25 Must Read Organized Crime and Mafia Books

Our list of 25 Mafia books gives you an insider’s view on what makes these powerful leaders and families tick. We’ll take you inside the life of famous gangsters including Al Capone, John Gotti, and Lucky Luciano.

You’ll learn about the rise and fall of some of the most famous organized crime families in history. You’ll read stories from those in New York, Chicago, New Jersey, Italy, and beyond.

These are some of the best true crime stories available and we know you are going to love the non-fiction reads on this list! 

Mafia Books

1. Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires

Five Families

Written by: Selwyn Raab

Published: September 1st, 2005

Pages: 784

In Selwyn Raab's book Five Families: America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires, he talks about the history of five mafia families in New York City. The five families are the Genovese, Gambino, Lucchese, Bonanno and Colombo family.

It’s one of the best Mafia books because it provides some insight into how these notorious gangs have become so powerful over time. It also gives a glimpse into how they operate their business daily and what makes them tick.

This book is perfect for anyone interested in gaining more knowledge about the inner workings of one of America's most influential crime families.

2. Casino

Five Families

Written by: Nicholas Pileggi

Published: October 1st, 1995

Pages: 293

The book Casino by Nicholas Pileggi is a true story about mobster life in Las Vegas. It follows Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal and his childhood friend, Tony Spilotro.

This book provides an inside look at how organized crime brought violence to Las Vegas during the 1970s-1990s while changing the face of gambling forever.

3. Wiseguy


Written by: Nicholas Pileggi

Published: 1985

Pages: 320

Henry Hill grew up in Brooklyn with nothing and became a member of the famous mafia organization, Lucchese crime family.

Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi is Hill's memoir about his time as a mobster for almost twenty years before being arrested and sent to prison.

This book includes stories about murder, drugs, money laundering schemes, and how this young man made it big in organized crime without getting caught until it was too late.

This book provides insight into what life is like growing up around criminals involved with everything from petty theft to murder.

The movie Goodfellas is based on this book.

4. Donnie Brasco: My Undercover Life in the Mafia

Donnie Brasco

Written by: Joseph D. Pistone, Richard Woodley

Published: January 29th, 1988

Pages:  373

The book tells the true story of Donnie Brasco, an alias used by Joseph D. Pistone while undercover with the mafia for six years during his time with the FBI.

While working as an agent, he was able to get inside the infamous Bonanno crime family and become one of their most trusted men.

Through countless hours of work and patience, he gathered enough evidence to arrest over 200 mafia members and bring down multiple families in New York City.

It's one of the highest-rated Mafia books available.

5. I Heard You Paint Houses: Frank the Irishman Sheeran & Closing the Case on Jimmy Hoffa

I Heard You Paint Houses

Written by:  Charles Brandt

Published: June 1st, 2004

Pages: 352

This book tells the true story of Mafia gangster Frank "the Irishman" Sheeran. The title references the phrase the mob would use when they wanted someone killed.

Sheeran spent five years talking to the author, Charles Brandt, about everything he did while in the Bufalino crime family.

You'll hear about his younger years in the US Army, which is where he says he learned to kill. It also talks about the number of people he killed, including confessing to having murdered Jimmy Hoffa.

It's a page-turner and one you will not want to put down!

6. Underboss: Sammy the Bull Gravano's Story of Life in the Mafia


Written by: Peter Maas

Published: December 1st, 1997

Pages: 308

Underboss is a book about the life of Salvatore Gravano, also known as Sammy the Bull. He was a mafia hitman who confessed to 19 murders and was most likely involved in several others.

This book tells his story about how he became a criminal and what it felt like when he decided to turn on his boss John Gotti after being arrested.

You will learn not only about Gravano's crimes but also about his personal life.

It's a great inside look at what happens inside the New York mafia families.

7. The Westies: Inside New York's Irish Mob

The Westies

Written by: TJ English

Published: March 15th, 1991

Pages: 416

TJ English's The Westies: Inside New York's Irish Mob is a well-researched and detailed account of the rise and fall of one of America's most powerful organized crime gangs, the Irish mob in Hell’s Kitchen, New York City.

From the 1960s to its demise in 1988, The Westies were involved in everything from extortion to drug smuggling and murder for hire. They became infamous for their brutality, including kidnapping, torture, rape, and more.

You will also learn about when they would do some work for high-profile mob boss John Gotti.

8. Al Capone: His Life, Legacy, and Legend

Al Capone

Written by: Deirdre Bair

Published: October 25th, 2016

Pages: 432

One of the reasons this is one of the best Mafia books about Al Capone is that it was written with the help of his family. They offered a look inside rare documents, family archives, and personal stories that had not been heard before.

The book starts with Capone's birth in Brooklyn in 1899. It covers his rise as one of the most powerful gangsters in Chicago and his eventual sentencing for income-tax evasion.

You’ll also hear stories about his time in Alcatraz and what happened at the end of his life.

