All in the Family

How the mob came to Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and small towns across America

Johnstown, Pennsylvania in 1967 (David Wilson/Flickr)
Johnstown, Pennsylvania in 1967 (David Wilson/Flickr)

Every family has things they don’t talk about: those regrettable beliefs espoused by your great-grandmother, or why your uncles don’t speak to each other anymore. Sometimes these are remnants of the old social order, things that were considered shameful 50 years ago that are perfectly normal today (or the opposite). And sometimes, members of your family just happened to be small-time mobsters. The acclaimed writer Russell Shorto, author of such histories as Amsterdam and The Island at the Center of the World, always knew his grandfather and namesake was involved with the Italian mafia, but Shorto never quite got around to digging up the whole tale until now. He joins us on the podcast to discuss his new memoir, Smalltime: A Story of My Family and the Mob.

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Stephanie Bastek is the senior editor of the Scholar and the producer/host of the Smarty Pants podcast.


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