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The Godfather - Mario Puzo

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      25.05.2014 08:21

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      • "Superbly written"
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      A superbly written novel with a unique feel

      Having a number of years ago seen the trilogy of Godfather films I decided I needed to read the original book by Mario Puzo to see how it compared and I am pleased to say it is an amazing book in itself with no need to have comparisons done between film adaptations and the book of the same name as they are different art forms and so will always have differences in how they present things.

      The book is set around the Mafia in New York and is almost best described as being a look at the power struggles that happen in this organisation and how important family is to them. The main focus of all of this though is as we see the Corleone family and the level of power that one man can have come to an end and the changing of the guard as it were as a new generation of the family come to the fore.

      The book is absolutely superbly written with simple language making it something which is a simple read but thanks to the style of the writing the story has a great flow which enables you to be drawn in. The fact this is based on the Mafia should not put people off as it for me did not consume everything with gun battles and the like and instead manages to have a great balance to things about the Mafia workings and the family Corleone.

      This is a great book and it is easy to see how it became a major film series in the end. I have purchased this book a few times now as it is one I have read more than once which is not something I can say for too many books out there. I love it and highly recommend giving it a try whether you''ve seen the films or not.

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      28.05.2009 11:29

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      Well worth the read

      This is a fantastic book and one of the very few books tat I have read more than once. for those that do not know the plot of the Godfather from either the book or the film, it is set around the mafia in New York and really concerns the changeover of power from one generation to another within a family.

      This book is incredibly thick and the reason for this is that it tells all sorts of side tales. This may annoy some people who prefer a more concise book with a more to the point plot however I think most people will agree that this is one of the things that makes this book so good. It means that you feel really immersed in the lives of the people Puzo describes and feel very immersed in the whole world of crime and shadiness that he creates.

      This has all sorts of stuff in that means you wouldn't want someone too young to read it, but besides this I would strongly recommend that anyone who is partial to tales of crime gets hold of a copy of this and gives it a read regardless of whether they have seen the film/s.

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      24.01.2009 11:12

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      A must read - a classic of literature

      What a book! Whilst the film is often given rave reviews, the book is usually shunned to a side, with people unaware of Puzo's genius. The literary verve shown in the writing, with an ending so unexpected, characters so vivid and just the right amount of gore, make it in my opinion, a book that ought to be made a set text in schools around the country.

      Set in post prohibition America, the story follows the life of Don Corleone, and his family. Whilst initially the books may seem fragmented, the manner in which Puzo sews them together, and creates mirrors within the story is simply a delight to read.

      Whilst not as much of a literary work piece as say Cicero's chiasmus filled speeches, Puzo knits couples an amazing plot with an unassuming literary style, which whilst not as vivacious as the early Romantic writers, is just as effective.

      Whilst probably not suitable for the youngest of readers, "The Godfather" held me in rapt attention as a teen, and whilst I have seen the film, and can understand the high praise attributed to it, I stand by the opinion that the book is better than the film!

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      30.09.2008 22:13

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      A magnificent, enthralling read.

      Mario Puzo's The Godfather was lovingly brought to the screen by Francis Ford Coppola but devotees of the movies would do well to read the novel which started it all. For starters it's beautifully written, and is obviously a labour of love. Secondly, it allows you to gain a much deeper insight into the characters than the movie, brilliant though it is, will allow.

      The story begins as the film does, with a humble baker prostrating himself before the seemingly all powerful Don Vito Corleone and begging for vengeance to be enacted against criminals who have assaulted his daughter. The book introduces the characters individually and Puzo, never one for subtle exposition, takes a lot of time carefully describing each of them, how they look, how they think, and how they regard one another.

      The book does veer wildly off at parts - Puzo unaccountably decides to devote about ten pages to, and I swear I'm not making this up, the labial reconstruction surgery of a minor character - but he does succeed in telling a grand and powerful story simply and evocatively. Reading Puzo's Godfather gave me a greater appreciation for the characters and the movie. Highly recommended.

