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Jim

Holland, TX, United States
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  • A Hobbit, A Wardrobe and a Great War

  • How J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship, and Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-1918
  • By: Joseph Loconte
  • Narrated by: Dave Hoffman
  • Length: 6 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 274
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 243
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 247

The First World War laid waste to a continent and altered the political and religious landscape of the West. For a generation of men and women, it brought the end of innocence - and the end of faith. Yet for J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, the Great War deepened their spiritual quest. Both men served as soldiers, survived the trenches, and used the experience of that conflict to ignite their Christian imagination. Had there been no Great War, there would have been no Hobbits, no Lord of the Rings, no Narnia, and perhaps no conversion to Christianity by C. S. Lewis.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Delivers what the title says.

  • By Zebedee on 03-10-17

Pack Up Your Troubles and Inject Them Into a Book

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-14-18

For those who don’t know it, authors of The Ring and Chronicles of Narnia were both British soldiers in World War 1, and later college dons with penchants for ancient myth. Furthermore, they were friends who critiqued each other’s writing. Aficionados of the two call them The Inklings. Locante’s book argues that both imbued their most famous myth-based works with the horrors and dynamics of their war experiences. It’s easier to point this out in Tolken, who readily admitted this was so, than in Lewis, who buried his combat memories and seldom spoke of them. They gave him nightmares. Infantry lieutenant C.S. Lewis had perhaps a grislier time at the front than observation officer Tolken. Locante asserts that nevertheless the fabric of Lewis’ writing, like Tolken’s, is woven from threads of 1914-18. Tolken’s faces that look up from the dark water of the swamp are the slain of no man’s land, the author said later in life. Hobbits are Tommies: small figures who want to stay home, but with monumental courage that is summoned when needed. Elements shaped by the Great War are hidden deeper in Lewis’ Nardia, their presence more abstracted. Locante has a harder time pointing them out. Both writers used themes of ordinary persons dropped into violent circumstances caused by a dark presence bent on acquiring power. Both invent characters who must make personal choices about resisting evil, not joining it, even if it brings misery upon themselves, or obliteration. Both describe the clash of great armies with dead lying upon the battlefield. In any event, Locante is an excellent writer whose prose moves along briskly and is a pleasure to read. His points are germane, his observations interesting. He gives extra insight into both men and their works. I’d consider buying another book by him if the subject was right. Readers/listeners of this book ought to be those who appreciate Tolken and Lewis, or at the very least have watched the movies made from their work. My only objection is the narrator pronouncing the Battle of the Somme as the So-ma. I did some research and don’t believe this is correct even in French. Otherwise, Mr. Hoffman does a fine job. It was the director’s responsibility to make certain about pronunciations by his “actor.” Someone was asleep at the switch.

  • Gunfighter in Gotham

  • Bat Masterson's New York City Years
  • By: Robert K. DeArment
  • Narrated by: Fred Filbrich
  • Length: 8 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 3

William Barclay "Bat" Masterson spent the first half of his adult life in the West, planting the seeds for his later legend as he moved from Texas to Kansas and then Colorado. In Denver, his gambling habit and combative nature drew him to the still-developing sport of prizefighting. Masterson attended almost every important match in the United States from the 1880s to 1921, first as a professional gambler betting on the bouts, and later as a promoter and referee. Ultimately, Bat stumbled into writing about the sport.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Tell Them I'm a Broadway Guy Now

  • By Jim on 07-13-18

Tell Them I'm a Broadway Guy Now

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-13-18

DeArment wrote one of the best biographies of Bat Masterson in the 1970s and it's still in print. With this book the author closes the arc on his subject's life. DeArment isn't sentimental about Bat Masterson--a positive attribute for a biographer. The picture painted is of a genuinely tough, highly social self-promoter who, in the words of Jack Dempsey, "Didn't know shit about boxing;" amend that to he didn't know as much as he thought he knew, nor as much as others gave him credit for knowing. His fight predictions were wrong more than they were right. Too often emotion clouded his judgment. He was sustained, however, by his reputation as an Old West Sherriff, his circle of friends, and his years of experience hanging around boxing rings. He knew practically everyone in the fight game. He was rigidly honest. He was financially well-off. He was quick to trade punches if he felt put upon. When he moved to New York City from Denver he embraced the Big Apple totally and called himself a "Broadway Guy." And that's who this biography is about: "Broadway Bat" until the time of his death at a reporter's desk.