>> More books about the Capone and the Chicago Mafia

9. Capone: The Man and the Era

Capone: The Man and the Era

Written by: Laurence Bergreen

Published: August 5th, 1996

Pages: 704

The 1920s was a time of prohibition, bootlegging, and violence. The decade also saw the rise of gangsters like Al Capone, who became the most infamous criminal in American history. Author Laurence Bergreen takes readers on an unforgettable journey to explore this era with his book Capone: The Man and the Era.

You’ll learn about the fight for control of Chicago’s underworld and some of the other “businesses” Capone ran.

It's a beautiful look at one of the most infamous mob bosses in history.

10. For the Sins of My Father: A Mafia Killer, His Son, and the Legacy of a Mob Life

Written by: Albert Demeo, Mary Jane Ross

Published: September 24th, 2002

Pages: 288

Albert Demeo is the son of one of the most notable killers in the Gambino crime family, Roy Demeo.

Al grew up looking up to this father. They lived in an expensive house with everything they ever wanted, but Al never quite knew where the money came from.

When he was a teenager, his father started to bring him into the business. This was when Al learned the truth about his father's job, which included calling in loans, stealing cars, and even murder.

It’s a fascinating read on what it’s like to grow up in the house of an active mobster and the internal struggle he had in wanting to escape this type of life.

11. The St. Valentine's Day Massacre: The Untold Story of the Gangland Bloodbath That Brought Down Al Capone

The St. Valentine's Day Massacre

Written by: William J. Helmer, Arthur J. Bilek

Published: October 1st, 2003

Pages: 305

The St. Valentine's Day Massacre was a historical event in Chicago on February 14, 1929. It was the most infamous crime committed by gangster Al Capone and his organization, The Chicago Outfit.

In this book, William J. Helmer offers a detailed account of what happened during the massacre and why it happened. He provides details on what led up to the event, what happened during, and the impact on Al Capone and his gang.

It’s an insightful non-fiction book about the Chicago Mafia.

12. Cosa Nostra: A History of the Sicilian Mafia

Cosa Nostra

Written by: John Dickie

Published:  November 1st, 2004

Pages: 370

The Sicilian Mafia, better known as Cosa Nostra, is one of the most notorious criminal organizations in the world. This book by John Dickie covers this topic in-depth and provides insights into how it has grown to be so powerful over time.

It will take you through its origins in rural Sicily up to its current status today. With detailed explanations on every page, this book offers a comprehensive look at everything there is to know about Cosa Nostra.

13. Making Jack Falcone: An Undercover FBI Agent Takes Down a Mafia Family

Making Jack Falcone

Written by: Joaquín "Jack" García, Michael Levin

Published: October 13th, 2008

Pages: 272

Joaquin "Jack" Garcia was an FBI agent that went from humble beginnings to infiltrate the Gambino crime family. This book will take you through his early life in Cuba, his family's escape to the US when he was only nine years old, and through his time in college.

You will also learn about his early years in the FBI, his undercover operations, and what led to him taking down key members of one of New York’s most powerful Mafia families.

This is another one of the best Mafia books that was also made into a movie.

14. Little Man: Meyer Lansky and the Gangster Life

Little Man

Written by: Robert Lacey

Published:  September 1st, 1991

Pages: 559

Robert Lacey's Little Man: Meyer Lansky and the Gangster Life is a true story about Meyer Lansky, one of America's most notorious Jewish gangsters. This book chronicles his life from childhood to the age of 80, when he died in 1983.

It talks about how he went from being an immigrant to becoming one of America's wealthiest mobsters who ran illegal gambling operations throughout North America and Cuba, amongst other crimes.

The book also explores why Lansky successfully managed this empire without ever going to prison for any significant offense.

15. Lucky Luciano: The Real and the Fake Gangster

Lucky Luciano

Written by: Tim Newark

Published: August 31st, 2010

Pages: 320

The life of a gangster is not always what it seems. There are so many misconceptions about the mafia and their lifestyle.

Lucky Luciano's story isn't told enough, which is why you are going to love Lucky Luciano: The Real and Fake Gangster by Tim Newark.

It follows his life as one of the most powerful gangsters from Italy in New York. After being convicted and deported, many rumors flew about his reinstated power. However, things were a bit different than what everyone thought.

Newark takes us through Luciano's life, including what happened during his incarceration and when he returned to Italy.

16. Mafia Dynasty: The Rise and Fall of the Gambino Crime Family

Mafia Dynasty

Written by:  John H. Davis

Published: December 1st, 1993

Pages: 450

It's a story that has been told before, but never in such detail. John H. Davis explores the rise and fall of the Gambino Crime Family with his book Mafia Dynasty: The Rise and Fall of the Gambino Crime Family.

He dives deep into their origins in New York City during the 1920s Prohibition era to their expansion across America by 1970 when they were toppled the FBI.

Alongside mobsters like Carlo Gambino, Paul Castellano, and John Gotti, you will learn about how this family rose to power on bootlegging profits before branching out into heroin trafficking, pornography distribution, money laundering, and more.

