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Tony Soprano's America: The Criminal Side of the American Dream [Hardcover]

David Simon

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Book Description

11 Nov 2002
With his life of crime and heart of gold, Tony Soprano compels us to examine our moral code - and to ponder the contradictions of the American Dream. }Hit Man. Family Man. Drug Dealer. Devoted Dad. Meet Tony Soprano - the chilling mob boss and central character of the popular HBO series The Sopranos . To millions of viewers, Tony is the good guy, the solid provider who nevertheless commits nearly every crime conceivable - all the while maintaining a loyal fan following. Tony has defined for us an entirely new, if skewed moral code. Tony Sopranos America looks at the relationship between the American Dream and the manner in which we pursue it. Like Tony, can we do the effectively expedient thing without sacrificing honor? Must we be held accountable for our behavior? In this fascinating look at the social and family dynamics of Tonys life and at the societal problems that surround it - crime, drugs, infidelity, gambling, corruption, and their wide-reaching effects - writer and criminologist David Simon takes the reader through all aspects of crime in America: from the streets to the boardroom, and from the local hood to far-reaching international syndicates. With penetrating insight, Simon challenges us to hold up a mirror to ourselves, to make better sense of our fascination and worship of those like Tony who not only use criminal acts to take shortcuts to the American Dream, but who also get away with it.THIS BOOK WAS NOT PREPARED, LICENSED, APPROVED, OR ENDORSED BY ANY ENTITY INVOLVED IN CREATING OR PRODUCING The Sopranos TELEVISION SERIES }

Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Westview Press Inc; 1st ed. edition (11 Nov 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813340365
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813340364
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.6 x 2.5 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,549,998 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


"This book should serve as a red flag to a prosperous country teetering on the edge of complete moral breakdown." --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

David Simon is a Professor of Administration of Justice at San Jose State University and a research associate at the University of California, Berkeley. He has written op-eds on crime for the Los Angles Times and San Jose Mercury News in addition to contributing to The Progressive. He lives in Albany, California.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
TONY SOPRANO AND HIS WIFE Carmela live next door to Bruce and Jean Cusemano, a well-to-do Italian-American couple who earned their way into their rich, suburban New Jersey neighborhood through Bruce's lucrative medical practice. Read the first page
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Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 1.5 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Where's Tony? 7 Jan 2003
By Gary M. Greenbaum - Published on
While this book is heavily promoted as an analyis of contemporary America in light of the Sopranos, it is awfully light on the Sopranos side. Basically, a snippet of plot description from "The Sopranos" is used as a lead-in to each chapter, which then heads into dry sociological analysis.
Why is it I have the suspicion that this book originally lacked any mention of the Sopranos, but then received the snippets, the title, and the heavy promotion to get some portion of the Soprano fan market? I guess it worked, I bought it without taking too much of a look at it.
It isn't even very good sociology. It makes all sorts of claims and statements without citing statistics or having footnotes.
Not really worth it. Browse it in the bookstore and decide for yourself, but there really isn't much here.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Tony Soprano Would Take Action 23 April 2005
By John P Bernat - Published on
This is an awful book. It purports to be some kind of sociological analysis of the cultural forces shaping the Sopranos.

It is, instead, a slanted political diatribe, essentially blaming all our ills on a loss of collective social sensibility and retreat from political liberalism.

That's rank B.S. I consider myself a liberal (believe it or not) but do not blame the forces of social disintegration solely on a recent shift in our political winds.

