./Mexico border in the Big Bend region. Millions of dollars passed through his hands. He did business with many of the big-name narcotraficantes of the era like Pablo Acosta and Amado Carrillo Fuentes. After being arrested and sent to prison, he escaped and lived for a year in rural northern Mexico, raising a bumper crop of marijuana and hiding out from the federales. Contrabando is a confession, but it's also an homage to the Mexican paisanos and, indeed, to other outlaws north of the border who became Don Ford's friends and protectors during his seven years as a smuggler.

Charles Bowden (author of Down by the River, Simon & Schuster, 2003) has written a remarkable introduction to Contrabando, giving an historical perspective to the never-ending "war on drugs" waged by the U.S. government.

In December 1986, the feds caught Don Henry Ford a second time. He was sentenced to 15 years in a maximum security federal penitentiary. He now lives in Seguin, Texas, farming and raising race horses.

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Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars An Intriguing Story, From Start To Finish
Not too long ago I was on a hiking trip in the middle of the near-desert of West Texas. On the verge of exhaustian and still fifteen miles from my destination, a friendly driver pulled over and offered me a ride. Before long he was talking about his old life, the life of an outlaw, smuggling drugs across the border in the dead of night, running from the police, breaking out of prison, hiding from the Mexican Government and living through a shootout with major drug runners such as Pablo Acosta. Standing on the side of a deserted farm road in the middle of nowhere, this man introduced himself to me as Don Henry Ford, Jr., author, social activist, cowboy, ex-convict, ex-drug smuggler. I was a bit skeptical of his story at first, yet the manner in which he told it didn't leave much room for disbelief. After he took his leave I made my way home again and immediately went to this site -- sure enough, here it is: Contrabando by Don Henry Ford, Jr. I couldn't wait to read it, and found that the wait was indeed worthwile.

Mr. Ford's is truly an amazing story, and the fact that he lived to tell it at all is even more astounding. From his first attempt at purchasing marijuana, ending in a run-in with the Mexican Police, to being set up by the DA, to the shootout with Pablo Acosta, to the rich description of life in rural Mexico, this book will entertain you from start to finish. More so, it will inform you of a culture that exists today on the fringes of society, a culture that is ignored by most and looked down upon by almost all. You will not regret the purchase of Contrabando in the least.

5-0 out of 5 stars Enlightening and entertaining without being heavy.
Contrabando is a real life account of a Texas cowboy/farmer who began smuggling to save the farm. It escalates quickly into tales of murder, danger, corruption, and hilarity. There are many characters that settle in the badlands and their stories are told without judgement or prejudice here. The book is an easy read yet precisely descriptive. The author paints beautiful pictures of the almost uninhabitable deserts and mountains of Texas and Mexico. Throughout the book are incredible tales of survival and an informal philosophical commentary which really helps one to understand the mechanics of the drug trade. This book offers a perspective seldom heard which is the true force of human nature. This natural human survival is pointedly at odds with societal and governmental policies concrning the drug trade. That conflict is addressed honestly and without moral judgement in the book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Live to tell the tale
In Contrabando, Don Henry Ford tells the story of his 10 years as a marijuana smuggler on the Texas-Coahuila border. He recounts a period of his life that reveals the prehistory of the border drug trade. As a freelancer, Ford brushed up against the likes of Pablo Acosta and Amado Carrillo, but in contrast to their star power, he remained in the shadows.

This book does not pussyfoot around the hard facts of the drug business and the economic ruin that forces so many into it, in both Mexico and the United States. Some will say that the things in this book can't be true, but that is because they don't go there. Some people DO go there, but Don Henry Ford is the only one to come back to write about it.

And he can really write! Like earth smells--beans frying in lard over a wood fire, coffee under crystal stars, green-sweet stickiness as he pinches seed heads on a crop, dank ruin as storms strip $600,000 of ripe cotton from its stalks, the hard rush of ozone and adrenalin as he pulls his daughters from an angry river in flood, blood-in-the-mouth fear in a dealer's motel room or a Mexican cave or a federal prison cell. And the warmth of caring for people and horses and making things grow. He's a writer who lives and breathes grit and blood and life itself.

And it's hard to argue with a witness like Don Henry Ford, a man who spent years enmeshed in the dark entrails of the business. And lived to tell the tale.
... Read more

118. Mafia Dynasty: The Rise and Fall of the Gambino Crime Family
by John H. Davis
list price: $7.99
our price: $7.19
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0061091847
Catlog: Book (1994-06-01)
Publisher: HarperTorch
Sales Rank: 78119
Average Customer Review: 3.97 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The Gambinos--they arrived in America from Sicily when the `20's roared with bootleg liquor.For thirty years they fought a bloody battle for control of New York's underworld to emerge as the nation's richest and most powerful crime family.Now Mafia expert John H. Davis tells their compelling inside story.

Here are the chilling details and deceptions that created a vast criminal empire.Here are six decades of the uncontrolled greed and lust for power of such men as Lucky Luciano, Frank Costello, Meyer Lansky, Vito Genovese, Albert Anastasia, Carlo Gambino, Paul Castellano, and John Gotti--men for whom murder and betrayal were business as usual.From the Gambinos' powerful stranglehold on New York's construction, garment, and waterfront industries to the government's onslaught against them in the `80s and `90s, Mafia Dynasty takes you into the mysterious world of blood oaths, shifting alliances, and deadly feuds that will hold you riveted from the first page to the last.

