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Five Families Audiobook

Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires

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Publisher's Summary

Genovese, Gambino, Bonnano, Colombo, and Lucchese. For decades these Five Families ruled New York and built the American Mafia (or Cosa Nostra) into an underworld empire. Today, the Mafia is an endangered species, battered and beleaguered by aggressive investigators, incompetent leadership, betrayals, and generational changes that produced violent, unreliable leaders and recruits. A 20-year assault against the five families in particular blossomed into the most successful law enforcement campaign of the last century.

Selwyn Raab's Five Families is the vivid story of the rise and fall of New York's premier dons, from Lucky Luciano to Paul Castellano to John Gotti and more. The book also brings the listener right up to the possible resurgence of the Mafia as the FBI and local law enforcement agencies turn their attention to homeland security and away from organized crime.

©2005 Selwyn Raab (P)2015 Tantor

What the Critics Say

"This masterpiece stands an excellent chance of becoming a bestseller with crossover appeal beyond devoted watchers of The Sopranos." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.4 (384 )
5 star
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3 star
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Overall
4.4 (339 )
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Story
4.4 (341 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Rik B Hamilton Ohio 12-30-15
    Rik B Hamilton Ohio 12-30-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great!"

    Love me some mob stuff! I've been fascinated with La Cosa Nostra since I was a teen in the 80's. I've read many books and have watched everything I know of concerning it. I'm not as expert level as Selwyn Raab, though I'm well informed. This is a great and fairly deep history of the American mob. Starting with it's roots in Sicily on through to the 00's. I learned of many "characters" and tidbits about the dysfunctional mob family that I didn't know of before, which thrilled me. I put it on at a random spot at night and listen to stories until I fall asleep. For me it's well worth the price of admission.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jimmy Shelton 04-29-16 Member Since 2016
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    "Great book"

    Great book. Very detailed without becoming boring. Gives you a sense of key mobsters character. I'll probably listen to it again soon.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Hugh R. Williams 10-29-15 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A very good history of the mob"
    Would you listen to Five Families again? Why?

    Yes, Raab is an excellent author and is an expert in this field. Also, I like the narrator.


    What does Paul Costanzo bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    He adds drama and pace to an already interesting story.


    If you could give Five Families a new subtitle, what would it be?

    A real history of the Mafia.


    Any additional comments?

    I was very happy that I bought this book. I highly recommend to anyone who is interested in the Mafia.

    8 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ruth Columbus, OH, United States 10-01-16
    Ruth Columbus, OH, United States 10-01-16 Member Since 2012
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    "Narrator pacing makes this a difficult listen"

    I'm only 8 hours into this mammoth book, so can't comment on its entirety, but I have to take a break for a few days. The narrator has a clear and pleasant voice, but he puts very tiny pauses in the wrong places, especially with dependent clauses. That makes the phrase seem like it belongs to either the previous or following sentence. It becomes very irritating.

    Also, this is just too long. There is a lot of interesting material, but I think it would be one book I'd prefer to have in an abridged version.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Niskanen Finland 04-24-16
    J. Niskanen Finland 04-24-16 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "Disappointed"

    Crimelibrary or Wikipedia is superior. Cut'n'paste drivel, mashed up articles. stay away.. disappointed to say the least, the amount of repetition is staggering.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sam Fredericks 02-09-16 Member Since 2016
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    "Enlightening"

    After listening to this I feel like I've just taken Mafia 101. Included is a history of Cosa Nostra in New York, including a biography of main players, reactions and tactics of law enforcement, a basic introduction to he rackets or the ways the mob makes money, it's structures, and hours of entertainment. I personally found it riveting and finished it very quickly. If you've been at all interested in the Mafia at some point in your life and want to delve into the whole, fascinating story, than I highly recommend this.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Adventure Boy Los Angeles 01-26-16
    Adventure Boy Los Angeles 01-26-16 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "100 years of mafia headlines"

    The book tries to cover the entire history of the mafia in New York since 1900. Even though the book is very long, it only has time to skim the surface. It also makes the book seem repititious, as mobster after mobster engages in the same loan sharking or union tampering, and vies for promotion. There is very little new in this book that has not already appeared in the press. The writing is clear and the narrator is good, but this was a disappointment.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Raglan, New Zealand 10-13-16
    Mark Raglan, New Zealand 10-13-16 Member Since 2015

    I love listening to books when cycling, paddleboarding, etc but I press pause when I need to concentrate. Its safer & I don't lose the plot!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "7326451"

    To be perfectly honest, one of the reasons I chose this book was that I’m getting towards the end of my credits for this year, and so I was looking for a long book. I’m quite interested and curious about the mafia, and so, at 33 hours, I thought this would be a good listen.

    It has many merits: It’s a pretty comprehensive account of organised crime in America in centuries 20-21, and it can't have been an easy story to unearth. The Cosa Nostra has been a phenomenally secretive and devious organisation throughout its lifespan. All members of the fraternity are bound by their most sacred rule ‘Omerta’- meaning, literally, ‘being a man’, but in practical terms ‘Omerta’ refers to secrecy rather than manliness; a strict code of silence, under pain of death, to which all Mafiosi are sworn.

