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Smalltime: A Story of My Family and the Mob

Smalltime: A Story of My Family and the Mob

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.

Titulo:Smalltime: A Story of My Family and the Mob
ISBN:9780393245585
Tipo de formato:



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Acerca de Russell Shorto

Russell Shorto is the author, most recently, of


    Smalltime: A Story of My Family and the Mob Comentarios

  • Kasa Cotugno

    Well written family memoir and history of underworld activity in Johnstown, PA and how it evolved throughout smallish cities countrywide. Some of the family material goes on and on, but good nonethele...

  • Jeanette

    This is the second son/father memoir I've read this month after several other non-fiction. This is the one I will remember for detail. I could go very long and interesting in this review/reaction beca...

  • Donna Boyd

    Thank you to #NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for providing me with a digital copy of this book prior to publication in exchange for my honest review. Russell Shorto is known for his books of...

  • Diane Hernandez

    Russell Shorto, the author, is not to be confused with his grandfather, Russell Shorto, the Smalltime Mafioso who was the No. 2 man in the small steel mill town of Johnstown between 1946 through 1960....

  • Laura

    I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for a review on Bookbrowse.com.Author Russell Shorto, whose oeuvre is narrative history, accomplishes three things with his latest work. First, h...

  • Patti Parker Markgraf

    Review of Smalltime When I started reading this book, I was a bit distracted. After I read about 50 pages, I decided that I was missing integral, pertinent information and started again. I cannot say ...

  • Barbara Finkelstein

    Russell Shorto wrote this sentence as a tribute to his father. He could have written it about all of our fathers:"Thank you for showing me how to do history, which, it suddenly occurs to me, is nothin...

  • Brandon Pacifico

    Big story about small townVery interesting story that paints a big picture about a small town. Well structured to give historical perspective but not read as a history book....

  • Diana

    Easy read disagreed with some of the "facts"...

  • Marc

    Nice book. The author writes the history of the American branch of his family, originally called the Sciotto's (hence Shorto) from Sicily. And especially his granddad and his dad and the relationships...

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