Read advance reader review of Smalltime by Russell Shorto, page 4 of 4

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A Story of My Family and the Mob

by Russell Shorto

Smalltime by Russell Shorto X
Smalltime by Russell Shorto
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  • Published Feb 2021
    272 pages
    Genre: Biography/Memoir

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Page 4 of 4
There are currently 27 member reviews
for Smalltime
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  • Milda
    Seeking answers
    Small-time is a minutely researched biography of Russell Shortos grandfather's life and a history of Italian small town mobs. The author's grandfather was involved in a Johnstown, Pennsylvania's postwar mob which had evolved from Italy's Mafia.

    The book succeeds both as a biography and as a history of small town mobs.

    However, It is filled with too much detail and information making it difficult to read.
  • Helen P. (Lynn, MA)
    True Narrative History of a Mafia family
    This namesake author, with his father, searches for the truth of his Mafia grandfather. From the early 1900's, you will learn immigrant history and the connection to the expectation and search for a better life. This nostalgic, heart rendering truth of this Mafia family shows what most of us realize in our families. The universal traits we all can appreciate, minus the gritty Mafia life, demonstrates love, betrayal, loyalty, forgiveness, and diametrically opposing values. Well written, engaging, and thought provoking about grandparents and parents who impact us simply by learning our family history. SMALL TIME Will draw you in!
  • Brittany P. (Brookline, MA)
    A Unique History of a Small-town Mob Boss
    Smalltime depicts the history of a small-town mob boss who also happened to be the author's namesake and grandfather. This created an interesting mix of historical nonfiction combined with the author's own observations and journey as he pieced together his family's past, uncovering new information about his dad and grandfather along the way.

    I thought this book was a unique story that had a lot of historical detail, but still captured the personal nature of the author collecting information and doing research about his own family. The writing was quite good and I really enjoyed Shorto's style and the way the story flowed back and forth between the past and present as he uncovered new details. I also liked how the book concluded and tied everything together in the end.

    While this was an interesting book overall, I did find it challenging at times to read because of how detailed certain parts or events were. With a whole list of characters, it was often difficult to follow the various storylines that were woven throughout the book.

    If you enjoy historical nonfiction though and have a fascination with stories that center around the mob, I would definitely recommend giving this a read!
  • Carol N. (San Jose, CA)
    Family saga
    Even though this book, "Smalltime" by Russell Shorto is informative and interesting. At the suggestion of one of his relatives, Shorto begins his research into his family's history, asking the right and often embarrassing questions. He has written a detailed rich history of his family's immigration from Italy to Johnstown, PA. In it he attempts to discover just who was his grandfather. This memoir is filled with lots of interesting vignettes on how the poor Italian immigrants made it rich during Prohibition era, the rise of the local Italian mobsters and their gaming hustles. I was unaware of the kinds of prejudice Sicilians faced when coming to America in the early 1900's.

    I found myself putting it aside to read another book and needed to force myself to finish it for review. I struggled with the middle of the book as I had a hard time keeping track of the small town mobsters, the numbers racket and other illegal games.
  • Becky H
    Criminals in the family
    Lots of individual vignettes are interesting in this memoir. Many individuals and their stories make for a challenging read trying to keep them all straight. Shorto has written a detailed narrative genealogy of his father’s family in an attempt to discover who murdered Pippy and to discover the “real” person who was his grandfather.

    I found it difficult to maintain interest in the book as Shorto leapt from person to person and time frame to time frame. A listing of the numerous characters with their relationship to Shorto would have been helpful. I did learn a great deal about small time criminals and how the numbers racket and other “mob” games worked.
    I do not think my book groups would be interested in discussing this book, but some folks would find it fascinating as an individual read.
  • Anna R. (Oak Ridge, TN)
    I started reading this book, thinking it was going to be a great read. Unfortunately, I am very disappointed. This book would be interesting to those in the author's family, but not to me. I cannot continue to read this book since there are some many books out there that I want to read and will find fascinating.

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