Smalltime: A Story of My Family and the Mob

Smalltime: A Story of My Family and the Mob

by Russell Shorto

Hardcover

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Overview

One of Newsweek's Most Highly Anticipated New Books of 2021

Family secrets emerge as a best-selling author dives into the history of the mob in small-town America.

Best-selling author Russell Shorto, praised for his incisive works of narrative history, never thought to write about his own past. He grew up knowing his grandfather and namesake was a small-town mob boss but maintained an unspoken family vow of silence. Then an elderly relative prodded: You’re a writer—what are you gonna do about the story?

Smalltime is a mob story straight out of central casting—but with a difference, for the small-town mob, which stretched from Schenectady to Fresno, is a mostly unknown world. The location is the brawny postwar factory town of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. The setting is City Cigar, a storefront next to City Hall, behind which Russ and his brother-in-law, “Little Joe,” operate a gambling empire and effectively run the town.

Smalltime is a riveting American immigrant story that travels back to Risorgimento Sicily, to the ancient, dusty, hill-town home of Antonino Sciotto, the author’s great-grandfather, who leaves his wife and children in grinding poverty for a new life—and wife—in a Pennsylvania mining town. It’s a tale of Italian Americans living in squalor and prejudice, and of the rise of Russ, who, like thousands of other young men, created a copy of the American establishment that excluded him. Smalltime draws an intimate portrait of a mobster and his wife, sudden riches, and the toll a lawless life takes on one family.

But Smalltime is something more. The author enlists his ailing father—Tony, the mobster’s son—as his partner in the search for their troubled patriarch. As secrets are revealed and Tony’s health deteriorates, the book become an urgent and intimate exploration of three generations of the American immigrant experience. Moving, wryly funny, and richly detailed, Smalltime is an irresistible memoir by a masterful writer of historical narrative.



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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393245585
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 02/02/2021
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 60,915
Product dimensions: 9.10(w) x 6.10(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Russell Shorto is the best-selling author of The Island at the Center of the World, Amsterdam, and Revolution Song, and a contributing writer at the New York Times Magazine. He lives in Cumberland, Maryland.

Table of Contents

1 The Setup 1

2 The Victim 11

3 The Comeback 27

4 The Immigrant 37

5 The Cheat 49

6 The Made Man 77

7 The Organization 91

8 The Con 115

9 The Establishment 125

10 The Music 141

11 The Contradiction 151

12 The Haven 165

13 The Murder 177

14 The Fallout 195

15 The Salesman 215

16 The Winner 233

Epilogue 245

Acknowledgments 249

A Note on Sources 253

Illustration Credits 259

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