As a cop Ron Previte was corrupt. As a mobster he was brutal. And in his final role, as a confidential informant to the FBI, Previte was deadly. The Last Gangster is his story -- the story of the last days of the Philadelphia mob, and of the clash of generations that brought it down once and for all.
For thirty-five years Ron Previte roamed the underworld. A six foot-tall, 300-pound capo in the Philadelphia-South Jersey crime family, he ran every mob scam and gambit from drug trafficking and prostitution to the extortion of millions from Atlantic City. By the 1990s, Previte, an old-school workhorse, found himself answering to younger mob bosses like "Skinny Joey" Merlina. Spoiled, cocky, and careless, the young, up-and-coming gangsters were hungry for the media's attention and the public's recognition. Gone were the days of loyalty and discretion.
Convinced that the honor of the "business" was over, Previte became the FBI's secret weapon in an intense and highly personalized war on the Philadelphia mob. Operating with the same guile, wit, and stone-cold bravado that had made him a force in the underworld, and armed with only a wiretap, Previte recorded it all: the murder, the mayhem, and the betrayal.In The Last Gangster, George Anastasia -- the critically acclaimed author of Blood and Honor and The Goodfella Tapes -- tells Previte's story for the first time. Unflinching and enthralling, The Last Gangster is the true story of how the once monolithic, highly organized, powerful, and secretive Cosa Nostra was defeated by its own hand.
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George Anastasia, who spent more than thirty years reporting on crime for the Philadelphia Inquirer, is the grandson of Sicilian immigrants who settled in South Philadelphia. He is the author of six books of nonfiction, including Blood and Honor: Inside the Scarfo Mob—the Mafia’s Most Violent Family (which Jimmy Breslin called the “best gangster book ever written”); The Last Gangster; and The Summer Wind: Thomas Capano and the Murder of Anne Marie Fahey. He lives in southern New Jersey.From Publishers Weekly:
Covering much the same ground as his 1998 book, The Goodfella Tapes, which also dealt with the Philly mob's decline in the 1990s, true-crime journalist Anastasia here focuses on Ron Previte, a crooked cop who became a big moneymaker for the Philadelphia underworld before turning informant for the Feds. The author entertainingly chronicles Previte's long catalogue of brutal misdeeds, but offers little insight into the man's character. There are a few factual errors (e.g., Cleveland underboss Angelo Lonardo did not begin to cooperate with the government until the mid-1980s), but the larger flaw is the effort to inflate Previte's role in diminishing organized crime's influence not only in the City of Brotherly Love but also in the country as a whole, as the subtitle suggests. In addition, Anastasia fails to make a convincing case for the extent of Previte's local impact, undercutting his thesis several times by citing other factors—the elevation of greed, an upsurge in violence, other informants—leading to the demise of the syndicate built in large part by the late Angelo Bruno. The author knows how to enhance the basic story with the odd bit of background detail (like a defense lawyer's favorite sandwich), but the book's primary appeal will be to Mafia buffs eager to read everything written on the subject.
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