“More than thirty years ago, a classic was born. A searing novel of the Mafia underworld, The Godfather introduced readers to the first family of American crime fiction, the Corleones, and the powerful legacy of tradition, blood, and honor that was passed on from father to son. With its themes of the seduction of power, the pitfalls of greed, and family allegiance, it resonated with millions of readers across the world—and became the definitive novel of the virile, violent subculture that remains steeped in intrigue, in controversy, and in our collective consciousness.”
Thoughts: Until I opened up the book, I was a Corleone virgin. I have never seen any of the movies. Until this point, I had an inkling about the story line but could not tell you what happens at any point in time or why. Like most Americans over a certain age, I could recite certain lines from the movie but without understanding their true significance. I even knew of a few key scenes that occur but again without any sort of context to them. My decision to read the book versus watching the movie stems from my belief that books are always better than their visual counterparts and because I found it easier to get my hands on a copy of the book versus tracking down a copy of the movie. While The Godfather appears to be one of the few books that pales in comparison to its movie version, I am so glad I first read it. Without prior knowledge of the story, I could better appreciate the cold calculations and deception required to reign in the world of the Mafia. The juxtaposition of Don Corleone’s compassion for his family and his ruthless business sense was striking. What was even more apparent is the insidiously brilliant way in which Don Corleone built up his network of followers. The story itself is complex enough to be able to appreciate the time Mr. Puzo took to set the stage for later events. Now, when I watch the movie for the first time, I can appreciate the performances rather than worry about following the plot.
For those who are like me and are Corleone virgins, I say that it is a scenario you should remedy immediately. The story is absolutely outstanding; the complexities of the family bonds, the strength of those bonds, the power, the money, the battle for supremacy, the cold-bloodedness are realistic and awe-inspiring. Mr. Puzo makes the Mafia likable or at least sympathetic in their drive for power and their unusual opinions about laws and regulations. The Corleone family is a family like no other, and The Godfather gives readers a glimpse into their privileged and surreal world that is just breathtaking.