Roots. Mike Dash’s history of the origins of the American Mafia is titled, The First Family: Terror, Extortion, Revenge, Murder, and the Birth of the American Mafia. While the narrative reads like a lively thriller, the almost forty pages of notes disclose the sources of Dash’s tales, and led me to the conclusion that this book has been researched thoroughly and presents a reliable record of actual events. Set at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, The First Family describes the lives and criminal activity of a large cast of characters, led by the colorful Giuseppe Morello, whom Dash presents as the first boss of the New York mafia. Morello was known as “the clutch hand,” because of a deformed arm. His hand reached into the pockets of many, and killed with abandon. Dash offers the best of good history: a compelling story, backed by facts, and presented in ways that bring the dimensions of characters to life. For any reader interested in this time period, or in crime and the mafia, The First Family provides hours of reading pleasure.
Rating: Three-star (Recommended)