Being Oscar: From Mob Lawyer to Mayor of Las Vegas by Oscar Goodman and George Anastasia

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Being Oscar: From Mob Lawyer to Mayor of Las Vegas by Oscar Goodman and George Anastasia

Category: Autobiography
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A book I really didn't expect to like but which I found refreshingly thought provoking and a good listen.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 7 hours 36 minutes Date: February 2014
Publisher: Audible
ISBN: 978-1602861886

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I've a confession to make. I've done something which I tell our reviewers they must never do: I took a book to review which I didn't expect to like. The Mafia, the mob - call it what you will - are not people I admire and I thought it would be a small step to extend that to an attorney who defended them. Las Vegas? Well, it's not going to be my destination of choice. I'm not against gambling, but I struggle with the concept of travelling to a city that revels in it. Oscar Goodman says that had he been the benevolent dictator of Las Vegas rather than the mayor he would have legalised prostitution and drugs. Hmm... This book was going to be one of those that I threw against the wall in disgust, wasn't it?

No.

First of all Goodman is a lot more likeable than I expected. He doesn't just admit that he's a gambler - he seems proud of it. He's a risk taker and always has been. He's open about the fact that he drinks too much: ring him in the evening and he might sound quite lucid but the chances are that he won't remember anything about the call the next day. But there are things he feels strongly about. His family is one, the sanctity of the law another and Las Vegas is the third.

Being a lawyer to the mob came about accidentally. He undertook a defence almost by default - there wasn't a lot of choice available - and when he did well his fame spread and continued to spread. His clients included Nicky Scarfo, Meyer Lansky and Lefty Rosenthal and from the boxing world, Mike Tyson and Don King. His approach was that no matter what his clients might be reputed to have done they were entitled to a fair trial, which meant that the prosecution had to prove the case, honestly. Goodman was prepared to go to great lengths to ensure that this happened. Some of the stories he tells are funny, some enlightening and far too many are frightening, not from the point of view of the book, but because of what it tells us about law enforcement.

Goodman says - and I found little reason to doubt him - that there was an attitude in law enforcement that the 'mob' were intrinsically guilty and any means - fair or foul - could be used to ensure that they went to prison for as long as possible. And even if they weren't guilty of this particular crime - they'd certainly have been guilty of something else. He spent thirty five years countering this attitude - and says himself that he made good money from it and he, his wife and four adopted children lived well.

There came a time though when he was bored and he decided that he would run for mayor of his beloved Las Vegas and when elected he approached the job with the same attitudes he had applied to his legal work. In his legal practice he seemed flamboyant - but as mayor of Las Vegas he was larger than life.

I listened to an audiobook, read by Goodman himself and whilst it's not up to the standard of a professional narrator he does bring the stories to life in his own unique way. I found the read surprisingly enjoyable and the seven and a half hours went far more quickly than I expected. I'd like to thank Audible for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

For more audiobook stories from the courtroom we can recommend The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Means of Ascent by Robert A Caro. For more about the Mafia from the point of view of the law enforcement agencies you might enjoy Making Jack Falcone: An Undercover FBI Agent Takes Down a Mafia Family by Joaquin 'Jack' Garcia.

Buy Being Oscar: From Mob Lawyer to Mayor of Las Vegas by Oscar Goodman and George Anastasia at Amazon You could get a free audio download of Being Oscar: From Mob Lawyer to Mayor of Las Vegas by Oscar Goodman and George Anastasia with a 30-day Audible free trial at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Being Oscar: From Mob Lawyer to Mayor of Las Vegas by Oscar Goodman and George Anastasia at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Being Oscar: From Mob Lawyer to Mayor of Las Vegas by Oscar Goodman and George Anastasia at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Being Oscar: From Mob Lawyer to Mayor of Las Vegas by Oscar Goodman and George Anastasia at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Being Oscar: From Mob Lawyer to Mayor of Las Vegas by Oscar Goodman and George Anastasia at Amazon.com.


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