‘The Godfather‘ by Mario Puzo was released in 1969. Today, it is 2012. And yet 43 years later, we still cannot get enough of the Corleone family. ‘The Family Corleone‘ is quite a prequel of the Godfather, crafted to perfection by one of Puzo’s heirs, Ed Falco. This book details the formation of the Corleone family and its rise to power, specifically between the fall of 1933 and summer of 1935. Mario Puzo refers to this time as, “the happy years when they killed everyone and no one killed them“, and rightly so.
Unlike in the Godfather, where Don Vito is well-established, here we see the great Don in the infancy stages of his business. The main focus of this book are Sonny- the Don’s eldest son, Tom Hagen- the Don’s adopted son, Luca Brasi- reputed as the most brutal killers and the Don himself. It is the time of the Great Depression and each family is fighting throat-to-throat to gain the upper-hand. Amidst all this, walks Luca Brasi – scared of no one and scaring everyone. Sonny is tempted to join his father’s business even though his father wants a honest future for him. This book highlights Luca’s introduction into the Corleone family and his relationship with the Don, one that is of great interest. It also showcases Sonny and Tom’s early life and their entry into the mafia. But mainly, it shows the rise of Vito from simply being a Don to becoming the Don.
This prequel paints a vivid picture of the early Corleone family, with snippets of Michael and Fredo’s characters in the background just as we would remember them as adults. Sonny’s hard headedness is depicted wonderfully, as is Luca’s sheer power and force. In this book, we get a personal view of the Don himself, a private entry into his thoughts and we get to witness the ruthless yet brilliant mind. The most interesting portion is definitely that concerning Luca Brasi as the man lives up to his reputation of being a brute. There are also bits about the Irish mafia that make for an interesting read.
Though not written by Puzo himself, this book makes a brilliant prequel to the original. It answers every question that may have cropped up while reading the Godfather and one can hardly miss Puzo here. Falco, professor of English at Virginia Tech, does an excellent job in resurrecting the Corleone family and educating us a bit more on the history of the family. This is a must read for any Godfather fan as it gives a useful insight into what really makes the family. There is also an extensive usage of Italian vocabulary that is wonderfully entertaining as it gives everything a more authentic touch. Of course, one can’t help but read the Don’s dialogues in a Marlon Brando voice, thanks to his splendid portrayal of the Don on screen.
Overall Rating: 8/10
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