Sunday, July 09, 2006

The Godfather

It is hard to describe in a few hundred words, a book of the stature of The Godfather. Mario Puzo creates magic and transports us to the Cosa Nostra - the dark underworld of the Mafia. So much so that I would say that the English speaking world is divided into two categories - those who have read The Godfather and those who haven’t!

The Godfather is a splendid and distinguished blood saga of the American Mafia. It reveals how the Sicilian Rule of Silence or Omerta influences every level of the American society. Men are silenced, cars are blown up, treachery is planned - and all with such cold brutality that one finds it hard to believe there is a human mind behind the entire villainy.

The book deals with the life of Vito Corleone who is driven from Sicily by the Mafia there when he was only twelve years old. Life teaches him tough lessons along the way and he learns all of them. By his sheer cunning and bravado he creates the biggest and most powerful criminal syndicate in America. He is a cold blooded tactician who will stop at nothing to make ends meet. He follows his own rules and trashes the laws of the society which ignored him.

But things take a turn for the worst when he is shot at by some of his rivals. A bloody gang war ensues in which he even loses his eldest son. His youngest offspring - Michael - is an army veteran who has got nothing to do with the family business. But as a result of the assassination attempt, Vito’s empire weakens and in order to save his father’s life Michael is forced to commit two murders. The clash of values within Michael, who wanted to lead a normal life, is amazing and deserves special praise.

The brilliance with which Puzo mixes crime with emotions to produce a heady concoction is remarkable and in my opinion is the life line of this book. One at times is forced to agree with Vito’s deeds. His trademark dialogue - "I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse.” is subtle devilry.

The Godfather is a story of life and all that comes with it. Pain and love are two sides of the same coin in this book. It is a fabric woven from the strands of love, emotion, crime, devilry and innocence. One could go on writing about it but then the pleasure of the first read would be lost. Try out the book. I am sure you won’t be disappointed.

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