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      26.07.2008 15:52

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      One of the best books about the Cosa Nostra ever

      I don't really rate Mario Puzo as an author - in fact I would go as far as to say he has only ever really written two good books. This just happens to be one of them... and is probably his most famous. It spawned one of the biggest Gangster movies in the history of the big screen, as well as two sequels, and serves as a root for all of the Mafia films (Goodfellas) and television shows (The Sopranos) after it. It tells the tale of the Corleone family and it's patriarch - Don Vito Corleone, and the business he runs. And his family. His relationship with his daughter and his sons - all of whom have vastly different personalities. The one son who really doesn't want to have anything to do with the family business and returns to America a war hero, soon finds himself inadvertantly embroiled in the family business, to the detriment of the life he had decided to make for himself. A story that shows that blood is thicker than water and sometimes it has to be spilled, The Godfather works on so many levels - and is one of the few books where someone has been able to make a half decent film out of the source material.

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      01.03.2002 00:27
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      Traditionally it was the Hollywood movie that would attract me to a novel. I would first reconcile with the film and then if I sought further enlightenment, might go on to read the novel. But with The Godfather this was different and it became apparent that the representation that is a film is just how one person interpreted the book. In this sense the novel looses its authenticity, this however is a great complement to The Godfather Trilogy. This is a film that has revolutionised what I look for in the films I watch. Mario Puzo's the Godfather however takes the film to a higher level. Being the original text, you the reader are free to explore the wonderful world of gangsters and deceit that Mario Puzo has created and invoked. Based on a part of American history and culture The Godfather already was guaranteed to make a powerful impact. The plot sees the rise to power of Don Vito Corleone when he first embarked in America as a young Italian. Although the trilogy is not chronologically released, the essence of this is still respected. The Corleone family become the largest and most well respected mafia family in America, but with power comes jealousy and envy. We see the death of Don Vito Corleone and the arisen of his oldest son Michael. Air to the thrown of the hard working Godfather, Michael and the rest of the Corleone family rule the underworld of the United Sates but not without the eyes of others constantly watching them. Titled The Godfather, one may be inevitably alarmed to find out that the novel is not structured around Don Vito Corleone but rather the legacy that he left in the form on his son Michael. Don Vito Corleone loved and respected his son but Michael was never involved in the family business. He was not a main character in the formation of his father's empire but was at the helm at his death to continue as Don Vito's prodigy. Michael in fact is contrary to the tradition Sicilian; and or Corl
      eone gangster. He is ready to get married controversially to a WASP schoolteacher and is also interested in pursuing a career in the profession of law. The brilliance of Mario Puzo is the fashion in which he brings us into the minds of a mafia member. We don't console or emphasize with them but Mario Puzo helps us come to the realisation of the complex mind of a gangster. To do this Mario Puzo uses the character of Michael. The analysis and close investigation of his mind and conscious gives the reader a realistic impression of a man torn between the legal society, the American Dream and the fulfilment of his duties to his family. The spark that arouses Michael's change in character is the attempt on his father's life from a rival mafia organisation. Immediately, Michael is absorbed into the web of lies and intimidation. Bound with the mantra, "Never take sides against the family." The sub characters in the novel just further add to the realism of Mario Puzo's world. Characters such as the crooked cop, the strong headed Hollywood producer denying Johnny Fontane a part in his film make you realise that the Corleone family had it all. They were rich and powerful. But as the story envelopes, the introduction of Lucas Brazi (best known for his "he swims with the fishes now" phrase) and Sonny Corleone along with rival mafia families tells us that Mario Puzo is saying, yes there is wealth, respect and women but the cost is always hidden. The most powerful thing I found about this novel was that; and I know a lot of other gangster texts have reiterated this but it was shocking to observe how a man that you had trusted all your life could be the very man to send you to your deathbed. This is what The Godfather is all about, the matrix of deceit and lies that was in thrilled in both mafia families. The Godfather's sees Mario Puzo enthralling the reader into this very world. When r
      eading the book you find yourself siding with the Corleone family against conflicts with rival mafia constitutions. It may be the fact that through the start of the novel, Puzo introduces us to the family, the grief-ridden mothers and the trusting loyal sons. How can we fail to love the Corleone's even when the word illegal is as common as pasta? Its great to see that Mario Puzo doesn't patronise the reader to much by bombarding them with gore but instead takes a more intellectual look at the dealings of the mafia and how there minds operate. For instance we see the complex character of Don Vito Corleone; he inflicts moral values on his children, "Take advice, but stay true to your own counsel" He refuses to involve his family in the dealings of Cocaine and illicit drugs, but as we conclude that Don Vito is soft, refined an untrue to the Italian gangster image he comes out with the phrase, "If our friends knew we were dealing in drugs, they would no longer want our business" Proving that everything revolves around money and the wealth of the Corleone not the fast that liquor and gambling are "Victimless Crimes". The Godfather is a captivating book that had me clothed by the mystique of gangster life. Who hasn't been fascinated by those that live in the fast lane, they spend huge sums of money and don't know if they'll wake up tomorrow. Imagine yourself in this world, driven by money and the retributions that embark upon you as a consequence. Would you, afraid for your life, take sides against the family? Not Wise.

