I read Italian – American author Mario Puzo’s The Godfather within few days as it was an extremely interesting novel. I had watched the movie based on the book earlier and never expected the book to be this exciting. The book was published in 1969. It is based on a fictitious Mafia family that dominates New York City. The family is headed by Don Vito Corleone who escapes to the United States from Sicily to avoid the murderers who killed his father. The murderers were after Vito as they are feared that Vito would avenge the death of his father when he grows up.
The novel shows us the intensity of the gangster war between the Corleone family and other four of the five Mafia families that dominate New York. Don Vito Corleone is the most successful Mafia leader and he has two sons to support him but the third and the youngest, Michael Corleone opposes the idea of joining the mafia and joins the US marines instead and fights in the World War II. But when his father is shot by a rival mafia leader, he joins his father’s gang and kills the leader who shot his father and a police captain who supported him. And he flees the USA to avoid legal authorities and comes to Sicily. There he falls in love with a young large-eyed beauty and immediately marries her. Unfortunately the girl is killed when she was one month pregnant by a bomb that was set up to kill Michael. Michael returns to New York and takes over the family business as his brutal eldest brother also is killed by a rival gang.
Meanwhile, Don Corleone’s godson, Tom Hagen (who was adopted) becomes a Hollywood hero with the help of his godfather, Don Corleone. He even goes on winning an Academy Award as the best actor with the influence of his godfather. Tom has talents but his ascend to stardom is heavily manipulated by Don Corleone. When Jack Woltz, a powerful Hollywood producer refuses to give the leading role in an upcoming film to Tom Hagen, Don Corleone’s thugs kills the latter’s favourite horse and leaves its bloody head on the producer’s bed to wake up finding what type of a person he had messed up with. However, Jack Woltz is also not the most moral of men. The book mentions that he is a paedophile and he abuses a 12-year-old-girl with her mother’s willingness due to rich financial rewarding for them from the producer and Mario Puzo’ writes that the young girl “walks like a foal” after being molested.
Michael marries his American girlfriend and his desire is to legitimize all his business but with the resistance from rival families he becomes even more ruthless than his father and goes on a killing spree and eliminates almost all his rivals. He doesn’t spare his own brother-in-law who was involved in killing his eldest brother.
With the natural death of Don Corleone, Michael ascends to the throne of the Corleone family and protects its interests and become a good replacement for his father. He decides to sell all his business interests in New York and settle in gambling capital Las Vegas. He buys a hotel with casinos and operates from Vegas. In the meantime he finds his first wife’s killer and gets him killed too.
The Corleone family is a criminal organization with national influence, notably protection, gambling and union racketeering. The Don has links to legal, political, security bodies and controls every link to his family’s advantage.
The novel is full of murders, conspiracies, sex, love, and betrayal. An ardent lover becomes an angry murderer instantly. Most of the mafia leaders love their children even though they kill others mercilessly.
The novel was the inspiration for three feature films The Godfather, The Godfather II and The Godfather III. The first two films are recognized as classical movies and treated with highest respect. The third one is also not a bad movie but does not show the same effect as the first two.
I would advise you not to watch the film first if you have an idea of reading the novel. It might damage your imagination. You have to be a virgin reader of the novel to enjoy it for the fullest satisfaction.