The Deeds of My Fathers
Paul David Pope
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". . . a revelation written by a man who knows where all the skeletons are buried . . ."
Solid writing of a fairy tale American dream.
Paul David Pope is the inheritor of the dreams and drive of his grandfather, Generoso “Gene” Pope nee Papa, who founded the fortune, and his father Gene Pope who was cut out of the fortune and struck out on his own.
The Deeds of My Fathers is a comprehensive biography of Pope’s family: the good, the bad, the ugly and the extraordinary, but what makes Pope’s tale so compelling is not the dark twists and shadows, but his simple candor about his families origins, rise, fall and rise again. Pope does not gild the dark lilies but lays out the facts without sentimentality.
I was entranced by Generoso’s determination and grit, and the way he maintained his principles even in the face of dangerous odds and stronger forces. To be sure, Generoso was not shy about his mob connections or how he used them, even in defense and support of Il Duce, Benito Mussolini, but what is so striking is how much he gave back to the people of his village. His generosity was colored by his pride and prejudices and yet it still made a difference in so many people’s lives.
Pope’s father Gene made a deal with the devil when he was cut out of the family business, and it did not take him long to make his mark. Gene may have been blinded by his desire to believe his mother’s and brothers’ familial feelings outweighed their animosity and greed, but it did not slow him down in creating his own empire as his father had done.
The story of Generoso and Gene Pope is the story of America, dark and turbulent and full of hope and possibility. It is the story of the rise of America and Faustian deals, but it is also the story of its awkward teenage years and coming into its own in the early adult years. Generoso and Gene Pope are as much a part of American and New York’s history as the skyscrapers rising from the solid granite of Manhattan Island and as complex as the times in which they lived. The Deeds of My Father is a revelation written by a man who knows where all the skeletons are buried and reveals them with solid reportage.
Reviewer: J. M. Cornwell