I always believed there was one of those ages old perceptions vs. reality question when it came to the late Mafia Don, John Gotti and his reign as the head of the Gambino crime family. Long time crime reporter and bestselling author George Anastasia offer’s up some family insider insights that seem to point out the so-called “Dapper Don” wasn’t so much a “made man’ as much as he was a media made man.In Gotti’s Rules: the Story of John Alite, Junior Gotti and the Demise of the American Mafia, Anastasia utilizes stacks of FBI files and insights from John Alite, sometimes described as an infamous Mafia hit man and at other times as a mob turncoat; to lay out his case that the senior Gotti was not all that the media portrayed and his son “Junior” Gotti was nothing but a small time punk and wanna be gangster.
Anastasia offers a series of Gotti’s Rules, throughout the book which sound very hard and fast until you realize that the applied to everyone but the Don himself. At times they read like they could form a criminal business leadership book; sort of like How to Break Legs and Unduly Influence People. My favorite has to be the so-called unwritten mob rule about not selling drugs, while Gotti and those around him including his own brother Frank benefitted mightily from the sales of street drugs.
Alite certainly is no angel, but he does spill the beans on his own troubling life choices and the circumstances that place him in the crosshairs of multiple criminal investigations that led him to a life behind bars or on the lam. Some of Alite’s tales stretch credulity and I get the sense that in reality he much more of a light weight then he would lead you to believe.
I do find Anastasia/Alite’s portrayal of Junior as that “tough guy” type who picks a fight then bails and let’s somebody else battle it out highly believable. If he wasn’t his father’s son, he certainly would have never made it on to the organizational chart.
While it may not rank as Anastasia’s best work, I found it to be a highly entertaining, quick read.