With its brilliant portrayal of the Corleone family, The Godfather by Mario Puzo burned its way into our national consciousness as the definitive novel of the Mafia underworld. Don Vito Corleone is the head of a New York Mafia family, presiding over a vast underground empire that includes rackets, gambling, bookmaking and unions from his fortress of a home in Long Island.
His influence runs through all levels of American society, from the cop on the beat to the nation’s leading politicians. But he is constantly at war with the four other families of the New York Mafia in their endless fight for power. As Corleone’s desperate struggle to control the Mafia underworld unfolds, so does the story of his family.
By the time Mario Puzo’s fictional account of the Corleone family arrived on bookshelves in 1969, organized crime had been prevalent in the news for nearly two decades, instilling fear and fascination into the hearts of the American public. When The Godfather first appeared on The New York Times bestseller list, the newspaper reported that the novel was “bound to be hugely successful, and not simply because the Mafia is in the news. Mr. Puzo’s novel is a voyeur’s dream, a skillful fantasy of violent personal power without consequence.”
It remained on The New York Times bestseller list for 67 weeks, and sold over nine million copies in two years. In 1972, The Godfather was turned into the incomparable film of the same name, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture.
A tale of family and society, law and order, obedience and rebellion, The Godfather reveals the dark passions of human nature played out against a backdrop of the American dream.
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