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        22.10.2001 20:05
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        Mario Puzo's The Godfather - who in this world has not heard of this magnificent book? It has it all, in my opinion, feeling, action, romance, a deep horrific undertone (if you like that sort of thing) and strong family values - of a sort. The Plot: --------- You've probably all seen the film so know the outline to this book but here goes: the family, headed by The Don - Vito Corleone, enter into a "war" with the 5 families of New York. This war is started over the proposal by Virgil Solozzo to the Corleones to enter into the Heroine business together, when he is refused he attacks and nearly kills the Don and the 5 families back Solozzo. What follows is a that a tremendous battleground develops in the streets of New York, each side fighting each other with ways both fair and foul. Solozzo is killed by the "civilian" of the family, Michael (played by Al Pachino in the film) who then has to emigrate to Sicily to escape vengence. This does not take up as much of a huge role in the film as it does in the book, about half of the book is dedicated to Mike's time in Sicily and the problems he encounters there while staying in a villa of the local Don's, a favour set up by Tom Hagen, adopted son of the Godfather and family lawyer. The young Mikey is being preened to succeed the Don as head of the Corleone family and this time abroad is a little bit of preparation, Vito didn't want Mike involved but saw the necessity of his actions leading to his excile. The Power of Don Vito Corleone is displayed throughout the book, he has a lot of influence in the city and the nation as a whole, with his "family" organised into 2 batallians he can fight off any enemy, his police contacts and "friends" in congress and the judicial system make him immune from prossecution and he grants favours where he can. Michael describes the Don as being like an Arctic explorer, leaving caches
        throughout the land for him to pick up when he needs them, these are the favours he grants, thjey will be picked up when he needs them and the recipients had better pay on demand! The whole family are likeable, they all have a soft spot for their father (he's got 3 sons and a daughter) and will always follow his word. Their lives are colourful and exciting, never wanting for anything. The Characters: --------------- Vito Corleone (The Godfather) : He escaped murder in Sicily when his father killed the local Don who's family called for vengence. They missed him and he fled to America. After working for a friend in his grocery store he was approached by 2 local thieves who could cut him in on a deal. He went along with the heist and made a fortune for himself and his family. After killing the local hard man he was treated as a "Man of Respect" and took over as local peoples' representative, never refusing a favour and always getting results! He made his fortune bootleging through prohibition times and by the end of the war controlled all the gambling in New York. He loves his kids and Godkids and really only wants the best for his family. Michael Corleone : The Civilian of the family, never wanted to join the family business, never interested in anything dodgy. He went away to university and trained to be a maths professor, when WW2 cam,e along he signed up for the marines and went away to fight. On his return the family is at war so he kills the agressor and flees to Sicily, marries and settles down until he gets into trouble, his wife is killed in an explosion which was ment for Mikey and he returns to be at his father's right-hand. Santino (Sonny) Corleone : The most brash and powerful of the Corleone kids, a married man cheating on his wife. He takes over as head of the family in the Don's absence (following Vito's shooting) and goes blood thirsty. He is killed by a plo
        t involving his Sister's husband and the Corleones' enemies, he beats her up and Sonny goes flying off to get him, stopped at the Causeway's toll boothes he is brutally killed by the assasins of the 5 families. Fredo Corleone : Weakest of the family members, he leabves New York for Vegas after witnessing his father's shooting, becomes a dandy and a ladies man with no further part in the family ways. Connie Corlione : She does not play a major part in the book, her wedding is the setting for the opening of the story and her husband leads to Sonny's demise, she's not an interesting character at all. Tom Hagen : Although Sonny grows up to be a deadly assasin and an evil man to his enemies, to Tom Hagen he is something of a God. Tom was orphaned in his early years, had an eye infection, he was taken in by Sonny and got better under the influence of the Don. He wanted to join the family business but the Don would not hear of it, he was sent away to law school and became the family lawyer and consigliori (councellor) in later years. Clementza and Tessio : The Caporegimes, heads of the 2 batallions of the Don's army. These were the 2 thieves who came to offer Vito the deal when he was first in America. Luca Brassi : The head "Button Man" of the outfit, he's only used when the Don has extreme violence to give out to someone. My favourite character by far. Overall: -------- I love this book, you pick it up and cannot put it down, there are a number of subplots involved which seem to take the story on a totally different tangent until the strands all tie in at the end. The book is gripping and exciting, only 500 pages long, you could read it in 2 days. I love the feeling that the Don is a nice guy helping his friends but the fact that his methods are morally improper. It's a great mixture, the villan is always the most appealing in fiction and the
        Don is likeable beyond belief. The book is quick, sad, exciting and really well wtritten, I'd really reccomend it to those with a liking for blood and a soft spot for a strong family unit. (Horse's Head scene is included!) Lovely.

