On December 11th, 1978, a daring armed robbery rocked Kennedy Airport, resulting in the largest unrecovered cash haul in world history, totaling six million dollars. The perpetrators were never apprehended and thirteen people connected to the crime were murdered in homicides that, like the crime itself, remain unsolved to this day. The burglary has fascinated the public for years, dominating headlines around the globe due to the story's unending ravel of mysteries that baffled the authorities. One of the organizers of the sensational burglary, Henry Hill, who passed away in 2012, in collaboration with Daniel Simone, has penned an unprecedented "tell-all" about the robbery with never-before-unveiled details, particulars only known to an insider. In 2013, this infamous criminal act again flared up in the national news when five reputed gangsters were charged in connection to the robbery. This latest twist lends the project an extraordinary sense of timing, and the legal proceedings of the newly arrested suspects will unfold over the next year, continuing to keep the Lufthansa topic in the news.
©2015 Daniel Simone (P)2015 Tantor
Engineer, sailor, and prolific reader of non-fiction
...then you might enjoy "The Lufthansa Heist."
This book, which appears to have been a collaboration between Henry Hill (deftly portrayed by actor Ray Liotta, in the film), and author Daniel Simone, purports to tell the real story behind the remarkable robbery of $6M in unmarked bills and jewelry from the Lufthansa Cargo terminal at NY's Kennedy Airport, in 1978.
Those familiar with the film, which was an admittedly fictionalized account told from Hill's persepective, will find the recounting to be reasonably close to the story told in the film. The book features long quoted passages from Hill himself (presumably, the product of extensive interviews with the man), interspersed with narrative to flesh out the story.
Narrator Joe Barrett, whose work I have greatly admired in other books, does the best he can, with a book which contains so many quotations and/or reconstructions of dialogue by a large number of characters. Sadly, he isn't fully successful, but I can't fault him; this is the sort of book which is certainly difficult to adapt to audible narrative form, and Barrett's attempt to provide distinctive voices to the characters possibly transcends his skill level. The book might have been better if it was narrated by an acting troupe, instead of depending on a single narrator to affect multiple voices and accents.
The real problem with the book (which I fully acknowledge, I enjoyed listening to), is that it is likely inaccurate. After reading the book, I consulted the Wikipedia articles on Hill, Jimmy Burke, the Lufthansa heist itself, and noted a number of striking contradictions to the facts, as noted in Wiki and other sources. The most egregious contradiction was Simone's portrayal of Hill, after becoming a federal witness. Simone fails to mention that Hill, instead of having reformed and walked a 'straight and narrow path' afterwards, did still continue his criminal enterprises. In fact, Simone finishes the book by leaving the impression that Hill had become some sort of motivational speaker for good citizenship, something we know not to be true.
Perhaps other books on the subject are more objective, and more accurate, but I haven't read them. This book is still a good 'listen', but I can only give it three stars, due to the flaws I've noted.
If you like the movie Goodfella's you should like this book. I wish all of the book would have been believable. I would say the book was about 1/3 factual, 1/3 speculation, and 1/3 fictional.
He did a good job, I liked ability to simulate different ethnic accents.
I think like a lot of people I bought this book because I was introduced to this story via Goodfellas and since Audible amazingly has yet to release Wiseguys (unabridged) I thought perhaps this would be the next best thing. Think again.
First and foremost, this is not non-fiction. It has non-fiction elements to it and you'll know the people involved, but for some reason the author decided to make up events, like US Marshals getting shot near the end of the book (didn't happen) and Henry Hill personally leading the charge to look for his family with the FBI (didn't happen), basically the end of the book is pure fiction. Why it's included I have no idea since it's easy to verify it's completely made up. While much of the book I was saying this is non-sense, this didn't happen - there was a twinge of doubt, but then you get to this ending part and it's 100% certain it didn't happen. Additionally the conversations in the book are all made-up, and made-up by someone who watched a lot of bad movies and read a lot of bad books, it's awful and embarrassing how bad the dialogue is at times (actual quote, "her bosoms were like 2 full shopping bags" - huh?). The author of this book is not a talented dialogue writer.
