Five Families

  • by Selwyn Raab
  • Narrated by Paul Costanzo
  • 33 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

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.


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)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful


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.
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- Rik B


Would you consider the audio edition of Five Families to be better than the print version?

This is a pointless question. Unless most people are in the habit of re-reading books they have already read, which I do not believe they are, this question ought to be deleted. It is not helpful.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Five Families?

I cannot give an answer to this question because of the nature of the book. It is basically a history textbook, and reads like one. Pretty interesting in parts, but very dry overall. No suspense, no high drama. The most interesting facet of the book for me was the tying together the Mafia organization from its various sites and gangs ("families"). The overall view, which one does not normally get the benefit of, while getting news stories and etc., adds interest and enlightenment, to a point.But memorable moments? Nah.... weren't any, for me.

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

The narration is suitably even, flat and dry. I do not mean that as a criticism. There was no call by the text for high drama in the reading, and so there was none.However, the reason for the slightly lower rating of the narration is to register a complaint regarding the increasing sloppiness displayed in these audiobooks. I am re-thinking my membership because I am getting more and more disgusted by this lack of ordinary quality and care in the preparation of these audiobooks. I am a big enough user that I am able to really see the trend at work here, and it is not good. The faults include long pauses in the middle of sentences, repeating with no seeming reason of sentences or parts thereof, and these type things are not the fault of the narrator but reflect lack of care on one part of the audiobook prep.However, following through on the low-quality prep theme, I get tired of mispronunciations of ordinary words and relatively common names. In other words, items that a person would have read through prior to recording, and done minimal Google research to check on the proper usage - but this was not done. Sloppiness. Just plow through it with the error included, it's no biggie.It isn't a biggie, one by one. But they sure do add up and irritate, especially when taken together with the messy prep of the recording itself. Is there no "proofing"? Obviously, there isn't. I realize the prices of these audiobooks do not allow the same profits as hardcover books, but there is still such a thing as basic product quality. And Audible is deteriorating in this regard. It may be able to afford this while it has the monopoly, but this situation is crying out for others to step in and produce a better product. I am looking for this and I cannot be the only one.Meanwhile, Audible, how about a bit of oversight and enforcement - in other words - proper, ordinary management - being applied to the production process of these products? With so much hard squeezing out of profits, there does come a point of no return. And this product is pretty rapidly getting to that point.

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- farmhouselady

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-06-2015
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio