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日期:2021-08-30 20:19


Top 6 books about gangsters


1. The Godfather by Mario Puzo



An obvious choice, perhaps, but a reflection of how seminal it is to the genre. Francis Ford Coppola’s film adaptation is regarded as one of the greatest of all time, but the book is a classic in its own right. It introduced terms like Cosa Nostra3 and omertà to a mass audience and defined the public perception of mobsters for decades to come.

也许大家都会选这本书,这也反映出它对这类小说影响深远。弗朗西斯·福特·科波拉据其改编的电影可视作史上最优秀的作品之一,而这本书本身也堪称经典。它向广大读者介绍了Cosa Nostra(美国黑手党)和omertà(缄默法则)等黑帮用语,并且在接下来的数十年内界定了公众对黑帮人物的认知。

2. Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi


Adapted by Martin Scorsese as the film Goodfellas, Pileggi’s account of the life of mobster Henry Hill was the starting point for the modern-day depiction of the gangster. The book set the template for all that followed – from Casino and Donnie Brasco right through to The Sopranos.


3. American Tabloid by James Ellroy


Ellroy dedicates his masterpiece to “bad men, and the price they paid to secretly define their time”. Covering the period from JFK’s4 election to his assassination, Ellroy takes us into the world of thugs, fixers5 and killers on the fringes of power. It still amazes me that in 600 pages, the closest thing to a hero6 is a hitman who by his own reckoning has killed more than 500 people. It was accused of glorifying criminals, but I prefer Ellroy’s own explanation: this is a story of three men crushed by the weight of their own evil.

艾尔罗伊将这部杰作献给“坏人,还有他们为默默塑造自己的时代而付出的代价”。故事发生在从约翰·F. 肯尼迪当选总统到遇刺身亡的这段时间,作者将我们带入暴徒、毒品贩子和杀手的世界,将我们带到了权力的边缘。至今仍让我惊叹不已的是,600页的故事里,唯一跟英雄沾边儿的人物是一个据自己估算刺杀了500多人的雇佣杀手。有人曾指责这本书在为犯罪分子唱赞歌,但我更赞同艾尔罗伊自己的解释:这本书讲述的是三个男人被自己沉重的罪恶压垮的故事。

4. The Power of the Dog by Don Winslow


Winslow’s novel chronicles the first 30 years of the US’s “war on drugs”. Epic in every sense, the book lays bare the violence, futility and hypocrisy of the policy, and is made all the more striking by its grounding in true events. But this is much more than a fictional exposé of recent history; as in The Godfather, it’s the personal relationships that drive the narrative as the friendship between DEA7 agent Art Keller and narco kingpin Miguel Angel Barrera disintegrates into a blood feud.


5. LA Confidential by James Ellroy


For my money8, Ellroy’s five-book run from The Big Nowhere to The Cold Six Thousand is as strong as any crime author has put together. LA Confidential focuses on the LA mob scene after Siegel9, but takes in LAPD corruption, institutional racism, high-class prostitution and more. Sprawling and complex, yet exquisitely plotted, it’s the pathos Ellroy imbues in his tough guys that sets this apart. That and the fact that it features the villainous Dudley Smith at his absolute zenith.


6. After Hours by Edwin Torres


Torres’s work opens up the rarely featured world of Puerto Rican gangs in Spanish Harlem10. It is the second book in the series, and this time Carlito Brigante is older and wiser and looking for a way out of the life – and anyone familiar with the genre knows that never goes well. The book hums with authenticity, and Brigante is a standout character: a killer and a survivor, but smart and thoughtful with it.