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The mafia life has fascinated us all one way or another. Big movies like The Godfather, and biographies on Al Capone can capture your attention and force you to read something like Underboss, which is the story of Salvatore 'Sammy the Bull' Gravano's life in the Mafia and ultimately taking the most credit for the smoking gun witness that went on to put Gotti behind bars for the rest of his life.
With books like this, you pretty much have to take everything in it as a grain of salt. I am not saying the entire book is full of lies, but it's written in such a way that Mr. Gravano tries desperately to shine a light on himself as being this good guy, despite all the sins he committed, including those against the Cosa Nostra law that he loves to brag just how loyal he was.
You probably heard of Sammy the Bull in recent years. His daughter decided to cash in on his name herself with the reality show 'Mob Wives' and then her own book which makes him out to be a saint. My biggest problem with Sammy in recent years is this book is a total contradiction and makes him out to be quite a hypocrite.
This book is largely covered by Sammy, with Peter Maas more as an editor. I never read Serpico or the Valachi Papers to really tell you how great Maas is, but by this, the book is somewhat poorly edited, from bad grammer, and you may have to flip pages back and re-read certain sentences.
Sammy started in the Columbo family as an associate, where he carried out his first murder, eventually going into the Gambino family. Along with John Gotti he was one of them that carried out the conspiracy plot to murder the then boss at the time Paul Castellano, eventually moving to take control of the family was Gotti; and Sammy as his right hand man.
And here comes the contradictions. The end of this book is mostly Sammy claiming how great he is compared to Gotti. How he would "never let his son follow his foot steps" and how he loved his family so much he would "never let them get involved in what he did". The final chapter of the book also claims that he and his wife divorced and she moved to Phoenix.
Only 3 years after this book; Sammy along with his wife Debra, his son Gerald ("I would never let my son follow my foot steps"), and even his daughter Karen("My daddy is such a Saint"), were all arrested along with 35 other people in a major drug bust involving ecstasy where they were cashing in up to 500 thousand dollars a week on drug sales. So much for "I'm doing the right thing now" after prison when he got away with the murders of 19 people, and (possibly more that Gotti claimed he killed yet he didn't confess)
When he's called "Sammy the rat" it's not for nothing. I am not trying to paint John Gotti in a positive image, cause he too was arrogantly stupid but so was Sammy. Most of the stuff about Gotti in this book is like a jealous man running his mouth. For someone that complains in this book about how Gotti loved the media, always talking about his 'public' and all that, he has absolutely no room to talk cause he sure did love those talk shows after he served his short prison term from being in the witness protection program, and in this book it's bolstered how he had plastic surgery so no one would recognize him so oops when you see him on TV bragging and loving his spot light. What I mean is the TV movie made from this book, and Sammy getting on talk shows and basically rubbing in everyone's face. This book says "No I don't like how John got the spotlight, I wouldn't mind having some myself".
In the end, Sammy's bullshit excuse of why he testified against Gotti, was because he was getting thrown under the bus by the audio tapes, that were painting Sammy out to be the stone cold killer he was. Yet he claims this, but in the book he was nagging John to murder a guy that he had a feud with after John took a rip off deal. He can say what he wants about that, and John is not innocent either but he did have a point there with Sammy driving him nuts for hits, yet in Sammy's perspective that's all on John.
In the end, I read somewhere that Sammy lost profits of this book and in return was sued by victims of the families to guys he murdered that were confessed in this book. This is a cheap cash in to try and market yourself as some saint when in return you should be lucky you got out on 19 murders. Once again; not trying to paint mobsters out as good people, and I am the last person in the world that will say John Gotti was a great guy, but he didn't rat him out, nor do i buy the whole thing that he was trying to make himself out to be the saint with throwing Sammy under the bus on trial.
I give this book an honest 6/10, as it is quite entertaining on a degree, but at the same time it's not as thrilling as reading Wiseguy. And as for Sammy's daughter Karen that is selling her book and getting TV shows and pulling a Victoria Gotti, don't even waste your time with that shit.