Read advance reader review of Smalltime by Russell Shorto

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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 in USA  Feb 2021
    272 pages
    Genre: Biography/Memoir

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There are currently 9 member reviews
for Smalltime
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  • Lynn D. (Kingston, NY)
    Mobsters in the Family
    I enjoyed this book a lot. Shorto begins the story of his grandfather's years as a smalltime racketeer in PA by tracing his family back to their Sicilian roots. The 20th century Italian-American experience is central to this story. Shorto engages the reader by framing the story with his journey of learning about his grandfather, his father, and ultimately, himself. Highly recommended.
  • Portia A. (Monroe Township, NJ)
    The history of a time
    I'm not Italian, no one I know was in the mob (with one possible exception) but I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
    Really a tale of a part of America and a history of a small town with small-time mobsters in an era from the 1930s to now..of a family trying to make it any way they could..
    I highly recommend this as history and the as the author's very personal story.
  • Dorothy H. (Folsom, CA)
    True story of Italian immigrants and the Mafia
    This book is finding your roots on steroids. The author tells of his immigrant great grand fathers journey to the US and how the family became involved in the Mafia in Johnstown PA in the early part of the last century. The author speaks to the conditions that brought the family to US and what they endured once here. Life for them was very difficult.
  • Joan P. (Owego, NY)
    Smalltime is a very interesting narrative history of a family and the Mafia in a small city in Pennsylvania. Russell Shorto is urged by friends and family to tell the story of his grandfather, Russ, and his life of crime. As he listens and records stories he finds to fully understand he must explore the beginnings of the Italian immigration to America. The motivation for the entry into the illegal life was poverty and the easy money to be made during prohibition.
    Along with the story of mob, Shorto begins to realize the inaccuracy of childhood memories. His father, Tony, had a very distant relationship with his father and never entered the crime family.
    Smalltime is not for everyone but I found it informative, thought provoking, and very well written.
  • Patricia W. (Desoto, TX)
    I enjoyed Smalltime. It gave me a better understanding of immigrants including the dire circumstances of some of their lives in their birth countries, how difficult it was for them to make a living in the United States, and how these hardships affected their family lives and their choices. It was interesting to learn about the daily workings of a small-town mob. Some of the descriptions brought back fond memories such as sheath dresses in department store windows. I never knew that the pinball industry severely declined after most homes had televisions, but I most enjoyed reading about the family relationships. Just as in the book, many people do not know much about the lives of their parents and grandparents, which limits their understanding of why they lived as they did. Through the exploration of his grandfather's life with the help of his father, the author developed a new and deeper understanding of his family.
  • Patti P. (Phoenix, AZ)
    Review of Smalltime
    When I started reading this book, I was a bit distracted. After I read about 50 pages, I decided that I was missing integral, pertinent information and started again. I cannot say enough how very glad I did just that - started again. I really loved this book!! Rich in history I never knew (how much prejudice Italian immigrants—Sicilians in particular—faced coming to the US during the early 1900s), big personalities that I often loved and/or despised. What I loved most was the Journey Russell and his father Tony took in the creation of this memoir. The "righting" of wrongs and the discovery of who they were despite and in spite of their roots. Thank you for providing me with an advanced reader copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
  • 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.
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