  • At Gettysburg

  • Or, What a Girl Saw and Heard of the Battle
  • By: Matilda "Tillie" Pierce Alleman
  • Narrated by: Brian V. Hunt, Claire Dayton
  • Length: 1 hr and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 4
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 3

Long considered one of the most vibrant and compelling accounts of the battle of Gettysburg by a young resident of the town. Fifteen-year-old Matilda "Tillie" Pierce saw Union general Buford enter town with his cavalry, saw the rout of the first day of fighting, and the Confederates streaming through the town. She gave water to many Union soldiers, including General George Gordon Meade, the new commander of the Army of the Potomac.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Recollections of a Muddy Little Girl

  • By Jim on 07-13-18

Recollections of a Muddy Little Girl

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-13-18

This is a charming book worth the price. It was written by Alleman after she was grown and had children. The reader/listener still hears the little girl's "voice" in the re-telling. It is full of Victorian sentiment but not enough to get in the way of the story. She was present when two great armies converged on her town from out of nowhere, and she was sent by her family to a neighbor's house to be out of harm's way. That placed her just behind the Union lines. There she interacted with various soldiers and civilians, including Generals Mead and Weed. Many of the combatants were very kind to her. Seeing wounded in a barn made her cry. Without a change of clothes, waiting four days for things to be over, sloshed with mud from the churned up terrain, she became filthy dirty--so much so her mother didn't at first recognize her when she returned home. Get the book.

  • Stalin, Volume I

  • Paradoxes of Power, 1878-1928
  • By: Stephen Kotkin
  • Narrated by: Paul Hecht
  • Length: 38 hrs and 47 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 313
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 275
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 275

Volume One of Stalin begins and ends in January 1928 as Stalin boards a train bound for Siberia, about to embark upon the greatest gamble of his political life. He is now the ruler of the largest country in the world, but a poor and backward one, far behind the great capitalist countries in industrial and military power, encircled on all sides. In Siberia, Stalin conceives of the largest program of social reengineering ever attempted.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent Book But First Time Listener Beware

  • By IRP on 03-23-15

The Prof Unburdens Himself of All He Knows

Overall
1 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-22-18

So there you are, sitting down to hear a biography of Stalin . . . for 39 hours. Listen to an hour every day and it will take you a month and a week to finish it. A half hour every day takes 2 ½ months. What is gained by this marathon? You learn short-term political ploys that didn’t work, month-by-month strategies of Bolsheviks working for influence, variations of communist philosophy among key figures, goings-on during committee meetings in Russia, goings-on in committee meetings in Central Asia, ups and downs of Soviet manufacturing, ups and downs of military strategies by Russia, Poland, Ukraine, Romania, and also by White Russian armies . . . an expanse of details that buries everything. There are long periods when Stalin drops out of the narrative completely. The word “abridgement” hovers over this book like an angel with a hatchet, as the poor misshapen thing cries, “Chop me! Chop me!” To be fair to the prof, the book isn’t pretentious—it’s overblown. Volume 1 only goes to the year 1928. Professor Kotkin of Princeton has already penned Volume 2 running another 50 hours. Oh boy, what fun that would be. Is this volume worth listening to? In my opinion, no. It isn’t that the prof hasn’t worthwhile things to say—they are buried in the clutter and when they appear the books gets back on track. There are too many good Stalin bios out there that take a couple weeks to get through. Not unless you are a genuine Russophile focusing on the Revolution, and by that I mean another professor like the author, would I go for this one. I’m an amateur reader of Soviet history and I thought the whole thing quite overdone, for what my opinion is worth. Large sections could have been synopsized with no harm. In fact they should have been. You’ve been warned. Buy the book and get ready to start skipping chapters.

