The Chicago Syndicate: "Mafia: The Glamour of Crime" by Fien Mynendonckx
The Mission Impossible Backpack

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

"Mafia: The Glamour of Crime" by Fien Mynendonckx

“As far back as I can remember, I wanted to be a gangster. To me, being a gangster was better than being President of the United States.“–Ray Liotta, Good Fellas

One look at the cover of Mafia: The glamour of crime and one knows it’s an important book. It’s big, it’s classy, and it’s riddled with bullet holes. Fans of gangster movies, mob movies, and The Sopranos will be indebted to their benefactors if this handsome volume finds its way to their piles of holiday gifts.

Filled with both black and white and color photos, and many two-page spreads, Mafia: The Glamour of Crime, authored by Fien Mynendonckx, is a stunning resource that mixes true-crime memories with Hollywood fantasy. There are numerous photographs of real-life mobsters and gangsters and even more stills from the most famous gangster films--The Godfather franchise, Good Fellas, Bugsy, The Untouchables, Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, Scarface and many others.

Mafia: The Glamour of Crime begins with a short introduction and then introduces “Mafia In America,” a chapter that includes the Cosa Nostra, the Irish Mob, and the Kosher Nostra. The following chapter also focuses on history, “Brief History of the Mafia in America,” which looks at a Mafia timeline that starts in 1910 and continues through 1990, finally asking “What now?”

For those unfamiliar with “consigliere,” “waste management business,” “sit-down,” “omerta,” and “Shylock,” there is a glossary that translates mob-talk into English, French and German. And really…you never know when it might come in handy.

“The Stereotype of the Gangster,” a chapter that includes “Real Gangsters,” “Gangster Actors” and “The Gangster Film” leads us into the world of entertainment, where we find “The Mafia in Hollywood.” Film buffs will think they’re in heaven when they browse through the fantastic photos (my personal favorite? A two-page spread for Good Fellas).

The book closes with chapters on the Mafia throughout the world, the reality of the Mafia, an epilogue, and clever quotes from both real-life and celluloid mobsters. Mafia: The Glamour of Crime is more a history of the Mafia on film than it is of the Mafia, and it addresses the romance that Hollywood (and other places throughout the world) has created from Mafia legends, but it is also a very satisfying scrapbook of anecdotes.

Thanks to Bob Etier

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