    There’s a certain amount of romanticism surrounding the Mafia. I’m as much a sucker for this as the next person. I realise it’s probably the result of gangster movies from the thirties with stars like Edward G Robinson and Jimmy Cagney, and, more recently, the brilliant 'Godfather trilogy'. In the early years the mafia gained a foothold by providing some popular services deemed illegal by a prudish establishment. They provided alcohol during prohibition and facilitated gambling – banned by the government but craved by the populace.

    The public was happy to turn a blind eye to this criminal activity and often saw the mafia as the good guys and the authorities as the bad guys - But in reality the mafia have always been a very nasty bunch of people, heaping misery on the everyday American, a parasite on the backs of honest, hardworking citizens.

    This book tells that story. The authors overcame the secrecy barrier by researching the evidence from rare cases where 'Omerta' was compromised – most of it coming from the few Mafiosi persuaded to testify against their fellow mobsters - and from wire taps. All credit to the authors for finding and collating this information.

    But it takes more than this to make a really good listening experience. It isn’t enough for all the information to be there in the book, it also needs to be in a coherent order.

    I’m sorry to say that, here, it isn’t. So many times I lost track and thought ‘who are we talking about now?’ and ‘where does this bit fit into the big narrative?’

    It felt like ‘7326451’ instead of ‘1234567’.

    Verdict: Definitely worth a listen – I did learn a lot about the mafia – but the story was out of order.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeff Bornstein Orlando, Florida 12-05-16
    Jeff Bornstein Orlando, Florida 12-05-16 Member Since 2016

    Jeff B

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    "Big on Details, thorough"

    I found the book a little plodding caught up in details but well researched. More of a history lesson than a thrilling read. Good narration. Writing was lofty in that as an aficionado for seldom used but accurate words this work reaches a little too far. I actually would like to make a list of illustrious and uncommonly used words in the book such as Fief.
    You learn of the goings on of both sides of the law in this work.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jean Sioux Falls, SD, United States 11-30-16
    Jean Sioux Falls, SD, United States 11-30-16
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Long but Interesting"

    I gave this a five. In terms of research it should get a ten. I must say, I am glad I am not being tested n this information. There are too many racketeers of whom to keep track; it's a long enough book that after a while the who is who is over taxed. Still, it is a good read. My eyes have been opened; I will never be able to think of urban crime on such a niave level again. The last chapter is important. I wish everyone would read it.
    Bravo to both the author and the narrator!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • J W.
    12/3/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent"
    Would you listen to Five Families again? Why?

    I'd listen to this again Because, not only is it the best book I've ever read about the Cosa Nostra in the United States, engagingly written and well-researched, but the narration is superb.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The subject has always fascinated me, and in The Five Families the author, Selwyn Raab, has literally created a 'one-stop-shop' for the history of the Mafia in America.


    Have you listened to any of Paul Costanzo’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    I've not listened to any other of the narrator's performances, but I will. He is excellent. He doesn't try to do accents and dialects - he reads the book in a lively and thoughtful way.


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    This is the one...


    Any additional comments?

    This is destined to be one of my favourites.

    10 of 12 people found this review helpful
  • William
    LARKHALL, United Kingdom
    3/18/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    ""Superb""
    If you could sum up Five Families in three words, what would they be?

    Well narrated, Interesting, informative,


    What other book might you compare Five Families to, and why?

    Mob Boss: The Life of Little Al D'arco, the Man Who Brought Down the Mafia, Along similar lines but different story and a different perspective of the life.


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    "The Five Families: The money the lies and the killing’s from Bensonhurst to Broadway"


    Any additional comments?

    Superb book couldn’t recommend it highly enough.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Andrew
    4/14/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Interesting and well-written history"
    Any additional comments?

    This is the first book I've listened to (or read) on the subject. Fascinating, well-written, and well-narrated.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • ryan cusdin
    12/4/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Exceptional"

    The best book I've never read. Absolutely fascinating insight into the underworld. I highly recommend this audiobook.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • C. J. Moore
    NORWICH, NORFOLK United Kingdom
    11/9/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "great book and story but.."
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    A wonderful story very well told,shame the writers political bias is over done.
    but it didnt affect my enjoyment of the book.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Five Families?

    the back story of the RICO act.


    What does Paul Costanzo bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    Yes he is a great voice actor.


    Was Five Families worth the listening time?

    yes very good listen.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Michal
    9/30/16
    Overall
    "essential reading"

    This book is essential reading for anyone interested in the mafia some great chapters of various mobsters. Selwyn Rabb is a true mafia historian and authority on all things Cosa Nostra.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    6/21/16
    Overall
    "great book very well read and entertaining"

    a who's who's from the start of mafia families leaves no stone unturned from the early days to the present day

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Steve
    England
    4/16/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Interesting but 10 hours too long"

    After recently listening to Puzo's Godfather I thought it would be interesting to research the truth behind the stories.

    This book is incredibly informative and detailed almost to a fault. The result is a very well written and narrated book that seems to go on forever. from about 20 hours in it became a bit of a slog to finish it.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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