The National Enquirer is celebrated on the eve of its 60th anniversary by Pope's powerful biography of its creators, the family patriarchs. The book, which sometimes reads like a straightforward Puzo sequel, chronicles the arrival of Generoso Pope, the author's grandfather on these shores with $10 and no prospects; Gene, Generoso's son and publisher of the scandalous tabloid; and the realization of the ultimate American immigrant dream. Its chapters detail the Pope men's achievements, the grandfather's construction firm building some of Gotham's landmarks and the father's grooming of a struggling paper into a major publication. Crowded with presidents, celebrities, and mobsters, this bio of ambitious alpha males, in a dysfunctional clan worthy of a soap opera, is among the best portraits of Italian-American life to appear in some time. (Publishers Weekly
In writing this admiring account of his grandfather Generoso and father Gene — 'two titans' who 'changed America''—Pope relied on more than 500 interviews as well as extensive research done for several unpublished books on the family and its enterprises, including two projects commissioned and later aborted by his father. The result is a richly detailed tale of businessmen, mobsters, and politicians that reads like a soap opera written by Mario Puzo. Beginning with Generoso's arrival in New York in 1906, at age 15, with little money, the author tells a multigenerational story in which the immigrant started out as a laborer in Long Island's sand pits, pursued his belief that 'America is a place of dreams coming true' and created a hugely successful building-supply company during New York's 1920s skyscraper boom. He received help from shady characters and shrewd operators, including mobster-friend Frank Costello and attorney Roy Cohn, who provided strong-arm and deal-making expertise in return for favors. The author writes that Gene later distanced the family from mobsters while making the Enquirer a national tabloid and ushering in the era of celebrity journalism. Patriarch Generoso emerges as a savvy opportunist who obtained dirt on his opponents to get his way. His favoring of like-minded Gene over two older sons created long-lived animosities within the family. Gene's mother even told him, 'You are the abortion I should have had.' Throughout the book, Pope provides engrossing stories about Il Progresso's influence in New York and national elections, the long battle to win a place for the sensational Enquirer at supermarket checkouts, and Gene's tyrannical insistence on concocting gripping articles for the tabloid's millions of readers. Also included are portraits of Mussolini, Frank Sinatra, A. J. Liebling, Carlo Tresca, Joe Bonanno and Joe Profaci. Readable and revealing, and the vividly re-created scenes cry out for film treatment. (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))
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About the Author
Paul David Pope began working for his father, Gene Pope, Jr., publisher of the National Enquirer, as a teenager. Following Gene's death, after Paul mounted a bid to acquire the newspaper that fell just short, he embarked on the writing of this revelatory book. He lives in Weston, Florida, near the towns of Lantana and Manalapan, where his father relocated the National Enquirer and his family from New Jersey and New York in 1971. For more information, visit www.thedeedsofmyfathers.com.
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