Review of THE PRESIDENT STREET BOYS by Frank DiMatteo
OK, first off, this is not a true crime mafia tell all. It is actually a memoir. Second, yes, there is death and mayhem, but not how you expect. Third, it’s not about a single gangster. It’s about the crew and the world around them. Some of you will pick up this book with preconceived notions. I did. That changed fast and it will for you readers as well.
I digress; let me go back to the beginning.
Frank DiMatteo was born into a world of mafia hitmen in 1950s South Brooklyn. There is no other way to put it. The Mafia was at its peak during that time. His father, Ricky DiMatteo, was a hitman and bodyguard for the legendary Gallo brothers: Larry, Albert, and, of course, the rock star Crazy Joe.
Ricky DiMatteo was a hitman but was also scary smart. Smart enough to turn down getting made so he could remain independent. You read books about guys in organized crime who are loud and flashy, but that wasn’t Ricky. He was a family man who loved his son but also put in work and earned. He was a very feared and well-respected man.
By the age of 10, Frank DiMatteo knew his father and uncles were different. And by the age of 12, was driving in the streets. He grew up fast, exposed to things most kids never come close to. As I read the book, I kept thinking to myself, “This fucking Frank is either scary smart, incredibly lucky or was just schooled very well by his father.” Some of the stuff Frank was a part of and around made me wonder aloud, “How is he making it through all this?” Some of the situations Frank went through in the 70s and 80s… He definitely had a guardian angel. Simply put, Frank’s world from roughly 1970 on was like and urban Wild West. I can’t start listing specific incidents. There are so many that individual readers have to go down the rabbit hole and make their own judgment.
If you came into this looking for Crazy Joe stories, you’ll get a few. However Crazy Joe is more of a peripheral character. His fingerprints are everywhere but this isn’t about him. No one man does everything; neither do 3 brothers. They have a crew of 50-60 guys to make things happen. This book is a street level view of the real guys that made things happen and the world they inhabited.
Frank DiMatteo had a bird’s eye view for many historical incidents. He gives you a unprecedented level of insight into street level organized crime. Finally a book focused on the guys in the trenches, which is a welcome relief.
THE PRESIDENT STREET BOYS is nothing like any other mafia related book I’ve ever read. Some books like this are cold and clinical or written by somebody with things to prove or an axe to grind. Not Frank DiMatteo’s. The tone of it is warm. As you read Frank’s words, you feel nothing but heart in his voice. Some people growing up this way would have gone completely off the rails. Not Frank. Frank is a human being.
I loved this book. I will be reading it again in the future. The level of detail is so high, to me, it requires multiple passes to absorb it all.
And I give Frank credit. He ended his memoir with a serious cliffhanger that will leave you wanting more.
Interview to follow.