17. Murder, Inc.: The Story Of The Syndicate

Murder, Inc

Written by: Burton B. Turkus, Sid Feder

Published: 1951 (Revised, New Edition: 1992)

Pages: 512

Murder, Inc.: The Story of the Syndicate is a non-fiction book written by Burton Turkus. You will learn about the story of Murder, Inc., an infamous group of hitmen in New York City during the 30s and 40s.

 This group was known for using violence to get rid of any potential threats to their business ventures. It will give you an inside look at this organization and how it functioned within New York City's criminal underworld.

Initially written in 1951, the revised version includes all the original and updated research details to provide an even broader picture of this criminal enterprise.

18. The Deadly Don: Vito Genovese, Mafia Boss

The Deadly Don

Written by: Anthony M. DeStefano

Published: May 25th, 2021

Pages: 356

In a time when mobsters were not only revered but feared, Vito Genovese was one of the most powerful and deadly. He worked his way up from small jobs to become a significant player in organized crime.

Anthony M. DeStefano's book, The Deadly Don: Vito Genovese, Mafia Boss offers an inside look at this man's life and how he came to be known as one of the most dangerous men in America.

19. Made Men: The True Rise-And-Fall Story of a New Jersey Mob Family

Made Men

Written by: Greg B. Smith

Published: February 4th, 2003

Pages: 352

In Made Men: The True Rise-And-Fall New Jersey Mafia, author Greg B. Smith gives us a first-hand account of the mobsters that have been involved in the many criminal activities throughout North Jersey, especially in and around Newark. This book details how these individuals became part of the underworld and what they did to rise through its ranks.

You will find out how they became so powerful in the shadow of the prominent crime families in New York. You will also learn about the impact on their mob activities due to the TV show The Sopranos.

20. Chin: The Life and Crimes of Mafia Boss Vincent Gigante


Written by: Larry McShane

Published: May 31st, 2016

Pages: 320

Vincent Gigante, or Chin as he is known among other mobsters, was a boss of the Genovese crime family for over 20 years. He lived an extravagant lifestyle while operating his illegal business and has spent time in prison for racketeering.

The book Chin: The Life and Crimes of Mafia Boss Vincent Gigante by Larry McShane tells the story of how he rose through the ranks to become one of New York's most powerful bosses.

You'll read about his life from childhood to his ongoing struggles with mental health with plenty of details on what went down during those decades.

This is a fascinating tale that will take you deep into one man's world, where power becomes everything.

21. Gotti


Written by: Jerry Capeci, Gene Mustain

Published: June 1st, 1996

Pages: 464

Gotti, by Jerry Capeci, is a detailed account of the life and death of John J. Gotti Sr., one of the most notorious mobsters in US history.

The book begins with an introduction to how he first entered the world of organized crime. It then goes on to detail his many years as boss, which included violence and family feuds.

You’ll also learn more about his trial and the crimes he committed that led to him receiving life imprisonment without parole, as well as what became for him after he was imprisoned.

It’s one of our favorite Mafia books on this list for those fascinating by the New York crime families.

22. Boss of Bosses: The FBI and Paul Castellano

Boss of Bosses

Written by: Joseph F. O'Brien, Andris Kurins

Published: May 23rd, 1991

Pages:  364

In the book Boss of Bosses: The FBI and Paul Castellano, author Joseph F. O'Brien takes readers on a journey through history when he tells the story of how the FBI was in the process of taking down Paul Castellano in 1985.

O'Brien and Kurnis are two FBI agents that successfully planted a bug in Castellano's kitchen, which led to hundreds of hours of incriminating evidence against him.

They talk about what they heard and the ongoing investigation of Castellano that most likely led to his murder.

23. Murder Machine

Murder Machine

Written by: Gene Mustain, Jerry Capeci

Published: August 1st, 1992

Pages: 418

This is the second on our list of Mafia books about the infamous murder gang the DeMeo crew and their leader Roy DeMeo. They were known for the number of murders they committed, for themselves and other crime bosses, and their cold-blooded ways of disposing of the bodies.

It's a terrifying book about the group that has been dubbed "The Murder Machine."

24. The Ice Man: Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer

The Ice Man

Written by: Philip Carlo

Published: June 27th, 2006

Pages: 410

Philip Carlo is a New York Times bestselling author who has written several true crime books. In his most recent book, The Ice Man: Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer, he describes the life and crimes of Richard Kuklinski.

As the title suggests, this book details how Kuklinksi was responsible for over 100 murders in the 1970s and 80s.

He also gives his opinion on what made Kuklinksi so dangerous and discusses why some people lived after being targeted by him while others weren't so fortunate.

25.  The Vapors: A Southern Family, the New York Mob, and the Rise and Fall of Hot Springs, America's Forgotten Capital of Vice

The Vapors

Written by: David Hill

Published: July 7th, 2020

Pages: 382

This book takes you back to Hot Springs, Arkansas, from the 1930s to the 1960s. At the time, this small town was full of money, fortunes, and mafia influence.

You'll hear the story about how Owney Madden, a highly regarded New York gangster, noticed the town's potential and turned into a profit machine for himself and others.

The story is written by the son of a couple that were involved and the impact on his family's life during this time.