Joseph D. Pistone: Donnie Brasco (book review)

Before i get into thjs review, let me just say that i have never seen the movie. But now that i finished the book i will watch the movie sometime soon to see how close the movie is to the book.

Joe Pistone was an FBI agent who went undercover to infiltrate the mob in New York. He would stay undercover for 6 years from the mid 70s to early 80s. As you can expect this book is full of insights into the mafia and how they worked back in those days. Joe Pistone along with his co writer provide a very easy to read book which will keep you hooked from beginning to end, you will not want to put this book down!

Mr. Pistone will provide you with such incredible details that it makes you feel you are right there with him through it all. Pistone starrts at the bottom and he works his way up the ladder in the mob. Making phony deals with other undercover agents passing as his connections in other states.

Technology back in the 70s was not what it is today, so a few of the times when “Donnie Brasco” wore a wire many of the conversations would be ruined because of faulty equipment, or just simply because the “wise guys” would do things to avoid being caught on tape admitting or discussing their business. Also if Joe Pistone got caught, it would almost certainly mean death for him.

Throughtout the book, there are a few times were the whole operation couldve been destroyed, and it all came down to the actual police department “stepping in” their business.

This is such a deep book, that it should be a must read for everybody who is into this genre, or works as an undercover officer, or simply in the law enforcement field.

At the end of the book there are a couple of pages with all the guys involved in this operation. A lot of them died, and a lot of them got many years in prison. Now go find a copy of this book, and i guarantee you, you will enjoy it as much as i did!

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Publisher: New American Library
Release Date: January 29, 1988
# of Pages: 373

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Kenneth Walton: Fake, Forgery, Lies and eBay (book review)

I picked this book up mainly because it had the title ebay attached to it, and being an ebay buyer of course i had to read it.

First of all it is not as exciting as the title suggests. Kenneth Walton was a lawyer who along with his accomplice sold art on ebay. The paintings they were selling, they were adding signatures to them to basically make them worth more than what they really were. Eventually Kenneth all by himself forged his biggest auction on ebay and thats what brought him all of the trouble that followed.

Kenneth sounds like a very smart person and i got the feeling from reading this book that he just wanted a shot at making some money to pay off his school debt but got mixed up with the wrong people. Mr. Walton however does take full responsability for his actions and eventually turns his life around for the better.

While this is not some book about some great mystery of forging paintings and some kind of inside scoop about the business, it was an excellent and very short read. I highly recommend it if youre into this kind of topics.

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Publisher: Simon Spotlight Entertainment
Release Date: April 25, 2006
# of Pages: 304

Robbert K. Wittman: Priceless (book review)

I put off reading this book for a couple of months… what a mistake that was! I couldn’t put it down and it only took me a couple of sittings to finish it. It is that interesting.

Robert K. Wittman was the founder of the FBI Art Crime Unit, one that focuses on retrieving the world’s stolen treasures from paintings, to sculptures to other rare items that are sold in the black market. Mr. Wittman takes you along going undercover across 3 continents to retrieve items like Rembrandts, Vemeer and an original copy of The Bills of Rights, along with others that are priceless.

Every chapter in the book is dedicated to a different sting operation. Mr. Wittman not only shares with us the details of each operation, but also gives us a history lesson of the items, which i found very interesting getting to know the history of the various paintings. Given that Mr. Wittman is a collector himself, he really knows what he is talking about and also look for when going undercover.

I guarantee you will not be able to put it down. His story is so amazing and you can picture everything in your head as you are reading along! Not too shabby for a guy whose career was almost before it even started due to “The Accident”

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Publisher: Crown
Release Date: June 1, 2009
# of Pages: 336

Jason Kersten: The Art of Making Money (book review)

What a thrilling story about the guy who was able to crack the 1996 one hundred dollar bill (the most secured bill in the US at the moment). Not only was Art Williams a master of this highly illegal craft, but his counterfit was almost unrecognizable to the untrained eye, even when comparing it to real bills. The “pen” used to detect fake bills was useless because Art found a way to bypass this method.

Sometimes I’m skeptical when reading book that are not written by the person the book is about, but Jason Kersten did a lot of research and actually knew the protagonist well. There are a lot of inputs throughtout the book from Art himself.

The book starts at the very beginning of his life and covers everything until his arrests. From growing up in the streets of Bridgeport to his introduction to the art of making money, a craft he learned from an older man and ultimately perfected himself.

At the time of this book’s release Art was still in jail for a second attempt at making counterfit money, and was set to be release in 2013.

I hope one day there is another release from Art Williams himself where it picks up where this book ended. Very well written book and will keep you on the edge.

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Publisher: Gotham
Release Date: June 11, 2009
# of Pages: 304