  • Red Famine

  • Stalin's War on Ukraine
  • By: Anne Applebaum
  • Narrated by: Suzanne Toren
  • Length: 17 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 196
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 189
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 188

In 1929 Stalin launched his policy of agricultural collectivization - in effect a second Russian Revolution - which forced millions of peasants off their land and onto collective farms. The result was a catastrophic famine, the most lethal in European history. At least five million people died between 1931 and 1933 in the USSR. But instead of sending relief, the Soviet state made use of the catastrophe to rid itself of a political problem.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Still ever so relevant

  • By Mrs. on 12-14-17

Why Eastern Europeans Hate Russians

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-18-18

For those who don’t know, Stalin ordered all food taken away from Ukrainian peasant farmers who were not members of his new collective farms—every bit, including out of kitchen gardens, taken by his confiscation squads during 1932-3. He wanted all resistance to his five-year farming plan squashed. He starved four million land holders until they died, then sold what little they possessed to benefit the government. Those who survived his imposed famine joined collective farms the next year out of pure fear, “donating” their land to the state collective, keeping mute about what they’d seen. What lead up to this? The treaty of Brest-Litovsk and a peasant revolt gave Ukraine semi-independence from Czarist Russia during WW1; most Ukrainians didn’t wish to join the newly formed USSR; Lenin and Stalin nevertheless schemed to bring Ukraine within Russian dominance again through promises, economic pressure, and Machiavellian maneuvers; there was a famine in Ukraine from 1921-3 made worse by Soviets shipping excess grain away from it into Russia to feed Russians; Ukrainian intellectuals, politicians and artists championed Ukrainian language and culture over that of Russia urging resistance to a Soviet takeover; opposition of peasants to Soviet farm collectivization and a resurgence of Ukrainian nationalism made Stalin angry; Stalin decided to murder all Ukrainians who resisted him by the simple act of not feeding them and not letting them keep their own home-grown food. Beginning in 1932 entire families and villages wasted away and disappeared into mass graves. Stalin moved ethnic Russians into the population voids to further subjugate Ukraine. These ethnic Russians are still there today. It all worked for as long as Stalin lived and kept the pressure on. As he was supposed to have said: No people means no problem.

The account of the great famine of 1932 begins the second half of Chapter six, when farmers are forced to give their land to the state and join communist collectives or die. The reader/listener could almost begin at this point and skip the first five chapters of Applebaum’s book. Almost. They are full of bits and pieces and secondary narratives: historic Ukrainian heroes and politicians, accounts of in-fighting through the years, organizations founded to promote Ukrainian heritage and culture, famous Ukrainian playwrights and academics whose names are nearly unpronounceable in the West, and whose lives—frankly—are not terribly important, and who you’ll never hear about again. The first five chapters should have been two. You won’t miss much by speeding through with a fast forward button when you encounter boring passages. Chapter Six begins a parade of horrors of every description. It is no wonder Poles and Ukrainians—among others—still hate Russians. If there is such a thing as hell Joseph Stalin must be permanently squatting on the coals.

  • The Butchering Art

  • Joseph Lister's Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine
  • By: Lindsey Fitzharris
  • Narrated by: Ralph Lister
  • Length: 7 hrs and 54 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 877
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 803
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 802

In The Butchering Art, the historian Lindsey Fitzharris reveals the shocking world of 19th-century surgery on the eve of profound transformation. She conjures up early operating theaters - no place for the squeamish - and surgeons, working before anesthesia, who were lauded for their speed and brute strength. They were baffled by the persistent infections that kept mortality rates stubbornly high. A young, melancholy Quaker surgeon named Joseph Lister would solve the deadly riddle and change the course of history.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Not one boring moment!

