We Do What We Must

Blood, Wine, and the Birth of the American Mafia in New Orleans

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
260 Pages
Reviewed on 09/03/2022
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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

We Do What We Must: Blood, Wine, and the Birth of the American Mafia in New Orleans is a work of fiction in the historical subgenre. It is suitable for the general reading audience and was penned by author Richard Robbins. The book is a fictionalized account of the Giacona family’s journey from their Sicilian homeland to New Orleans. Despite making the journey in order to escape the influence of organized crime, the crime families from their home country are busy establishing themselves in America, and the Giacona family must struggle to stay out of the line of fire without landing in the pockets of dangerous people.

This was a compelling narrative from start to finish, partly thanks to the due diligence done in researching the era and the real people on whom the story is based, and partly thanks to the excellent prose that kept the tension pitched perfectly throughout the book. Author Richard Robbins delivers an outstanding character study in Pietro and Corrado Giacona as they struggle not to break under the pressure of the various organizations seeking to control their destiny, and in particular, their development as they consider what compromises are worth making in the name of survival. The evolution of the characters as the story unfolds is exquisitely done and breathes a realistic sense of life into the protagonists. Overall, We Do What We Must is a deeply compulsive read as we watch ordinary people fight for a better life for themselves and their families whilst dealing with the devastating reality that the freedom they seek has to be gained through sacrifice. An absolute must-read for all readers.

Pikasho Deka

We Do What We Must is a historical fiction crime drama novel by Richard Robbins. Set at the dawn of the 20th century, the book follows Corrado Giacona, a Sicilian immigrant from Palermo, who arrives in New Orleans to start his life anew and help his family with the wine store business. But the Giaconas had a big problem with the Barracas -- members of the ruthless Black Hand who made a habit of extorting money from honest and hardworking Italian Americans. When a young man kidnapped by the Black Hand ends up murdered, it creates a huge uproar, only for the real culprits to roam scot-free. With their business suffering due to the Barraca brothers, Corrado must seek help from an unlikely ally, leading his life to be steered in a direction he never envisioned.

Based on real events, We Do What We Must is a must-read for fans of The Godfather or any American Mafia-related fiction. Author Richard Robbins tells a captivating tale of Corrado Giacona, who reluctantly involved himself in events that had far-reaching consequences to protect his family. The plot moves at a blistering pace, and Robbins' crisp and concise narrative wastes little time in placing the reader in the midst of the action. The characters are layered and complex, with inner conflicts and contradictions that make them thoroughly compelling to read. I particularly enjoyed the friend/enemy dynamic between Corrado and Nicolo. If you're a fan of gangster movies or crime drama stories inspired by real events, We Do What We Must is the book for you.

Tiffany Ferrell

In We Do What We Must: Blood, Wine, and the Birth of the American Mafia in New Orleans, Richard Robbins tells readers that Corrado dreamed of sailing to America to be reunited with his family. Having been left behind in Sicily as an infant, he was raised by his aunt and uncle. At fifteen, his father finally sent for him which was a relief to his current guardians as the mafia was getting out of control in their town. They wanted Corrado to have a better life. To his surprise, a school friend whose family was in the mob was heading for New Orleans as well, to start a new life after the mafia killed his father. Corrado settles into American life as he became a partner in his father's business, heading in a completely different direction from his friend Nico who was welcomed into the mafia fold, becoming a man who could get things done. When a boy in the family is kidnapped and brutally murdered by the Black Hands, who also go to businesses and take what they want, Corrado knows that something must be done. For the first time in his life, he turns to Nico and the mob for help.

I enjoyed We Do What We Must: Blood, Wine, and the Birth of the American Mafia in New Orleans. I’ve always been a fan of historical fiction and this is a perfect example. I was shocked to read that the mafia was also in New Orleans so naturally, I looked it up. The characters are well-written and easy to like. Although Corrado left Sicily to avoid the mob, he realized that America had similar problems. There’s a lot of thought and inner monologue which gives the novel its thrill. I think author Richard Robbins has done a great job in writing We Do What We Must. I can’t wait to read more of his work.