Reading Recommendations: Confessions of a Mafia Boss, Gaspipe, Phillip Carlo.
From birth, Anthony Casso's mob life was preordained. Michael Casso introduced his young son around South Brooklyn's social clubs, where "men of honor" did business by shaking pinkie-ringed hands, hands equally at home pilfering stolen goods from the Brooklyn docks or gripping the cold steel of a silenced pistol. Young Anthony watched and listened and decided that he would devote his life to crime.
Casso would prove his talent "by earning", concocting ingenious schemes to hijack trucks, rob banks, and bring into New York vast quantities of cocaine, marijuana, and heroin. Casso also had an uncanny ability to work with the other Mafia families, and he forged unusually strong ties with the Russian mob. By the time Casso took the reins of the Lucchese family, he was a seasoned boss, a dangerous man.
It was a great life, Casso and his beautiful wife, Lillian, had money to burn. Casso and his crew brought in so much cash that he had dozens of large safety deposit boxes filled with bricks of hundred dollar bills. But the law caught up with him in his New Jersey safe house in 1994. Rather than stoically face the music like the old time mafiosi he revered, Casso became the thing he most hated, a rat. It broke his family's heart and made the once feared and revered mobster an object of scorn and disgust among his former friends. For it turned out that a lifetime of street smarts completely failed him in dealing with a group even more cunning and ruthless than the Mafia, the U.S. Government.
Detailing Casso's feud with John Gotti and their attempts to kill each other, the "Windows Case" that led to the beginning of the end for the mob in New York, and Casso's dealings with decorated NYPD officers Lon Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa, the "Mafia cops," Gaspipe is the inside story of one mans rise and fall, mirroring the rise and fall of a way of life, a roller-coaster ride into a netherworld few outsiders have ever dared to enter.
And, China's First Emperor and His Terracotta Warriors, Frances Wood.
Unifier or tyrant? China's First Emperor, Qin Shi Huangdi (258-210 B.C.) has been the subject of debate for over two thousand years. He gave us the name by which China is known in the west and by his unification or elimination of six states, he created imperial China. He stressed the rule of law, but suppressed all opposition, burning books and burying scholars alive. His military achievements are reflected in the astonishing terracotta soldiers, a veritable buried army, that surround his tomb, and his Great Wall still fascinates the world.
Despite his achievements, however, the First Emperor has been vilified since his death. This book describes his life and times and reflects the historical arguments over the real founder of China and one of the most important men in Chinese history.
And, another book along the same topic, The Terra Cotta Army, China's First Emperor and the Birth of a Nation, John Man.
I've been reading these two books side by side. Each has its own interpretation of the First Emperor that I've enjoyed. John Man is a historian and travel writer with a special interest in China and Mongolia. He lives in the United Kingdom.
And, Trail of Crumbs, a Memoir - Hunger, Love, and the Search for Home, Kim Sunee`.
Kim Sunee` was three years old when her mother took her to a crowded marketplace and left her on a bench with only a fistful of food. Three terrifying days and nights later a policeman discovered Kim, who was clutching what was now only a handful of crumbs.
Nearly twenty years later, Kim's life is unrecognizable. Adopted by a family in New Orleans, she grows up as one of only two Asian children in her community. At the age of twenty two, she became involved with a famous French Businessman, and finds herself living in France, mistress over his houses in Province and Paris, and stepmother to his eight year old daughter.
But despite this glamourous lifestyle, Kim never really feels at home. Trail of Crumbs follows Kim as she cooks her way into many makeshift homes and discovers that familiar flavors are the antidote to a lifetime of wandering. Ultimately, it is in food and cooking that Kim finds solace and a sense of place.
Sensuous, intense, and intimate, this powerful memoir will appeal to anyone who is passionate about love, food, travel, and the ultimate search for self.
See you at Rylander!