  • By WRWF on 12-22-17

Mister Lister

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-14-18

The history of science is normally pretty dry. The Butchering Art does not sparkle with vigor and wit but it is an interesting story just the same, and the writing isn’t bad. The subject is acceptance of microbes as the cause of infection, and the invention of practical antiseptic procedures to kill them. The two responsible for this forward step were Pasteur and Lister, living at the same time in different countries, with Lister being the focus of the book. Their work complimented one another and they wrote letters back and forth. Pasteur was a French chemist turned microbiologist who designed experiments to prove the connection between germs and purification. Lister was an English surgeon working in Scotland who believed the germ theory, and so invented procedures to sterilize wounds to prevent gangrene and sepsis. Fitzharris describes British hospitals of Lister’s day as death traps in which half of surgical patients died of infection. Hospitals were where you went when there was no place else, for operations you could not avoid having . She notes that, statistically, it was less lethal to be operated on at home on the kitchen table. Hallways of city hospitals reeked of decay—the common doctors’ phrase of the era was good old hospital stink. Doctors’ cuffs were smeared daily with blood, puss, and even bits of human tissue as they made their rounds from patient to patient. After invention of chloroform allowed doctors to cut even deeper into human bodies infection was given new pathways inside human beings. There was a movement to tear down hospital buildings after they stood for so long to start over again with clean rooms and corridors. Medical dissection rooms were so infested with microbes that an accidental puncture of a student’s finger brought a good chance of dying or amputation. It’s interesting how long it took to overcome the belief that it was bad air that caused these things. Lister outlived Pasteur a good number of years—long enough to become a medical icon.

  • Fighting the Flying Circus

  • By: Eddie V. Rickenbacker
  • Narrated by: John Pruden
  • Length: 10 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 114
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 106
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 108

Captain Eddie V. Rickenbacker, originally from Ohio, was best known as one of the commanders of the 94th "Hat-in-the-Ring" Squadron, a crack unit of World War I pilots that included many former members of the famed Lafayette Escadrille. The 94th ended the war in France with the highest number of air victories of any American squadron.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • World War 1 ace

  • By Jean on 09-25-12

Calculating the Odds and Concocting a Plan

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-13-18

Following an introduction that gives context, the book moves rapidly to episodes of flying on the Western Front in 1918 as related by Eddie Rickenbacker. It’s clear that, like von Richthofen, Rickenbacker was a logical, analytical, calculating sort who reflected upon his mistakes and worked out how to correct them. He went into each combat with a plan in mind. He regrets killing enemy pilots--although it doesn’t seem to keep him awake nights. He’s always enthusiastic to bring one down. Unlike Richthofen, Rickenbacker has a sense of humor—at least in 1919 he does, the original date of the book’s publication. That changed over the years as Captain Eddie grew dour, seldom smiling. His squadron flew cast-off Nieuport 28s when it first went operational in the middle of April, 1918; it was given up-to-date Spad 13s the latter part of May. He writes that his 94th Aero Squadron first fought the famed Flying Circus during the battle for Chateau Thierry. Richthofen was in his grave by then but there were still legionary fighters among the Germans. The 94th Aero Squadron no doubt bumped into circus pilots as well as regular Deutsche Fliegers flying their Fokker D7s, Albatross D5s, and various two-seaters. It was dangerous work. Pilot grit was astonishing. Rickenbacker wisely kept a diary and so has the sequence of his days at the front in hand. The book more-or-less progresses from April, 1918, until the Armistice in November of that year by way of anecdotes. It’s a pleasant, interesting read and a must for war buffs and war gamers. It falls into the category of rip-roaring war stories with little dwelling on tragedy. Rickenbacker, America’s ace of aces, was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1930, twelve years after the war ended.