I don't know that I even agree with one of the author's key assumptions: that we care less about one another now. Some communities and neighborhoods are more tightly knit together than ever before. We move steadily toward a more orderly, efficient and respectful society, despite our mistaken retreat from social liberalism.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Are David Simon's Personal Politics and Values Important to You? 21 Mar 2006
By Stephen M. Kerwick - Published on
If David Simon's personal values and political orientation are crucial to your life, don't miss this book by any means. If you aren't aware of what his personal values and politics are, just watch the editorial columns of your local newspaper for 3 or 4 days, focusing on the writers of whom you've never heard or cared. If you don't want to spend even that much time, I'll mention that Simon appears fascinated by redistributionist cant and utopian (read as impractical and impossible) social democracy. He doesn't care much for any of the national administrations in recent years, including that of the Clintons and seems to wish we'd have something along the lines of a French or German polity of the last half dozen years. None of that is illegal, although I tend to think that the concepts are foolish and impractical. What did offend me (more than my lost $15 or 20 purchase price) was the shameless appropriation of David Chase's and James Gandolfini's work to sell social and political ideas that are barely relevant to it, if at all. If you don't know or care who David Simon is or what his personal critiques of America are (and he ain't Tocqueville by a long shot) save your money and effort and avoid this dime a dozen rant.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Worst book I have ever read 2 Dec 2008
By Charlie Heston - Published on
This book represents a new low in social and political commentary.
Disguised as an analysis of the Soprano's success and how that reflects on American Society is a complete farce. The irony is that the author is pushing his Western European Socialist agenda using the guise of one of the more sucessful and profitable American TV shows of the past decade.
Would anyone buy this book without the Soprano's hook?
It's not even well written. The Soprano's themes don't even fit into the commentary that follows in each chapter. It's amatuerish at best and I've seen better writing in high school news papers.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An Argument from Fantasy 31 Dec 2002
By Acute Observer - Published on
The author claims this TV drama portrays contemporary culture. What about 'Father Knows Best', or 'Mayberry RFD', or 'All in the Family'? Weren't they all hit shows in their day? Is 'The Sopranos' a modern dress version of 'I, Claudius'? Would the plots be usable for 'At Home with Cesare Borgia'? Can a work of fiction ever be a measure of society? Perhaps its popularity is due to its dealing with usually unreported facts (like 'The Untouchables'). Or the fantasy of a strong and powerful man who can do as he pleases (think of James Bond or a John Wayne film).
I wonder how reliable are its statements? Page 9 claims the murder rate of America is "ten times higher than Europe, Canada, and Japan combined". But the rate of violent deaths in America is less than in many European countries or Japan, and just above Canada's! Page 11 claims poverty was not a social problem before JFK! That would be news to FDR or Truman. Simon uses his sociological imagination to analyze this show as a case study. This would be a better book if it was based on a real "Middletown" rather than a fantasy TV drama.
Page 14 talks about the pursuit of financial success as if this was strange, but De Tocqueville said the same thing around 1835. Did they have today's problems then? Simon then says America is "anti-intellectual" because success involves making money, not education! But what about Europe and its history? Is there much difference? Page 16 talks about putting businessmen into government. Was it different under King James II, Louis XIV, or the Caesars? Page 157 says people can "keep only $1 in every $2 they earn over $5000"; he needs to do better research.
Chapter 6 compares crime in America to a department store of many levels, from the bottom to the top. Street gangs, organized crime, white-collar crime, banks and major corporations, the criminal justice system, and, crime in Government Intelligence Agencies. I found this the most interesting section of the book. Are we doomed? Chapter 8 contrasts the realities of everyday life to what we learned in Civics Class. Simon claims a bewildered and disillusioned public react with skepticism and cynicism. And this keeps people from acting to correct their problems.
Chapter 9 proposes solutions to the many problems of today's America. Simon correctly states that nothing worthwhile can be achieved without collective action. I think the same history tells us that his solution is worthless ("join a local church ... oppose environmental destruction ..."). If the problems are caused by the corporate control of politicians since the 1860s, then the solution is to rebuild democracy by eliminating corporate power on the state and national level. Other books have made this point ("Wealth and Democracy" by Kevin Phillips). You must start with a new political party that is NOT controlled by the "two party system". It won't be easy. Corporate power, like hell, is not easily conquered.
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