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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

4.5 (194 )
5 star
 (123)
4 star
 (52)
3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Overall
4.5 (176 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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1 star
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Story
4.5 (178 )
5 star
 (118)
4 star
 (44)
3 star
 (9)
2 star
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1 star
 (4)
Performance
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  •  
    Andrew 14/04/2016
    Andrew 14/04/2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
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    4
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    "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.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William 18/03/2016
    William 18/03/2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    ""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.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ryan cusdin 04/12/2016
    ryan cusdin 04/12/2016 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "Exceptional"

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

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J W. 03/12/2015
    J W. 03/12/2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    14
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    2
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    "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.

    14 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    RGWright 12/05/2017
    RGWright 12/05/2017 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "excellent"

    Massively detailed breakdown of the mafia. interesting and full of fact. learnt loads from this but I can't talk about it.😉

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steve England 16/04/2016
    Steve England 16/04/2016 Member Since 2012

    Steve

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "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.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steve Aitken Belfast UK 09/02/2017
    Steve Aitken Belfast UK 09/02/2017 Member Since 2015
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    "In-depth analysis on the Mob"

    Excellent analysis and complete history of the Mafia, from Sicily to America. Excellently narrated also.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michal 30/09/2016
    Michal 30/09/2016 Member Since 2017
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    "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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 21/06/2016 Member Since 2017
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
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    "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

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. Goldsmith uk 15/08/2017
    S. Goldsmith uk 15/08/2017
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
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    "Superb, informative and captivating"

    This is a 'must-read' for any body who is interested in this particular piece of American history.

    The level of detail is staggering and it offers a real insight in to the everyday goings-on of Mafia life.

    Great narration; this adds to the overall "feel" of the book.

    I highly recommend this audiobook.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • Rik B
    Hamilton Ohio
    30/12/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  • Mark
    Raglan, New Zealand
    13/10/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    8 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Ruth
    Columbus, OH, United States
    01/10/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Jimmy Shelton
    29/04/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Sam Fredericks
    09/02/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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
    26/01/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Fan
    Carbondale, IL
    29/10/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    9 of 13 people found this review helpful
  • J. Niskanen
    Finland
    24/04/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    6 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • R. Mikesell
    Keene, TX, US
    18/08/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Very detailed and interesting"

    Excellent, extremely well researched history of the mafia in the United States. It seems to tell all you could want to know anout the subject and the narration is well matched to the material.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    12/08/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "5 Families"

    Really in depth review, endless information. Non Stop+ Highly detailed. Recommend to any Mafia historian

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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