Book Reviews

Miracle at Sing Sing: How One Man Transformed the Lives of America's Most Dangerous PrisonersMiracle at Sing Sing: How One Man Transformed the Lives of America's Most Dangerous Prisoners (St. Martin's Press; June 15, 2004) Order from

"If Lewis Edward Lawes' long career as Warden of Sing Sing were written as a novel, it would surely be criticized as implausible. Over two decades he supervised three hundred executions because it was his duty. But for all that time he argued passionately for the repeal of the death penalty because it was brutal, senseless and unproductive. His adinistration was called humane, honest, firm and fair, and when he retired he did so accompanied by the cheers of more than two thousand prisoners who thought of him as a 'right guy.' A story almost too good to be true, but too true to miss."
-- Mario Cuomo, former governor of New York

"The astonishing and compassionate life of Lewis Lawes has remained one of the buried gems of American prison history until now. Ralph Blumenthal's biography of this patron saint of the dispossessed and discarded restores Lawes to a place of worthy prominence in American history."
--James Morris, author of The Rose Man of Sing Sing

Stork Club: America's Most Famous Nightspot and the Lost World of Cafe SocietyStork Club: America's Most Famous Nightspot and the Lost World of Cafe Society
(Little, Brown and Co., 2000) Order from

"Marvelous. ...You can practically smell the secondhand smoke from Walter Winchell's cigarette and hear the tinkle of ice in Ernest Hemingway's scotch and water."
--Boston Globe

Expanded Review by Pete Hamil, The New York Times
Expanded Interview on the Jerry Jazz Musician web site.


Once Through the Heart: A Police Detective's Struggle to Rescue His Daughter from DrugsOnce Through the Heart: A Police Detective's Struggle to Rescue His Daughter from Drugs (Simon & Schuster, 1992) Order from

"New York Times crime reporter Blumenthal ( Last Days of the Sicilians ) begins this chronicle near the end of the 1980s, on the day NYPD narcotics officer Pat DiGregorio discovered that his daughter Mary Anne was dealing drugs. He proceeds to reconstruct the family's history, detailing DiGregorio's youth and young adulthood; his first marriage (to Mary Anne's mother, who was an alcoholic); his son's death, at age six, of heart disease; his career in the police department and the difficulties he and his second wife, Barbara--also a cop--were having with teenage Mary Anne. DiGregorio gets Mary Anne to enroll in a rehab program; she sticks with it and after two years graduates with her high school class, and later becomes a beautician. Blumenthal's thorough research reveals this family's anguish and examines important issues faced by other parents. But the DeGregorios' story remains curiously encapsulated and somewhat defeatist, as it suggests that the events described were inevitable. Photos not seen by PW. First serial to Parade magazine; movie rights to RHI Entertainment."
Publishers Weekly, Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Outrage: The Story Behind the Tawana Brawley HoaxOutrage: The Story Behind the Tawana Brawley Hoax [with five Times co-authors] (Bantam, 1990) Order from

"The Tawana Brawley case attracted national attention in 1987 when the black teenager from Wappingers Falls, N.Y., claimed that she had been kidnapped, gang-raped and defiled by white racists, among them law officers. Although subsequent investigation found her story to be a fabrication, a media circus erupted, focusing on charges of racial injustice and the antics of Brawley's legal advisers Al Sharpton, Alton Maddox and C. Vernon Mason. In an impressive expose that distills much new information from scores of interviews, McFadden and a team of fellow New York Times journalists present evidence that Brawley concocted her story, with her mother's complicity, because the teen had been on late-night escapades and feared beatings by her stepfather, a man who had fatally shot his ex-wife. Conveyed in cinematic style, this probe is notable for its fresh revelations and its perspectives on racism, politics and media distortion."
Publishers Weekly, Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Last Days of the Sicilians: At War with the MafiaLast Days of the Sicilians: At War with the Mafia: The FBI Assault on the Pizza Connection (Times Books, 1988) Order from

"Rare, real glimpses of the Mafia in action...Last Days of the Sicilians exposes it all." --Robert Daly, The New York Times

"Stunningly reconstructs of the most complex criminal conspiracies in the nation's history." --San Francisco Chronicle

"Riveting, authoritative...a masterpiece of tough reporting." --The Philadelphia Inquirer

The Gotti TapesThe Gotti Tapes [forward] (Times Books, 1992) Order from





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