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          05.05.2001 03:51
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          If you asked someone to name a gangster film, nine times out of ten the answer would be "The Godfather”. If you said the same about a book then you'd probably get a similar response, this book, and the film that spanned from it, were so outstandingly popular that a youth of today would still have the title fixed in their mentality with a good understanding of Mafia society. This insight into the New York Mafia made huge audiences sit down and watch the three films. Gazing intently, they learning with shocked admiration about the world that controlled great areas of American society. The book itself was just as revolutionary. The story is based around the fictional Corleone family dwelling in New York in the 1940’s, establishing and maintaining its Mafia empire in the city. You’re told of it’s historical background and rise to power as well as the rigid structure of respect that bonds the web together, with a whole new way of thinking towards life in the brotherhood. Murder is seen as purely business in the fraternity, with cold, considered thinking, being at the heart of every business deal that takes place, however many lives will soon be ended. That twisted reasoning behind the thought process and beliefs in the culture created, are so incredibly well thought out that you know they must either come from experience, or intense research. The book is written at a quite incredible pace flowing from one gruesome murder to another without blurring the necessary details in the journey. There are some (what’s the word) enlightening, sex scenes in the book and so it could be considered unsuitable for the more innocent among us. The blood is also naturally rife but the consequences of every death are dealt with, in the emotional sense along with the business implications. The easily swayed may well be influenced into a state of admiration for the Mafia, but this is no real bad thing. They seek to create a
          society of justice and control, them being the God with the power over life or death within their civilised society, they give forgiveness and punishment in a tangible sense and trust in the strength of their world. I wish I were a Don…

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            12.04.2001 02:23
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            Mario Puzo’s book is often overlooked due to the incredible success of the film adaptations. In the local Waterstones store there was money off all film related paperbacks so I managed to pick up this book for £4.99. It has been a number of years since I saw any of the Godfather movies and my memories of the story were sketchy at best, I think that this added to my enjoyment of the book as I didn’t know where the story was going a lot of the time. The book is one of the best I have ever read and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is even slightly interested in mafia/gangster stories. There are nine books within the book. Each book concentrates on different parts of the bigger picture. Quite often the story jumps from the present to anything up to 50 years in the past. The beauty of it is that the story is not overly complicated. The time frames merge very easily and any time the story jumps back it fills in details of a character’s past or how he/she became involved with the Corleones. This was a real strength of the book in my opinion. The opening book starts at the wedding of Don Corleone’s only daughter Connie. The Don has a massive amount of friends eager to repay his favours and you get the impression that he is a man of immense power and wealth. However, some of the later books go a long way to explaining how this empire was built and why The Don is treated with the utmost respect. In this sense it is a complete story. I read the book over a period of about 10 days, the amazing thing was that every time I left the book I was dying to know what was going to happen next. I never leave a book in this situation. I normally wait for the next lull in the story but there were almost no lulls in the story with even the lesser characters being incredibly well developed. The writing style is excellent and very easy to read. Mario Puzo often slips in the odd Italian word but usually
            explains the meaning and a lot of the words are words we are familiar with anyway. It is a pity that this book does not seem to be held up with the films as it is an excellent book. However, I suppose that it could be argued that without the film I and I suspect a lot of others would never have read the book. I intend to go and watch the trilogy as I think the films take the story from the book and take it forward. I am interested to see how the story continues to evolve and given the reputation of the films I am sure I will not be disappointed. It is a pity that this was Mario Puzo’s first novel as all others were compared along side it and as a result were treated less favourably. However, I intend to try and read some of his other work as I enjoyed the way he wrote.