  • Bison and People on the North American Great Plains

  • A Deep Environmental History
  • By: Geoff Cunfer, Bill Waiser
  • Narrated by: Chuck Buell
  • Length: 11 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 4
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 4

This audiobook explores the deep past and examines the latest knowledge on bison anatomy and physiology, how bison responded to climate change (especially drought), and early bison hunters and pre-contact trade. It also focuses on the era of European contact, in particular the arrival of the horse, and some of the first known instances of over-hunting. By the 19th century, bison reached a "tipping point" as a result of new tanning practices, an early attempt at protective legislation, and ventures to introducing cattle as a replacement stock.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Buffalo Gone Baby Gone

  • By Jim on 03-24-18

Buffalo Gone Baby Gone

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-24-18

This book was sparked from an academic conference held on the American Buffalo. Conference members wrote the chapters. They point out that the history of North American bison was re-thought by scholars in the 1990s. The public, however, still believes the animal’s near extinction was government policy to subdue Indians, a 19th century fad for buffalo robes, and shooting parties from the East killing them from trains for fun. No so, write the professors. In the first place there were never more than 24-29 million animals on the plains—a great number, but not the 60 million or more that is often stated. Weather fluctuations meant some years there were less animals than others. The scholars’ number comes from computing how much graze bison need, the size of the great plains, and the time required to re-grow grass and sedges; 29 million is the maximum number possible. Contrary to popular myth, pre-Columbian Indians killed more bison than they needed each year by running them off cliffs or into corrals in canyons. Archeologists find butchered and un-butchered skeletons at these sites. The animals absorbed such wastage until Indians began hunting them from horseback, in full swing by 1700. Pregnant cows were the main target as they were fattest and sweetest, and this decreased herd numbers. Plains Indians wanted manufactured goods—steel knives, rifles, gunpowder, cloth, blankets, beads, etc. The extra slaughtered buffalo were converted into goods exchanged with merchant traders. Horse mobility coaxed more Indians onto the plains—it’s why Sioux and Cheyenne settled there from the East—all with families to feed and large horse herds that ate the buffalo’s grass. Inevitably, the enormous mass of animals shrank. Indians normally hunted them twice a year, in late fall and again in late Winter. Then in 1821 Canadian mixed-blood Metis moved onto the plains in high summer, with killing parties of several hundred coming every year for decades, manufacturing thousands of pounds of pemmican out of the buffalo for sale to the Hudson Bay Company in Canada, pulling heavy wagons to transport the pemmican back home. There was a terrible draught in the 1840s that reduced the herd still further. By the 1850s Indians noted the buffalo were less plentiful then before. By the 1860s herds had to be searched for. Complete collapse came in the 1870s with some 5,000 market hunters administering the coup de grace. There was never a government policy to wipe buffalo out that any historian has ever unearthed from records—it was buffalo hunters who stated there was to save face. Their market hunting was a business opportunity fueled by a large quantity of cheap raw material that lasted only a handful of years, until the raw material—the buffalo—disappeared. The truth is, according to the book, everybody exploited American bison by killing it. The intensity of harvesting just couldn’t be sustained. That, in the nutshell, is the book.

This is an interesting read/listen that takes into consideration climate, vegetation, bison habits, Great Plains topography, accounts from trustworthy eye-witnesses, and historical records of bison numbers and supplies kept meticulously by the Hudson Bay Company. It is narrated too fast. Slow it down to 75% on your playback device or you’ll miss a lot of information. For persons interested in this era it is well worth the listen.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Up from Slavery

  • By: Booker T. Washington
  • Narrated by: Noah Waterman
  • Length: 6 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,332
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,173
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,167

Booker T. Washington fought his way out of slavery to become an educator, statesman, political shaper, and proponent of the "do-it-yourself" idea. In his autobiography, he describes his early life as a slave on a Virginia plantation, his steady rise during the Civil War, his struggle for education, his schooling at the Hampton Institute, and his years as founder and president of the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, which was devoted to helping minorities learn useful, marketable skills.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Reality Check!

