Anthony “Tony” Costa grew up admiring his Uncle Dom—a made member of the New England mafia— so when Dom asks him to collect gambling debts from around the neighborhood, Tony is happy to help. Even after his uncle gets thrown in jail, he does his nephew a good turn from behind bars, getting him a job as a longshoreman on the Boston waterfront. The year is 1958, and Tony is only eighteen. His new job quickly teaches him what it will take to survive on the docks.

Marc Zappulla