Review: Operations Family Secrets
Operation Family Secrets: How a Mobster’s Son and the FBI Brought Down Chicago’s Murderous Crime Family by Frank Calabrese Jr., Keith Zimmerman, Kent Zimmerman, Paul Pompian
From the cover:
Operation Family Secrets is the chilling true story of how the son of the most violent mobster in Chicago made the unprecedented decision to work with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to incriminate his own father and to help bring down the last great American crime syndicate—the one-hundred-year-old Chicago Outfit.
The Calabrese Crew’s colossal earnings and extreme ruthlessness make them both a dreaded criminal gang and the object of an intense FBi inquiry. Eventually Frank Jr., his father, and Uncle Nick are convicted on racketeering violations, and “Junior” and “Senior” are sent to the same federal penitentiary in Michigan. Upon arrival, Frank Jr. makes a life-changing decision: to go straight rather than agree to his father’s plans to resume crew activities after serving his sentence. But he needs to keep his father behind bars in order to regain control of his life and save his family. Frank Jr. makes a secret deal with prosecutors, and for six months—unmonitored and unprotected—he wears a wire as his father recounts decades of hideous crimes. Frank Jr.’s cooperation with the FBi for virtually no monetary gain or special privileges helps create the government’s “operation Family Secrets” campaign against the Chicago outfit. The case reopens eighteen unsolved murders and also implicates twelve La Cosa Nostra soldiers and two outfit bosses. It becomes one of the largest organized crime cases in U.S. history.
When the publicist first approached me to review Operation Family Secrets by Frank Calabrese, Jr., two thoughts came across my mind. The first was what could have his father possibly done to him to have him turn on his own flesh and blood. And the second thought was how in the world did he live to tell the tale much less write a whole book about it.
After reading the book, my immediate reaction was WOW! This book was truly an eye opener in every way imaginable. At times I felt a little lost just because there was so much name dropping that it was hard to keep track of who did what and who killed who and who died and etc. But other than that, I thought the book was excellent in painting a picture of what it’s liked to be trapped in the mob and being torn between the love he had for his father and doing what’s best for him as well as society.
It was heart wrenching to read about the various crimes his father committed as well as the way he treated other people. It was extremely difficult for me to read about how cruel some people can be. I know very little about mobs and gangs before reading this book and I was completely blown away by how some people could be so cold and could walk away from a murder scene without feeling guilty.
On the other hand, I’m glad that Calabrese Jr was able to realize what was right and what was wrong and found a way to get out of that world. We get the story from his point of view, so of course I feel a little more sympathetic towards him. I’m glad he got his second chance in life and had a change of heart when he was arrested to turn his life around.
Operation Family Secrets is an enlightening look into how mobs work and it gives you a behind the scenes look at what Calabrese had to go through in order to put his father away for life. It’s definitely not a light read, but I recommend it to those who are interested in learning a bit more about mobs and gangs.