The Deeds of My Fathers MP3 CD – Oct 1 2010
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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titans' who 'changed America''―Pope relied on more than 500 interviews as well as extensive research done for several unpublished books on the family and its enterprises, including two projects commissioned and later aborted by his father.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)) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Paul David Pope is the son and grandson of Generoso Pope, Jr and Sr. Pope Sr emigrated to the United States in the early years of the last century from a small town near Naples. A town that was definitely too small to hold Pope Sr and his dreams and ambitions. As a penniless immigrant in New York City, Pope Sr worked hard and, with help from some "friends", became one of the most successful players in the building trades in New York. He owned newspapers and radio stations as well as concrete companies and was a power-to-be-reckoned with in both New York political and economic circles in the first half of the century. He died at a relatively early age, leaving his empire to his three sons and his wife.
Pope Sr's family life certainly wasn't as successful as his business and public life. He married a fellow immigrant and had three sons with her. Two born early in the marriage, the third born nine or so years after the first two. Pope Sr had very little time for his wife and first two sons, dismissing all of them as "weak". His love and caring - what there was of it - was reserved for his youngest son, Gene Pope, Jr, in whom he seemed to see the traits that he saw in himself. After Sr's death, the mother and other sons pushed Pope Jr out of the family businesses and he went off on his own to build a base. That base was to be the "National Enquirer", which Gene Pope Jr bought after WW2, with a little help from his godfather, Frank Costello. He built the paper up to the current position its in as the country's foremost tabloid.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Pope and his father, Generoso Pope Sr., were leading-- if the word is taken to mean, "made a lot of money" -- newspaper publishers. Generoso was the main fascist publisher of the 1930s, and Il Progresso, his paper, counted for plenty. Pictures in Paul David Pope's "The Deeds of My Fathers" of Generoso with top pols - very top, including Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman - attest to that.
Not every other statement in the book is equally reliable.
Generoso left Italy at age 16 with $10 for New York, where he got a job shoveling sand. Eventually, he owned the company. He did not "build New York," but he sold a lot of sand.
He may or may not have been the politically astute businessman his grandson says he was. Being mobbed up with Frank Costello had more to do with it.
Il Progresso was successful, too. Pope had a surefire technique for selling advertisements. Buy ads or have your legs broken.
This is not in this book.
Generoso appears to have been a mixture of gonif, padrone, wardheeler, social butterfly and patriot. He was proud of being Italian and proud of being American - New York's Columbus Day parade was his doing. He was a man of principle in his own way. When Mussolini started aping Hitler's racial laws, Pope called him out on it.
It would be interesting to know whether it was a genuine colorblindness, or shrewd New York politics.
It would also be interesting to know whether Il Progresso was secretly funded by the Italian government or the Fascist Party. It is inconceivable that they did not offer, but I can just barely conceive of Pope's telling them he did not need to be paid to do what he was proud to do.
He was not a man to overlook nickels, but he was also not a man to want to appear to need nickels.
Gene Pope, the third but favored son, got financing from Costello, his godfather, to buy the New York Enquirer, a sleazy weekly of rightwing tendencies after his mother, who hated him, and his brothers aced him out of his inheritance. It is never explained how, legally, Gene lost out on the money, which should have been his even when the triumvirate ousted him from the manager's jobs in the family rackets. . . . er, businesses.
Pope did not invent checkbook journalism, made-up celebrity stories or the practice of publishing pictures that the dailies wouldn't touch. The Daily Graphic had done all that before he was born. But he did manage to place his sleazy paper at supermarket checkout stands.
The story of how he accomplished that, and the fact that he met resistance from grocers, is one of the more curious episodes in the book.
Also of interest is his close relationship with Missy Smith, the name given to the desired Enquirer reader. Missy was a housewife who didn't give a flip for international affairs etc., but "was not stupid." I dunno about that. Missy read about the miracle garlic and vinegar cure every two months for 30 years, and you have to be pretty stupid to keep paying money for that.
It is more than a little ironic that Paul Pope finishes by saying he doesn't want his grandfather and father to be forgotten. But the only people who could conceivably remember Gene, at least, with admiration would be Missy Smith, and she wouldn't give a damn.
The double biography appears to be a fair-minded attempt to portray in as good a light as possible a man's father and grandfather, while acknowledging their violence, Mafia ties and reprehensible treatment of women.
Fair-minded but not tough-minded enough. Paul Pope attempts to portray the Enquirer as a paper as honest and faithful to the facts as the dailies. Gene's critics were seldom as guiltless as they pretended, but it is not true, as Paul Pope pretends, that Gene Pope left the sleaze behind when the Enquirer went to color printing and all gossip all the time in 1979.
The National Enquirer in color was in effect an entirely new publication using an old name. The old Enquirer lived on as the Weekly World News. Paul Pope never mentions the WWN.
The Weekly World News folded in the '90s, and the Enquirer's owner went into bankruptcy a few weeks ago.
Gene Pope made the world safe for silly gossip, and his son is right to think that it has infiltrated the columns of papers that scorned Gene Pope and all his works. But he could not make it safe for the printed Enquirer and Weekly World News.
Television and the Internet can outsleaze Pope's Brit imports with ease.