The Calabrese family of Chicago is a close-knit, middle-class, multi-generational Italian-Irish-American clan. They operate family businesses. They work day and night striving for the American Dream. All three sons forge a bond with their controlling father, Frank Sr., and their soft-spoken favorite uncle, Nick. As a boy, the oldest son, Frank Jr., realizes that his father and uncle are also "made" members of another close-knit family: the outfit.
In Operation Family Secrets, Frank Calabrese, Jr., tells the turbulent tale of a family dominated by a violent patriarch who breaks a long-standing unwritten outfit code and "brings the street into his home" by enlisting two of his sons into the outfit's 26th Street/Chinatown crew. Calabrese reveals for the first time the outfit's "made" ceremony and describes being put to work alongside his father and uncle in loan sharking, gambling, labor racketeering, and extortion, and plotting the slaying of a fellow gangster, while they commit the bombing murder of a trucking executive, the gangland execution of two mobsters whose burial in an Indiana cornfield was reenacted in Martin Scorsese's blockbuster film Casino, and numerous other hits.
The Calabrese crew's colossal earnings and extreme ruthlessness made them both a dreaded criminal gang and the object of an intense FBI inquiry. Eventually Frank Jr., his father, and Uncle Nick are convicted on racketeering violations, and "Junior" and "Senior" are sent to the same federal penitentiary in Michigan. Upon arrival, Frank Jr. makes a life-changing decision: to go straight rather than agree to his father's plans to resume crew activities after serving his sentence. But he needs to keep his father behind bars in order to regain control of his life and save his family. Frank Jr. makes a secret deal with prosecutors, and for six months - unmonitored and unprotected - he wears a wire as his father recounts decades of hideous crimes.
©2011 Frank Calabrese, Junior, Keith Zimmerman, Kent Zimmerman, and Paul Pompian (P)2011 Tantor
"An undeniably engaging tale, capturing the nitty-gritty of daily life in the 'crews' of the Outfit. A useful and readable addition to Mob Lit." (Kirkus)
I love the fact that Frank Jr. opens his heart and mind in this book. I was able to equate his thought processes to those I see with people who are "chronically abused". He shows his humanity most when he repeatedly holds out the hope that the man he loves as father will change his ways. Even when I was saying to myself "No way in hell is he going to change." after the fourth time Frank Jr. expressed the hope that ...maybe this time... It just doesn't happen when an abuser does not equate themselves with being abusive. Frank Sr. abused in every facet of his life and the lives of his family members.
I like that he consistently shows his humanity as he repeatedly holds out the hope that the man he loves as father will change his ways. Even when I was saying to myself "No way in hell is he going to change." after the fourth time Frank Jr. expressed the hope that ...maybe this time... It just doesn't happen when an abuser does not equate themselves with being abusive. Frank Sr. abused whatever he possibly could in every facet of his life and the lives of his family members.
There was no favorite scene, the entire book had me in suspense! Listening to this book was like experiencing the aftermath of a natural disaster. Stunning surprise after stunning surprise, except instead of being an act of nature, this is with the behaviors of a man with no conscience who does his best to work people like puppets.
I am glad that Frank Jr. was able to weigh his choices, recognize and do what needed to be done to ensure the safety of himself and his family... and probably a whole lot more even generations of people.
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