Top Hoodlum: Frank Costello, Prime Minister of the Mafia

TOP HOODLUM                                       ANTHONY M. DESTEFANO

The press nicknamed him "The Prime Minister of the Underworld." The U.S. Treasury's Bureau of Narcotics described him as "one of the most powerful and influential Mafia leaders in the U.S." But to friends and associates, he was simply "Uncle Frank." Who was Frank Costello really? That's the question Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Anthony M. DeStefano sets out to answer--in this definitive portrait of one of the most fascinating figures in the annals of American crime . . .

Using newly released FBI files, eyewitness accounts, and family mementos, Top Hoodlum takes you inside the Mafia that Frank Costello helped build from the ground up, from small-time bootlegging and gambling to a nationwide racketeering empire. The book's stunning revelations include:

* Costello's secret interviews with federal investigators--now released for the first time
* His private meetings with FBI director J. Edgar Hoover
* His partnership with Charlie "Lucky" Luciano and how they brutally displaced the old guard of the Mafia
*Surviving an assassination attempt by Genovese Family hitman Vincent "Chin" Gigante
*His crime family's role in the now legendary suicide of Abe "Kid Twist" Reles, a Murder, Inc. member who was about to rat out the mob
* His personal involvement in the notorious 1947 "mob summit" in Havana, Cuba
* His secret interests, both real and suspected, in Las Vegas, New Orleans, and Manhattan night clubs like the Copacabana
* His power over politicians, rapport with reporters, and amazing ability to evade the feds
* His refusal to admit his crimes long after he retired--until his death in 1973

Sometimes shocking, sometimes amusing, and always riveting, these are the stories that have inspired American crime classics like The GodfatherCasinoGoodfellas, and The Sopranos. This is the man who made the Mafia such a powerful force in our nation's history. This is Top Hoodlum.


This book is a fascinating story of one Frank Costello. Who began back during the Volstead Act with Luciano, Lansky, and some of the others? This was before the five families. Here you get to see hie rise to power especially after Luciano is deported to Italy. He survives an assignation attempt by one Chin Gigante who later would still become a crime boss even after botching this attempt. Costello uses his smarts to overcome people and problems. Problems being people wanting to testify against the family regardless of where they may be staying.
You also get a look at how he uses his political and other government officials. I found this to be a very good book and full of a lot of information. He even goes into things when he was to have been retired. More to this story and book than many others that I have read and one that gives you the sense of a true gangster in all he accomplished and overcame. Especially when others ended up in prison. Very much worth the read. I received this book from I gave it 5 stars. Follow us at

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