The First Family

Terror, Extortion, Revenge, Murder, and the Birth of the American Mafia

Publisher: Seal Books
Hundreds of books have been written about the American Mafia, but none has told how it came into existence. This one does. Mafia books are notoriously unreliable, too often filled with the recycled errors of earlier authors. This one has been painstakingly researched from primary sources, including interviews with surviving family members and a vast, previously unexamined Secret Service archive. The result is an extraordinary work of history that grips, astonishes and chills the blood like a thriller.

It tells the little-known story of the Morello family, pioneers of protection rackets, bizarre rituals and Mafia wars. Before the Five Families who dominated US organized crime for a bloody half-century, there was the surpassingly cunning Giuseppe Morello and his murderous coterie of brothers. Born into a life of poverty in rural Sicily, Morello became an American nightmare.

Mike Dash follows the birth of the Mafia in America from the 1890s to the 1920s, from the wharves of New Orleans to the streets of Little Italy. He brings to life the remarkable villains and unusual heroes of the Mafia’s early years, and does so without ever resorting to fiction or “imagined” history.

The First Family is more than just a pulse-quickening Mafia narrative. This is how it really happened.


From the Hardcover edition.

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The Barrel Mystery

The room felt like the bottom of a grave. It was damp, low ceilinged, windowless and — on this raw-boned New York night — as chilly and unwelcoming as a policeman’s stare.

Outside, on Prince Street in the heart of Little Italy, a fine drizzle slanted down to puddle...
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