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              09.03.2001 21:51
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              The most renowned gangster in I know of is Michael Corleone, closely followed by his father Vito. I imagine real-life master criminals aspiring to achieve the same fame, fortune and notoriety as the Corleone family, only to realise Mario Puzo does in fact write fiction! “The Godfather” is a story which spans approximately ten years (excluding the flashbacks), but in reality Puzo has created a multigenerational hero which even the legally minded can identify with. Everyone knows Michael Corleone – he, his family and their associates are the original “GoodFellas”. Whilst I realise the trilogy of films is a brilliant adaptation of Puzo’s work (and he has worked on each one personally with Francis Ford Coppola), I will only concentrate on the novel. I suspect there are probably far more cinema-goers out there than bookworms (a sad state of affairs, but true nevertheless!), and consequently there are probably far more reviews of the screen version (go find them if you wish!). Please note: seeing the film will in no way detract from the enjoyment of reading the book. The story includes aspects love and betrayal; politics, war and religion; beauty, ugliness and death! It is filled with electrifying action, and there is plenty here which readers might also find somewhat disturbing. It is a story about the criminal activities of the Corleone family and their war with other the Mafia families of New York. Puzo’s style is very easy to read and he can be compared with the likes of a number of best-selling sensationalist authors. Indeed, at base value “The Godfather” fits into this genre quite well and I suspect it could have been equally well written – although stylistically different – by Clancy, Grisham or even Archer (had he the inclination to write mafia-crime novels). However, the difference is character development and Puzo’s ability to have readers com
              pletely absorbing themselves in his story. “The Godfather” is incredibly realistic in scope, character development and storyline (despite the horrific nature of Mafioso tactics); it is easy to believe these events could have taken place, and that these people actually exist. Puzo lays it out like dust, and readers inhale it like a vacuum cleaner! And this is only possible because we empathise with Michael Corleone and his family – which, of course, is Puzo’s greatest accomplishment: because Michael is an extortionist, a blackmailer, a killer … a criminal! The Godfather’s tactics in negotiation are reprehensible at best, and when Vito or Michael say “I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse!” it is really quite chilling. It signifies the ‘offer’ involves placing a gun to the ‘addressee’s’ head and telling him either his brains or signature will be on a particular contract. Despite this and other chillingly criminal tactics, the reader learns to identify with the Corleones. Quite an unnerving and highly effective, but subtle tactic of Puzo’s – because our hero is a murderer! In identifying and sympathising with The Family, Puzo’s has his readers in a tight and exciting grip, because the epitome of ‘coolness’ (other than the slick Hannibal Lector) is Michael Corleone, the ultimate businessman. And herein lies the problem, because Puzo markets Michael as being nothing more than an extremely efficient and successful entrepreneur with mildly questionable tactics – the other New York Mafia families are Puzo’s actual hoodlums. This does not work, especially since the activities of the Godfather and his family/associates are no better (and at times are worse) than the actions of their enemies. So, whilst some of their activities are business-related, the Corleone’s are actually nothing more than thugs!
              Definitely not a thinking-persons novel, far from the realms of philosophy or thought-provoking ideologies, “The Godfather” is nevertheless a captivating read. Readers who do not enjoy sensationalist writing should avoid it, even if they do like the films; however, if you are a fan of action and crime-based stories, this should definitely be on your reading list! In its favour, is the depth of character analysis and the evolution of Michael, who is to lead The Family to their former glory. In a style which is not reminiscent of sensationalism (for example, Clancy and Grisham), Puzo gives Michael a number of character faults, and he is not the archetypical hero. This works well in seeing his character develop from a forceful, yet almost school-boyish charmer, into a leader and ruthless adversary to all who stand in his path. In addition, it is also wonderful to see how Michael’s father Vito develops; and at the outset readers are fooled into believing he is too old to re-evaluate his chosen path (like it being impossible to teach an old dog new tricks!). However, Vito evolves and realises how the choices he has made have affected his nearest-and-dearest. This may not be heart-warming, but it adds a surprise element to the novel which would probably have been half the masterpiece it is without it! The flashbacks to Vito Corleone’s life prior to reaching New York, and then in the US before becoming a ‘Don’, provide a much-needed background to the present-day story and the characteristics of the Don. In addition, the change of backdrop – Sicily – is much appreciated and is a world away from New York and Las Vegas, where the story is principally set. Characters such as Johnny Fontaine, Luca Brasi and Santino (Sonny) are also swell-developed, completing the picture admirably. I understand the former (Johnny) may have been based on Franky-Blue-Eyes-Sinatra! However, the female characte
              rs are often left in the sidelines and do not evolve as much as their hoodlum husbands, making “The Godfather” much more of a man’s read. Having said (written!) this, I reckon female readers do enjoy the novel as much as the fellas. Perhaps, the only downside with “The Godfather” is the lack of appropriate landscape description. Set primarily in Long Island in the 1940s, Puzo does not unfortunately take you there. Neither does he take you to the village of Corleone in Siccily. His descriptions are such that the scenery is incidental and apparently he has no talent in this area. However, had Puzo added comprehensive scenic narratives, the novel would probably have been far too lengthy to comfortably navigate. Even so, it remains a fascinating novel, but unfortunately for Puzo (as with several other best-selling authors) his first work has been deemed the highlight of his literary career; hence all of his subsequent work has been compared to “The Godfather” and nothing he has written has been received with similar praise. Mario Puzo has created a veritable storm and there is no doubt “The Godfather” will continue to entertain for a long time yet. I doubt you’ll turn into a gangster, or even imagine carrying out such dastardly deeds as those described in the story, but you will identify with the Corleone family, and you will want to be just as cool – just don’t let it go to your head!

