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on 23 January 2005
On it's own it's just non fictional account of the New Jersey Mafia and most of it is based around one of the latest mob informers of that region, associate Ralphie Gaurino. This alone makes it a decent read for the avid Mafia enthusiast. Though it is not too exciting. What did higher my rating of the book were the relevant Sopranos name-dropping and similarities to the real New Jersey wiseguys. It's quite interesting realising that actual plot lines and characters from the Sopranos were stolen from current Mafia members from NJ. Not many shows would be audacious enough to that.
Overall, it's a good book worth reading, like I said, for the avid Mafia fan and made better if you're a fan of the Sopranos. Don't expect anything too exciting or a 'can't put down book'.
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on 4 August 2011
This is the utterly compelling real-life story of how the FBI managed to destroy the New Jersey Mafia in 1998-2001. Apparently when it was all over, you could fill a large school bus with all the mobsters in the DeCavalcantes Mafia family who had 'turned state's evidence' and 'ratted' on their fellow felons. This was the first time that the head of a Mafia family had 'cracked': accepting the Justice Department's prosecution plea-bargain in exchange for a lighter sentence. It was a major blow against organised crime in America.

By coincidence, all of this was happening just as the early seasons of 'The Sophranos' TV series were being produced. The TV company HBO began setting up street locations in New Jersey for 'The Sophranos' pilot on the very same day that the FBI managed to persuade an important high-ranking mafia hood inside the New Jersey Mob to turn informant and start wearing a wire for them. This swung the investigation in the FBI's favour. Over the next three years, this key witness amassed so much taped evidence that it rendered futile absolutely any defence that his former Mafia hoodlums might try to concoct. Most of the accused simply crumbled just as soon as they heard the damning litany of 'probably cause' evidence springing from their own tape-recorded lips. Seventy people were eventually convicted.

Now that I have read this book, I dearly wish that the producer of 'The Sophranos', David Chase, had perhaps done more to follow real-life events unfolding in New Jersey. To my mind, 'Made Men' highlights a serious flaw with 'The Sophranos': I now feel that 'The Sophranos' glamorised the Mafia, when 'Made Men' actually reveals it to be an extremely nasty, parasitic and pernicious blight upon US society. Furthermore, I feel that the real-life events were much more engrossing than the sanitised fictionalised Hollywood account. I would love to have seen Tony Sophrano crumble, before turning states evidence and then finally entering witness protection.

I can understand how other reviewers have found 'Made Men' to be 'tedious' and 'poorly written'. I tend to agree that there is a fair bit of repetition (sometimes the writer repeats the same fact twice on the same page). I also think that it is written in a form of American-English that I sometimes find hard to follow in places. The book, in my opinion, really needed a stronger editor to tidy it up a bit in places. However, I personally found it to be a compulsive page-turner of a book. Some other reviewers are unhappy with the large amounts of FBI taped transcript evidence in 'Made Men' , but this is precisely what I loved best about it. The taped transcripts really helped me to delve deep into the minds of the crooks (and the 'stool-pigeon') as the case is slowly assembled over three years by the feds.

Top notch.
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on 5 September 2013
I agree with the rest of the reviews that say its even better if youre a soprano fan, Thats the first reason I bought it in the first place, I am a mafia fan on and off screen, I have to say I loved reading this book..it really gives you a clear idea on the reality of the modern day mafia which is not glamorized like in the movies, id recommend it to anyone..and it includes photos of the real people mentioned in the book.
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on 7 January 2008
Firstly let me apologise if my review sounds like the above reviewer, but he did hit the nail on the head. The book is interesting in that whilst reading you reconise certain scams and characters from The Sopranos. The contrast to real life is audacious. Other than that, the book is your average mafia story about The New Jersey Mafia. Its excellent in that untill book, i didnt now anything about this Familly but unfortunatly It doesnt go into enough detail to make it an excellent read.
To conclude a good book, interesting if your a Sopranos Fan.

It may also be worth noting that a good knowledge of LCN is needed to understand this book, and not just a liking of The Sopranos. Id recomend an easier Introduction to the Mafia, before diving in to this book.
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on 26 April 2008
David Chase, the creator of The Sopranos, has said over and over again that there was no inspiration taken from any true cosa nostra family. This book, which is about the Decavalcante family, details the story of the fall of Vincent Palermo, and many other Made Men and asscoiates through Government Informant Ralphie Guarino. Also throughout the book though Smith provides us with the similarities with the TV show The Sopranos and The real made men of New Jersey and the mob hangouts such as Wiggles (Bada Bing) and Saccos (Satriales). Overall a good read especially as there is not a great deal of literature on the New Jersey branch of cosa nostra. Would have got 5* if there was more detail on Vincent Palermo, who Anthony Soprano is supposedly based on.
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on 22 November 2012
This is a great book about a crime family that was used as a template for the Sopranos TV show but this is real not fiction there's lots of real time transcriptions from FBI recordings of criminals discussing their planning of crimes obtained by hidden microphones placed on members of the gang who had turned grass to save their own backsides. If your interested in crime writing this is a must read.
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on 22 November 2012
the newer stuff with Jeff Lynn and Tom Petty are beautiful-the vocal equivalent of a Baileys Irish and the 60's stuff stands the test of time.Roy's voice is divine.
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