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Reviews (30)

5-0 out of 5 stars A solid Mafia history
I picked this book up on a whim. I had just read the Westies and I wanted to learn more about the Italian mafia. Well this book was probably the best I could have picked up for an overview and it led me to some other more cetralized books. I see a lot of reviewers have complained that it centers too much on Gotti and yes this is true. In fact the book mostly focuses on Gotti and Castellano. I feel this is because there isn't much to go on for the older bosses in the way of written history. Davis does a good job of piecing together bits to create a history of the Cosa Nostra from the turn of the century to Carlo Gambino. You can tell that information is pretty scarce because he moves quickly through the bosses and the histroy and you get to Castellano after like 200 pages. Most of Davis's information comes from Gotti's and Castellano's tapes. Therefore the remainder of the book gets very detail oriented and recounts much of the history at a pretty rapid pace. One thing I think Davis could have done better would have to not be so repetitive about quotes. He used many of Gotti's and Castellano's quotes from the tapes and testimony over and over. But if you are looking for a solid history and are new to this genre of reading then this is probably the best you can find. Then if you want more precise novels pick up; Boss of Bosses, Bound By Honor, The Westies, Wiseguy, Donnie Brasco, Underboss, etc...

4-0 out of 5 stars Captivating; Excellent; Too Much Gotti!
I was quite captivated by Davis' story of the Gambino crime family. The book is an excellent read, highly captivating, and fascinating. If you have never read any books about the Mafia or John Gotti, then this is simply one good book to read. I have read several books about the Mafia, so there are a few things I would have preferred. I believe Davis glossed over, too quickly, the early rise of the Gambino crime family. I would have liked to have learned more about the early crime bosses and would have preferred more background about how they got to were they were.

Only about 1/3 of the book covers the rise of the Gambino family and its godfathers. Therefore, I believe, Davis skimmed over much of the history to hurry and arrive at the Gotti dynasty. I believe, as other reviewers do, that there is too much history about Gotti; too much detail about his trials; and too much relying upon the infamous tapes.

Nevertheless, the book is quite readable. Read it if you are a beginning Mafia reader.

1-0 out of 5 stars Awful
Well John H. Davis has proven there is life after being a press secretary for John F. Kennedy. The president also happened to be married to his cousin. Of course thats been over 40 years ago and Davis has now decided to become a true crime author.

This book has to be the most trumped up organized crime/true crime book to date. Davis takes rather common knowledge to the average mob researcher for individuals for the three main 'characters' Carlo Gambino, Paul Castellano and John Gotti. There is nothing revealing or of noteworthy in this book. Davis did very little research, splicing other book sources and the most notable was 'Boss of Bosses'.

Nice try John but no cigar and when have you become a mob expert?

1-0 out of 5 stars What?
Least factually accurate mafia book I've ever read.

4-0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and Informative
This book is very well written and detailed. It is about 500 pages covering mainly the Gambinos in earlier parts, including Joseph and Thomas. There is some overlap with the other New York families. As one proceeds through the book, attention shifts to Gotti and it becomes a story about him. It covers his trials and the eventual exclusion of Bruce Cutler from his defence, and of course the flip by the "bull" to work for the prosecution. Maloney and other prosecutors are included. All quite interesting and well executed (if I can use that phrase in this book review).

I read this book along with a few other selected books which seem to follow a downfall in the garbage collection monopoly, and the decline on garment district trucking business, meat and fish markets all about the same time in the late 1980's early 1990's when "the chin" Gigante was also sent to jail and the Genovese family slipped. This book gives just a partial view and you need to read more to get the complete picture of the evolution from the docks to control of trucking and hijacking.

Good book on the subject, holds the reader, and suggest read related books also. At least three or four stars.

Jack in Toronto ... Read more

119. Women, Murder and Justice
by Wendy Chan
list price: $95.00
our price: $95.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0333760786
Catlog: Book (2001-03-21)
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
Sales Rank: 826384
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Book Description

Women, Murder and Justice examines from a feminist perspective, the legal treatment of women who kill their partners in England. Through an exploration of Crown Prosecution Service files, an in-depth comparative examination of the circumstances in which women and men kill is provided. The book highlights gender differences in the act of murder, the criminal justice system's negotiation of these differences, and the development of feminist strategies to alter the legal structure for women who kill.
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120. Cook for a Day: Eat for a Month : Frozen Assets Readers' Favorite
by Deborah Taylor-Hough
list price: $25.00
our price: $15.75
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1891400185
Catlog: Book (2003-03-10)
Publisher: Champion Press (Mi)
Sales Rank: 31877
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Never wonder What’s for Dinner? again.

Save hundreds of dollars, minutes and headaches by preparing a month’s worth of tasty homemade meals in a single day.

Deborah Taylor-Hough established herself as the quintessential expert of once-a-month-cooking in her first two bestsellers, Cook for a Day, Eat for a Month: Frozen Assets and Cook for a Day, Eat for a Month: Frozen Assets Lite & Easy.

In this new collection you’ll find everything you need to implement this economical and nutritious system.

> Choose from over 100 freezer-friendly recipes! In addition to Deborah’s tried and true favorites you’ll find favorites from her readers.
> Follow her easy 12 step plan to customize your own monthly menu.
> Includes a special section of vegetarian recipes.
> Learn how to save time with kitchen preparation tips and tricks.
> Discover which foods freeze well and which don’t; learn all about storage options and much more!
> If one month of meals is intimidating, start small with one of Deborah’s "Mini-Sessions."
> Includes weekly plans with complete shopping lists. Choose one week or combine them for a month of menus.

If you’ve been looking for a way to change the way you cook and put an end to the question of What’s for dinner? you’ve found it! ... Read more

Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars What a great cookbook!
This is a great cookbook! I have made a few dozen recipes from this book and everyone is a crowd pleaser at my house. You won't be sorry if you buy this cookbook. ... Read more

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