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Living on the Fringe of the Mob Reviewed by Norm Goldman of Bookpleasures.com
Norm Goldman --  bookpleasures.com Norm Goldman -- bookpleasures.com
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Montreal, QC
Tuesday, September 6, 2022


Author: Joseph P.O'Donnell as Told by E. Steven Sachs

Publisher: Outskirts Press

ISBN: 978-1-9772-5009-4

E. Steven Sachs was theformer owner of Topps, which was one of the largest manufacturers offrozen retail hamburgers in the United States.

What is fascinating aboutSteven is for roughly fifty years, he had an ongoing businessrelationship with several Mafia figures. According to Steven, hisdealings with the Mob were based on trust. He trusted them, and theytrusted him. None of the favors he performed for them was illegal,and he never received financial compensation for any favor orinformation he collected on their behalf. 

Steven’s incredibleencounters are recounted in his memoir, Living on the Fringeof the Mob, based on interviews conducted over one year bymystery thriller author Joseph P. O’Donnell. 

Admittedly, some ofSteven’s antics with these characters, as conveyed to Joseph in thememoir, are more unbelievable than fiction. This is a frequentmisunderstanding about memoirs, which are often invented by nature,given that our memory is often unreliable.

When I asked Joseph howmuch of what I was reading was a figment of Steven’s imagination,he informed me that even though he believed the stories, he felt thatmany readers, such as myself, would doubt them. He realized that ifhe were to go forward with publishing the memoir, he needed to meetat least two individuals who would corroborate the incidents. Stevencomplied, and after Joseph communicated with two individuals who readthe manuscript and personally knew Steven, he was reassured that theincidents chronicled were not embellished.

Steven grew up in a tougharea in Brooklyn, New York, where most families were Italian, Irishor German. Being Jewish, Steven had to battle his way throughout hischildhood, and he credits his toughness to helping him survive a verycomplicated life. 

Much of the material ofthe memoir draws on Steven’s personal encounters where, as ayoungster, he played with some kids who ultimately grew into majorfigures in the Mob. Consequently, he was able to cultivate ties andconnections that carried over to his adulthood. As he states: “Ialways understood how these men evolved from the streets of Brooklyn,New York City and the Bronx to lofty positions of power andinfluence. I never questioned how they made their money or conductedthemselves.” 

And although at moments inhis later life he could have been drawn into criminal activities andestablished a partnership with the Mob to ward off his competitors inthe meat industry, he never did. He understood that such interventionwould have injured someone, or worse. This would have led to acriminal inquiry where he would have been implicated.

Most of the personalitiesmentioned in the book with whom Steven had business exchanges aredead, either by natural causes or assassination. Many have beenimprisoned for criminal endeavors, such as loan sharking,racketeering, income tax evasion, and authorizing or committingmurder. In most instances, he has changed or omitted their names outof respect for them and their families. 

To say that there aremoments in this memoir that are nothing short of spine-chilling wouldbe an understatement. These include Steven’s being part of The Bayof Pigs Invasion, which ended up being a failed landing operation onthe coast of Cuba in 1961 by exiles who opposed Fidel Castro’sCuban Revolution.

Another was when Stevenstood up to John Pandolfi, who had been implicated in criminalshenanigans involving meat distribution to supermarkets in the NewYork area.

Steven’s partner, Joeyand his son Anthony, wanted to broaden their pork, beef, and poultrydistribution company into supermarkets in New York. Steven wanted tohelp them out and knew that the Mob had their “hooks” in many NewYork supermarkets.

One of Steven’s closecontacts, whom he nicknamed Uncle John, suggested he meet with JohnPandolfi. When Pandolfi demanded on doing business with him, he hadto operate on his terms. This meant “cash brokerage at sevenpercent.” Steven balked and told Pandolfi there would be no cashbrokerage, only legitimate payment by check.

You can fully imaginePandolfi’s backlash when he retorted: “I’ll make sure yourfuckin’ Topps line of meat will be discontinued in everysupermarket in New York. I can bury your fuckin’ company, and youknow it.” Because of Steven’s link with Uncle John, there wereno unpleasant repercussions following his rejection in doing businesswith Pandolfi. 

Living on the Fringe ofthe Mob is a frank memoir that does not disappoint howcomplicated life can be when the temptation of participating inillicit activities is shunned, even if it means turning downsubstantial money.

O’Donnell draws us in ona voyeuristic adventure that turns out to be riveting andunforgettable.

Quite revealing is what Steven expresses in theEpilogue where he states: “Looking back on those times, I nowunderstand that in many ways my friends were trying to protect notonly me, but also themselves. If they had told me the details oftheir illegal activities, the name of a person they had beaten orassassinated, or the name of a police officer or politician they hadbribed, the FBI could have eventually coerced me to provide thisinformation, and testify against them.” As it turned out, Steveninforms us that he never witnessed any crime and has no specifictestimony to offer.

Follow Here To Read Norm'sInterview With Joseph P. O'Donnell

 Norm Goldman of Bookpleasures.com

News Media Interview Contact
Name: Norm Goldman
Title: Book Reviewer
Group: bookpleasures.com
Dateline: Montreal, QC Canada
Direct Phone: 514-486-8018
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