Reviews of Godfather, the (1969)
Review by grendel (2006-01-30)
I came across this book after reading Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi and finding my affinity to the Mafia lifestyle. A friend of mine recommended the book, at this point I had not seen the film, and I immediatly jumped at the chance to read it. Being a fan of Nicolo Machiavelli's The Prince and using it as a guide in my everyday life made this book so much more relevant to me as well.
The Godfather is more fact then most people know and more connected to The Prince as well. Micheal Corleone brought the five families together under one rule through violence which is somewhat like the path Carlo Gambino (boss of the Gambino Crime Family) lead, uniting the five families as one through marriage and violence. Hyman Roth, a Jewish mobster in the book, is a mirror image of Meyer Lansky, the only Jew to sit in on but never be a member of The Commision. In the film Roth states, "We are bigger then U.S. steel," A remark made by Lansky during his reign.
The characters that I loved most of all had to have been Al Neery, Micheals bodyguard. His story was so raw and real. I did not however enjoy the story of Lucca Brassi, which may have been more of a scandal to Puzo then it was to me. Albiet an atrocity but maybe not enough of one to raise the fear Brassi did among his peers.
This is a must read for anyone who loves good literature. Most will be able to enjoy it more if they have seen the film, particularly the Godfather Saga, the TV version of the film which unites both The Godfather 1 & 2 and splices in the deleted scenes you can find on the bonus dvd which makes the film as close to the book as you can get.
If you find the cross references fascinating I suggest checking out Mafia Dynasty: The Rise and Fall of the Gambino Crime Family by John H. Davis.
Review by goad3w (2006-01-27)
This is one of the few stories that is more recognizable in movie form than in its original written work. Puzo creates a deep world of betrayal, depravity, and moral ambivalence that is so intriguing, you can't put the book down.
This book follows the Corleone family, the most powerful mafia family in New York after World War 2 and takes them from the heights of power, to the depths of brokenness and then watches them rise again. In the midst of this, there are many characters to shuffle and many side story lines. What makes this book so readable (and believable) are the immense and in depth back stories that Puzo provides for his characters and the Mafia at large.
I found myself rooting for the bad guys (because everyone in the story is one) and comparing my moral compass to the ones used by the Don and Michael. It is a good execise in determining your values and if nothing else, it is a great read.
The only negative about this book is that there are a few storylines the Puzo develops that are purposeless and do nothing to further the story. Nevertheless, worth it.