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                13.02.2001 02:15

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                If you looked up Gangster in a dictionary, just below Al Capone you would find Mario Puzo's 'Godfather'. After watching the film and wanting more murder, revenge and criminal mastermind you find it from the book.The book is about 400 pages, yet so detailed that you are easily able to create the dark cigar scented atmosphere of the Godfather's office. The whole story flows much easier than the film as well as that I feel that the book ended almost romantically rather than the film which was brought to a rather premature end, because of following sequels. Unlike the film the book gives you more stories and background knowledge on characters like Santino and Luca Brasi. This is Puzo's greatest which unfortunately makes his other pieces seem second best however he has produced a great compilation of Gangster thrillers. A must for any crime enthusiast!

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                24.11.2000 02:42
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                The book that started the legacy. One man alone developed the story that was to be one of the most successful stories in cinema history. While The Godfather Part I is in my opinion by far the best part of the trilogy, the book eclipses even that. There are a countless number of reasons why. One of the greatest features of this book is the fact that, not only does it contain the excellent plot of the first movie, but it also includes the flashbacks to young Vito Corleone, which are found in The Godfather Part II. Mario Puzo develops the character of Vito much more fully in the book. Not only does he describe how Vito became "The Godfather," but also goes into the details of the earlier Mafia wars in New York City. Puzo develops many of the characters that have minor roles in the film version, such as Johnny Fontaine, who has a far larger role in the print version. The greatest feature of this masterpiece by Mario Puzo is his writing style. After only reading the book once, you will immediately know his distinct style. He effectively uses flashbacks in this book to keep the reader hooked and wanting to read more. It will be revealed that someone has died, and then it will, in the next chapter, explain exactly what happened. Never before had I seen a writer do this so effectively. Puzo does it just the right amount of times so that the reader does not become confused with the story line. This is easily one of the greatest books written in recent years, and I highly recommend anyone who is intrigued by this story to read the book.

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              • Product Details

                Set in Long Island, Hollywood and Sicily, this novel outlines the story of mafia leader Vito Corleone and his family.