  • By Mickens on 06-08-16

Mr. Personality

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-04-18

Brooker T. Washington was a driven workaholic with a buoyant, nonjudgmental personality; what they teach salesmen to be like in Dale Carnegie classes. He comes over to the reader as admirable and effervescent. He tips his hat to the many, many whites who helped him build and grow Tuskegee by donating thousands of dollars, and this includes some ex-Confederates living in the Deep South. Local blacks donated what they could to keep the school running, sometimes food or livestock, sometimes pennies. A handful of well-off blacks also gave their time and money. The grunt work of brick-making and carpentry was done by Washington’s students. They literally dug basements and kilned bricks out of clay found on school property. In this way the school’s buildings were raised, more-or-less the subject of this book. Washington praises physical work and studying useable trade: e.g. brick-making, carpentry, farming, blacksmithing, etc. As Mr. Washington seems to have emanated waves of good will from himself there are no horrid tales of KKK marches or rampaging mobs. He knows how to schmooze and stroke human natures. What criticism he makes of race relations is guarded and forgiving. Washington’s father was an unknown white man towards whom, he says, he feels no ill will. He says he learned to pity those he met who were prejudiced against him. The reader comes away appreciating his herculean accomplishment that lasted over three decades, before he collapsed and died from overwork at age fifty-nine. This is a famous book penned by a non-white 19th century shaper and mover who started from nothing, and it should be read for increased awareness and appreciation of a great man.

  • A Man of Honor

  • The Autobiography of Joseph Bonanno
  • By: Joseph Bonanno
  • Narrated by: Tom Perkins
  • Length: 14 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 117
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 103
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 102

Born in Castellammare del Golfo, Sicily, Joseph Bonanno found his future amid the whiskey-running, riotous streets of Prohibition America in 1924, when he illegally entered the United States to pursue his dreams. By the age of only 26, Bonanno became a don. He eventually took over the New York underworld, igniting the "Castellammarese War", one of the bloodiest Family battles ever to hit New York City.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • great listen.

  • By Jim on 07-28-17

Your Lovable Sicilian Uncle

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-04-18

Giuseppe Bonanno’s autobiography omits repulsive details—shootings, beatings, stabbings, street muscle flexed at others’ expense—only bootlegging is admitted to. The statute of limitations never runs out on murder. Don Bananno is mum about that sort of thing. But the book contains details enough to make it interesting and worth buying. The reader comes to know the better parts of Signore Bonanno (whose name translates to Goodyear)—as much as he will reveal. Old Joe was an original New York City crime boss who helped found the underworld Commission, alongside Lucky Luciano, and the last one living from this group at the time he wrote his book. Having gone to college to be an officer in the Italian merchant marine he was certainly the best educated of them. By his lights he was the most humane, too. He didn’t have a gang, he writes, he had a family and he was its father. The family never extorted money, sold drugs, or ran prostitution—hence the title of his book. Hmmmm. Whatever the truth, only he alone published a narrative of a unique life Hollywood makes films about. (Luciano authorized a film about himself but dropped dead before it got underway.) Bonanno doesn’t say he was squeezed out of the Commission by the other bosses in the late 1960s, albeit so goes the standard narrative. Instead, he writes that he already had two heart attacks and announced he wanted to leave the life. When he retired to Tucson, Arizona, he was a wealthy man from legitimate investments, but hounded for decades by the FBI They sifted through his garbage each night, seeking incriminating evidence to finally nail him. They never found any. He says there was none to find. They sentenced the old man to five years in prison just the same along with his two sons. When the government decides to diddle a guy it does it. Agents figured the Don was overdue for a diddling so they gave him one in his old age. Giuseppe’s sardonic perspective on this harassment is in the later parts of his book. Chances are the reader will develop a liking for the old gangster with a straight-forward smile even if they don’t plan to. I wonder if Rudolph Giuliani felt any warmth towards old Joe after he read his book? In any event, it’s a must read for crime buffs.