30 Illegal Years To The Strip, By Bill Friedman
This book suggests Costello, did more for gambling in the United States, then anyone. I highly recommend “30 Illegal Years To The Strip,” by Bill Friedman. A great read for beginners to the genre and old mob junkies alike.
For the beginner, 30 Years offers an overview of the early American mob up through the golden years of Las Vegas. This is a great primer for someone looking to investigate this unique history as it spotlights all of the leading players and milestone events.
For those who have already done some homework, there are plenty of new angles on old familiar subjects to keep you interested. Mr. Friedman covers some new and intriguing ground with his research on subjects such as, was Chicago kingpin, Johnny Torrio, really the great mentor to the “Young Turks,” that many books have made him out to be?
While there have been other authors who have attempted to tackle the scope of 30 Years, what sets Friedman apart from his peers is his singular background. The only man to ever serve as resident of two Las Vegas casinos simultaneously, he spent thirteen successful years running the Castaways Hotel and Casino, as well as the Silver Slipper Casino. He befriended many people of nterest along the way, among them, Vincent “Jimmy Blue Eyes” Alo, business partner, and longtime friend of gangland legend, Charlie Luciano. Friedman was privy to many stories about the underworld and its cast of characters, and these stories, as well as his years of extensive research (Friedman used to get paid by the government to study the Mafia), serve as the meat and potatoes of the book. The gravy stems from his love of the subject. Friedman is a mob geek of the highest order, and it is apparent that he relishes these stories as much as the rest of us mob junkies. For once the author treats the reader like an adult, allowing us to enjoy the stories minus the obligatory ethics lecture other books feel the the need to preach, as if we are all going to start a gang the moment we put it down. Perhaps this will be a criticism for some readers, but this one found it refreshing. No work is perfect however, and the book is not without its flaws, but the pros far out weigh the cons when it comes to “30 Illegal Years To The Strip.”
One final note: In these days of Kindles, and downloads, I urge readers to spring for the hard copy if possible. The book itself is huge (think of a soft cover coffee table book) and feels good to get your hands on. And though it lacks any photos, a fact I was initially disappointed in, I found more than enough to keep me interested within the pages of this excellent book.
Go to http://www.billfriedmanauthor.com/author-and-research/, to learn more about the author’s background or to purchase this and other works by Bill Friedman.
Uncle Frank, by Leonard Katz
“If you only buy one book about Costello, this is the one. Over all, the most inclusive and accurate document of his life. The foreword by Costello’s friend, actor Anthony Quinn, is worth the price alone. Written by Washington Post reporter, Leonard Katz, who can be seen in the Mobsters documentary on Uncle Frank.”
The Prime Minister of the Underworld, by George Wolf
“Written by Frank’s longtime lawyer and friend, George Wolf, this book includes many first hand accounts and insights into Costello’s personality. Not as complete as Katz’s book Uncle Frank, but Wolfe was with Costello during many of his trials and tribulations, and he paints a fascinating portrait of a very complex personality.”
The Gangster with a Thousand Faces, by David Hanna
“A good bio, but author David Hanna can’t seem to make up his mind if he loves or hates Costello. Not as good as Uncle Frank, or The Prime Minister of the Underworld, but over all this is a solid resource.”
Frank Costello, by Henry Zeiger
“Not my favorite book on Costello. It is very good for court transcriptions, but lacks any insight to Frank’s character.”
Hot Springs, From Capone To Costello, by Robert K. Raines
“Great book, by the man behind Hot Springs, Arkansas’s, Gangster Museum, Robert K. Raines. I hoped for some uncirculated Costello photographs, of which there where none, but a recommended book nonetheless. There are Costello gems I have not seen anywhere else, and Raines’s closing statements on Frank are very appropriate.”
Public Enemies, The Mayor, The Mob, And The Crime That Was by George Walsh
“Public Enemies, more than possibly any other source, this book paints the picture of Costello’s political power in New York City.” Casey McBride
Money, Power And Violence, The Story Of Frank Costello by Andrew Williams
“Available in Kindle, not a particularly well written or insightful read. Though it hits the major points, it is very short, more along the lines of a magazine article than a book.” Casey McBride
Daughter of the King, Growing Up In Gangland, by Sandra Lansky
“Sandra Lansky’s uncle Frank, was Uncle Frank! There are some great insights into Costello’s character here.” Casey McBride
Lucky Luciano: Mysterious Tales Of A Gangland Legend, by Christian Cipollini
“If you really want to get new angles on Costello’s story, one of the best ways is through books on his life long friend, Lucky Luciano. Mr. Cipollini is not the first to write about Luciano, but he is one of the best.” Casey McBride
Read the NCS interview with Christian Cipollini: http://thencs.org/christiancipollini
The Man To See, by Evan Thomas
“Costello had many lawyers in his day, but he claimed Edward Bennett Williams to be ‘the champ’. Williams thought Costello was ‘an honorable man,’ and he became Frank’s friend as well as his lawyer. There are some humorous stories here.” Casey McBride
Murder, INC. The Story Of The Syndicate, by Burton Turkus and Sid Feder
“History has been kind to Frank. Books written about Costello while he was boss are considerably darker than those written in later years. This book is a must read for anyone interested in the underworld which Frank ruled.” Casey McBride
Gangland New York, The Places And Faces Of Mob History, by Anthony M. DeStefano
Read the NCS interview with Anthony M. DeStefano: http://thencs.org/anthonydestefano
The Rise Of The Mafia, New York: From 1896 Through World War II, by Giuseppe Selvaggi
“Best book on the times in NYC when gangs ran the Italian neighborhoods…good inside stuff.” Noel Castiglia
Lauropoli And Other Thoughts About The Italians, by Robert Golden
If you really want to understand a man, you’ve got to know where he came from. Though I consider Costello to be a unique, American entity, his roots were in Italy, and that surely must have influenced his adult life in the United States. Our good friend Noel Castiglia, recommended this book, Laurapoli And Other Thoughts About The Italians, by Robert Golden. Mr. Golden not only has a vast knowledge of the village where Frank was born, he also harbors a great love of the subject, which is apparent in his writings. Though this book is not about Costello directly, it has helped my understanding of his background tremendously.
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