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By Norman B. Bernstein on 08-13-15
If you enjoyed the film "Goodfellas".....
...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.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
By Rodney on 08-22-15
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.
9 of 10 people found this review helpful