With that said I still gave it 3 stars. Amazingly enough I made it to the end of the book - when the book isn't making up cheesy dialogue and making up events that never happened it flows well enough. The real story of Lufthansa is an interesting one and if you scrape away all the idiocy that the author coats the story in, you can find a lot of new stuff you didn't know - well assuming any of it is true. I wasn't ever really bored listening to this, mainly because there was just enough truth to keep me going, and I wanted to see what these cheeseball author would make a character say next - and not in a good way, in a how douchey will this next line be way.
I'll give the book 2 stars - I made it to the end but I felt ripped off since the book is clearly not what it claimed to be. I bought this because it was supposed to be non-fiction - it's mostly not.
The reader did a good enough of a job. I'd give him 3.5 stars, but that's not an option so I'll round up.
Basically should you buy this?.... it's up to you. This isn't an awful book, it's just full of lies, events that didn't happen and dialogue written by a 6th grader. Still it is in theory mostly based on actual events, but it's so loosely based on actual events it should be called fiction.
Goodfellas, the addendum
The most compelling part of this narrative was exposing a bit more of the day to day grind and hassle that these guys lived through. Anyone seems cool with Scorcese's angles, old cars, and the Stones playing in the background, but these guys didn't really embody what the movie showed. Rather, they just were hustling to make ends met while not getting killed. What really impressed me is how dumb most of these guys and gals were....whenever an outsider speaks to a mafioso or their family, they will always ask the question "whats dat word mean?" highlighting their extremely small vocabularies. I didn't get a count, but I'm sure I heard this phrase about a half dozen times. But hey, this is a generation that called pasta sauce "gravy" and red wine, "red wop." No glamour here, despite how easy it is to imagine the leisure suits. Really fun book if you liked Goodfellas.
A great addition to the library if you want a fun, interesting book that goes into a bit more detail than Goodfellas could, but without the high gloss coating that a movie can make of real situations.
It would be so cool to hear Jimmy the Gent's life story by him. These guys are mostly all sociopaths makes for a great read though. They could barely read self admittedly but pulled off a 6 million dollar heist. Then the stupidity kicked in murdering everyone involved. If these bad guys could just keep their mouths shut they would have gotten away with all of this so sad to bad. I want to hear a story about a guy getting away with it. How about the new largest heist by that MMA fighter who ended up getting caught because of speeding in his ferrari. lol crooks get caught because they are stupid. That is what the police say huh.
Federal Marshalls shot protecting Hill? Never heard that. Probably a lie, so then, how many other lies in this book. Also, red wine referred to as " Red Wop". Why?.....never ever heard that term. Shoddy work overall. The author should be ashamed.
My preference for a good story is something totally unusual and not run of the mill stuff. Give me something I haven't heard before.
I LOVE heist stories. This one wasn't pulled off by clever thieves nor solved by very clever cops as some I've read. It does show how the basic thug mentality and the lower class of thieves work. Then there's the cops - 'this is my turf!' I'm amazed at the amount of egos involved on both sides of the crime.
Big HOWDY from TEXAS !!! I drive a truck and listen to books to pass the time I have a driving partner a Boston Terrier named 5Wheel
this is the only book I have listen too
character hard to remember
did an ok job
no had to rest and think about it
it was a good book
Good book good story but nothing new from wise guy or goodfellas. if you enjoyed that you'll like this but don't look for anything different.
Reading several true crime / Cosa Nostra books has brought one thing home to me: the cheapness, banality and low-rentness of its evils, its practitioners, and their puny reward systems in this life. The audio sample of this book shows it well: it is pretty much tacky and low-rent for most players most of the time, with a grinding set of fears. Perhaps these superficial upsides compensate those willing to damage the rights of others, and disregard the mundane duties of life, for these tacky rewards. I come from a background of Hollywood glorifications of which Scorsese was the main player. It has been a long road of detox to realize the Hollywood surface gloss was mostly just that. This is a lot of cigarettes and booze and betrayal, with a little dress-up, a few moments of superficial glitz. I have not the slightest sliver of envy for any of it. This is a reasonably well-told story, and the other reviewers have dealt with its dubious credibility. The idea of major law enforcement bosses throwing punches at each other is yet another example of stretching belief (and cliches) toward the limits. Am I shocked that a career criminal would distort the truth? But there is enough reasonably reliable content to take it with a grain of salt, and slake one's thirst for more Goodfellas trivia.
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