Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Book Review: Surviving The Mob by Dennis N. Griffin and Andrew DiDonato

by Simon Barrett

A Street Soldiers Life Inside The Gambino Crime Family
I have been salivating over the release of this book for months. I was given a glimpse at an early draft and have been eagerly waiting for it to hit the book stores. That happened a few days ago, and I had a copy in my hands!
I know author Denny Griffin quite well, and I have talked to Andrew DiDonato on more that a few occasions. I had a hunch that Surviving The Mob would be quite the collaboration, and it is. It is a blockbuster and then some.
Let me introduce the protagonists, Denny Griffin is a well known author, crime writer and heads up a new venture Crimewire. Andrew DiDonato grew up in New York and at the tender age of 14 entered the world of crime. A life that led him quickly into the world of organized crime and the Mob.
Surviving The Mob is the story of Andrew DiDonato. In 1997 his world crashed around him, he found himself a wanted man, the Gambino crime family had a price on his head, and the FBI also were hot on his heels. As he told me:
I had two choices, death on the street, or death behind bars
Either the Mob would hit him while he was on the run, or some inmate on the inside would shank him. Life looked very bleak, and very short. In this darkest of darkest times Andrew DiDonato made a decision that even today is still causing tremors in the world of Organized Crime, he did the unthinkable, he became a government witness.
Surviving The Mob is a book that operates on several levels. It certainly lays out Andrews many criminal adventures, some of which are truly amusing. Stealing the car of another crime families money collection guy and finding $80,000 in a briefcase, alas the code of ethics forced him to return the car and the money is a great example. Andrew returned everything but did explain that the cash was $10 short, well the gas tank was empty!
The humor however is far outweighed by the seriousness of his story. Andrew DiDonato even as a teenager was known for his violence, fists gave way to baseball bats, the bats in turn were retired in favor of guns. What probably has saved Andrew is that at no point has he actually killed another human being.
Because of his co-operation with law enforcement he became part of the Witness Protection Program, a program that is far different from the Hollywood version. In my discussions with Andrew this was always a touchy subject. Surviving The Mob sheds a little light on the subject, but just enough to get the mind working. Although it is years later Andrew still has his defenses up. It is always possible that a ghost from the past might return.
I have to admit that probably know more about Surviving The Mob than the regular reviewer, but being objective and taking a step back, I have to say that is a supremely well crafted book. Denny Griffin is a great writer, and Andrew DiDonato adds the action. The balance works just great. Denny is soft spoken, but usually gets his point across, Andrew is a little more forthright in his views, I can only imagine the interesting conversations that took place.
I have to wonder if Andrew told Denny the same thing he told an unhappy customer in a pizza restaurant he opened while in the WPP:
Listen to me and listen good. Don’t come into my place barkin’ orders and actin’ tough. If you say one more word, I’m gonna put your f**kin’ head in that oven
Now that is what I call customer service :)
Surviving The Mob is well worth reading, many names that you have seen on TV or read about in the newspaper are included. Andrew DiDonato may have been just a Foot Soldier in the Gambino crime family, but his testimony effectively removed an entire generation of New York Mobsters.
One thing is crystal clear Andrew DiDonato deeply regrets his previous career choice. The Andrew of today is a far different man from the one associated with organized crime.
You can order your copy of this very excellent book from Amazon by using the link above, I also recommend that at the same time you order a copy of the DVD Surviving The Mob.



Post a Comment