Born in 1942, Salvatore "Sal" Lucania was not only raised but educated by the streets of East Harlem. Dropping out of his Catholic high school at 15 after punching out a priest, a formal education was not Sal's future. As such, it would have been easy to fall into the trappings of "made man" status in the mafia, like his cousin Charles "Lucky" Luciano. But Sal had a different vision of the future, if he could just escape the confines of his neighborhood and defy the ways of the people in power: the bullies, the "ruling class," local government corruption and his own mafia family culture- in order to create a different life than the one fate might have otherwise intended.
"I was born an outlaw in outlaw culture. I refused to be forced into the powerless class of the ordinary, law-abiding citizen. I always saw things from outside the box because I was born outside the box, so I was free to think for myself."
THE GANGSTER'S COUSIN is a wonderfully different take on the usual Mafia story.. From his humble beginnings in New York and across four continents, Sal's memoir takes the reader on a sometimes exciting, sometimes poignant, and often humorous adventure as he finds himself in unbelievable situations and meeting an array of unique and funny characters along the way. Follow Sal's unique perspective and find out why he strives so hard to stay ahead of a different type of criminal class--the the people who make the rules.
Growing up in the streets of Harlem in the 1940s and 50s, Sal Lucania survived by outwitting neighborhood bullies, the abusive priests who ran his school, local gangsters, and even some distant mafia relatives. He was born into a Sicilian family in 1942 and was named for his cousin Salvador Charles "Lucky" Luciano. As a Sicilian, he took on the philosophy of his culture: "No authority higher than our own." As a relative of "Lucky" Luciano, he took on some of the negative media images of Luciano as a dangerous person. And he sometimes got special treatment because of his relative. Either way, he lived his own unconventional life. At 16 Sal punched an Irish Christian Brother and got kicked out of school. At that time he entered his first career: bootlegging Chanel No. 5 perfume with the help of his cousin Carl, a "made man" in the Gambino family. Later, depressed by the dishonor among some associates, the violent deaths of good friends, one try at honest labor - hauling 96-pound cement bags - he decided to get out of Harlem. His journey away from Harlem led him to dealing craps in Las Vegas, becoming a pioneer in the wind business, exposing a group Scientologists, founding a spiritual community in Northern California, spending time in federal prison and mining diamonds in West Africa. Presently he lives outside of San Francisco, his five adult children nearby. His devotes his time to seeking underlying truths of life and writing.