4 out of 4 stars
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In Executive Hoodlum, the attention-grabbing first chapter, “Sit Down,” (a face-off with mobsters who are fuming about being conned by his father) sets the tone for the entire book. This fascinating biography of a successful businessman, John Costello, whose father had close connections with the “Outfit,” (or mob in non-Chicago speak) provides inspiration for anyone growing up in less than ideal circumstances.
Based on John’s upbringing, one might believe that young John Costello would tumble headlong into his father’s dark world. Yet, against all the odds, John excelled both in school and in athletics. These achievements were counter to his father’s expectations, as his father could see no value in either. Despite having no support from his father, Costello became an All-American track star in high school and rose to captain of his rowing team at Loyola Marymount University. After graduation, he continued his pattern of success by becoming a rising star within the exploding semi-conductor world. All the time, John heard a bewitching song from the dark shadows of his father’s world, calling to him, tempting him to a very different lifestyle. Costello continued to walk a tightrope between his mob-connected family and the more legitimate corporate world throughout his first four decades of life.
Executive Hoodlum weaves a story of character strength, of individual perseverance, and one man's drive to gain distance from a dark family history. The strong writing style lends an affinity towards John Castello as he works to find his way through life. Executive Hoodlum is not your typical “All American Boy Makes Good” story but, instead, a tale of a street kid beating the odds, defying expectations, and struggling with hate and anger instilled by his life. At times, John loses the battle against those negative urges.
John Costello must surely have inherited a healthy portion of his father’s charisma. In his working career, his charm, combined with a fearless approach to life, and his innate intelligence, John gained a competitive edge nearly impossible to defeat. By the time I read the last page, I felt struck by the belief that no matter which side of the tightrope Costello had chosen, he would have risen to the top, and I feel grateful he decided upon a legitimate corporate career.
The editing and structure of the book are excellent. I enjoyed Executive Hoodlum and rated the book 4 out of 4. I think that anyone interested in crime, crime families, or who have an interest in experiencing the life of someone who has beaten the odds will enjoy Executive Hoodlum.
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