Honor Thy Father
Harper, Apr 2009, $14.99
Released in 1971, this is a reprint of the classic Bonanno New York Mafia family biography with a new Afterward updating what happened to the prime extended family members. Still insightful as it was back in the 1970s, readers get an insider look at the rise and fall of the Bonannos via the interviews by NY Times reporter lease and Bill Bonanno after they met in 1965 in a courtroom. The book is broken into four overarching periods starting with the infamous disappearance of the boss Joseph Bonanno in 1964 just after dining with his lawyer and while carrying no weapons and with no bodyguards; this snatch led to the “Banana War” between his mob and three other New York area gangs.
Insightful even with the account being more a historical, the audience will enjoy the side tidbits like the gangsters hiding in the boroughs (with dogs) or New Hampshire while laughing at the Untouchables. Though at times the action wanes leading to boring sections; readers should remember the goal was an honest account of Mafia life in the 1960s and 1970s. For the most part this is achieved, but the tone also feels as if Mr. Talese somewhat crosses the thin line with his subject as he appears to like Bill as a person. This remains a fascinating look at the Mafia from the inside in which silent loyalty is everything so why did Bill agree to five years of interviews and how did that impact his relationship with his dad; the son understood the Mafia mantra of HONOR THY FATHER, but how can revealing insider information live up to that tenet?