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Authors: Mario Puzo

Godfather, The

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The son of Italian immigrants who moved to the Hell’s Kitchen area of New York City, MARIO PUZO was born on October 15, 1920. After World War II, during which he served as a U.S. Army corporal, he attended City College of New York on the G.I. Bill and worked as a freelance writer. During this period he wrote his first two novels,
The Dark Arena
(1955) and
The Fortunate Pilgrim
When his books made little money despite being critically acclaimed, he vowed to write a bestseller.
The Godfather
(1969) was an enormous success. He collaborated with director Francis Ford Coppola on the screenplays for all three
movies and won Academy Awards for both
The Godfather
(1972) and
The Godfather, Part II
(1974). He also collaborated on the scripts for such films as
Superman II
(1981), and
The Cotton Club
He continued to write phenomenally successful novels, including
Fools Die
The Sicilian
The Fourth K
(1991), and
The Last Don
Mario Puzo died on July 2, 1999. His final novel,
, was published in 2000.
ROBERTJ. THOMPSON is the founding director of the Center for Study of Popular Television at Syracuse University, where he is also the Trustee Professor of Media and Popular Culture at the S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. A past president of the national Popular Culture Association, he lectures across the country on the subjects of television and popular culture.
Hundreds of radio and TV programs and publications have featured Professor Thompson’s commentary, and Thompson is the author or editor of five books:
Television’s Second Golden Age
(Continuum, 1996),
Prime Time, Prime Movers
(Little, Brown, 1992),
Adventures on Prime Time
(Praeger, 1990),
Making Television
(Praeger, 1990), and
Television Studies
(Praeger, 1989). He is currently working on a history of television.
PETER BART has been editor in chief of
since 1989.
He spent ten years as a staff reporter for
The Wall Street Journal
The New York Times
before entering the motion picture industry. He joined Paramount Pictures in 1967. There he played a key role in developing and supervising such influential films as
The Godfather
Paper Moon
Harold and Maude
True Grit
, and
Rosemary’s Baby
. In 1977 he became president of Lorimar Films, where he fostered
Being There
The Postman Always Rings Twice
. He has also published five books.
Who Killed Hollywood?
is his most recent title.
Bart was educated at Swarthmore College and the London School of Economics. He resides in Los Angeles with his wife, Leslie Bart.
New American Library
Published by New American Library, a division of
Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto,
Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
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New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)
Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa
Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
First New American Library Printing, March 2002
First New American Library Essential Editions Printing, October 2005
Copyright © Mario Puzo, 1969
Introduction copyright © Robert J. Thompson, 2002
Afterword copyright © Peter Bart, 2002
All rights reserved.
NEW AMERICAN LIBRARY and logo are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
eISBN: 9781101226704
The Library of Congress has cataloged the original New American Library
trade paperback edition of this title as follows:
Puzo, Mario, 1920-99
The Godfather / by Mario Puzo; with an introduction by Robert J. Thompson; an afterword
by Peter Bart.
p. cm.
eISBN : 978-1-101-04311-0
1. Corleone family (Fictitious characters)—Fiction. 2. Italian Americans—Fiction.
3. Organized crime—Fiction. 4. New York (NY)—Fiction. 5. Criminals—Fiction.
6. Mafia—Fiction. I. Title.
PS3566.U9 G6 2002
13’.54—dc21 2001056214
Set in Fairfield Light
Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.
The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

by Robert J. Thompson
AT THE END of the 1960s, the Western was still the dominant American epic. The myth of the birth of a nation, settlers plowing from sea to shining sea behind the engine of manifest destiny, had captured our national imagination for a century. From the opening of the frontier after the Civil War, through the brief but golden age of the cowboy, to the Wild West shows of Buffalo Bill, the myth of the West was being created as it was being lived. Then, just as the frontier was closing, Hollywood was repackaging the age of Western expansion for consumption by citizens of a new century.
The Great Train Robbery
, one of the first movie narratives, was a Western. If the Greeks had the
and the
if the Romans had the
if the Jews had the Hebrew scriptures, the United States had Wyatt Earp and John Wayne.
All of that has changed. The Western has been replaced by the mob story as the central epic of America. By exchanging the geographical frontier for the urban frontier and by embodying themes of the great immigrant narratives, the mobster, it might be argued, has taken the place of the Western hero in the American heart.
The Sopranos
currently reigns as one of the most critically acclaimed television series in the history of the medium, and a handful of mob movies remain among the most celebrated films in all of American cinema. It took a product of enormous cultural power to effect this change. In this case it was a novel which, in its resonance and influence, rivals other popular novels, such as
Uncle Tom’s Cabin
Gone With the Wind
. The provenance of the new American myth can be traced to the publication of
The Godfather
The story you are holding was first published in 1969, which was, as you may know, a very interesting year. U.S. bombing raids in Vietnam reached their highest level yet, but the war was going poorly. Doubts about the moral legitimacy of that war were exacerbated by late-year reports that 450 villagers had been massacred in 1968 by an American infantry unit in My Lai, but Vice President Spiro Agnew was calling protesters of the war an “effete corps of impudent snobs.” The Woodstock Festival celebrated peace and love, while at Altamont Raceway the Rolling Stones concert ended in murder and mayhem. A police raid of New York City’s Stonewall Bar launched a new era of gay rights activism; U.S. senator Edward Kennedy fled the scene of a fatal car accident; and two men set foot on the moon. In short,
The Godfather
arrived in American bookstores during an exciting cultural revolution and in the middle of a big, fat national mess.
BOOK: Godfather, The
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