38 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on November 11, 2006
As a longtime Godfather fan, I looked forward to Mark Winegardner's first sequel novel, "The Godfather Returns", since its announcement in 2002 to its publication in 2004. I read it in one sitting the first day it came out and loved it.
My feeling from news and reviews though, was that the general public and publishing industry viewed it as something of a disappointment (see the majority of its amazon reviews)
I never understood why that was the case. In "Returns", Mr Winegardner had done an excellent job of expanding the story and filling in the missing years of the Corleone Saga, which is exactly what he had been hired to do!
Because of this, I never thought another sequel would be written and was presently surprised when I read of this book's existence on the actual day of its release. (I keep up with upcoming major book publications and I hadn't read ANY articles about this book!)
That being said, "The Godfather's Revenge" is even better than "Returns". What I loved about it was that, like "Returns", it manages to both stay true to the spirit of AND expand upon the original novel, right down to its structure (A series of "books" make up this novel like the first two) Also, like the first two, it tells an expanded back story of one of the main characters (Vito Corleone in the original, Michael Corleone in Returns, Tom Hagen in this one)
This one is also better than the first sequel because its story centers on a really awesome plot point, one that true Godfather fans have always loved to speculate on but the films never addressed. That is - What involvement did the Corleones have in the assasination of JFK? (Here represented by a fictionalized version- "JAMES SHEA") I won't give it away, but students of history will clearly see the historical parallels in this fictionalized story just like in the original Godfather works.
What Mr. Winegardner also does exceptionally well is in expanding the roles of women into the saga, which reflects its now early 1960's setting. Theresa Hagen, Connie Corleone, and a new character introduced in "Returns", Sonny's daughter Francesca, are all integral to the story and are presented as vividly and three dimensionally as the men.
Also, if you read closely you will see that Mr. Winegardner slyly slips some subtle modern parallels into the framework of the novel. In my opinion, some of the descriptions of Michael's arch enemy Nick Geraci are clearly designed to remind the reader of Osama Bin Laden. In fact, one paragraph can even be seen as a stinging commentary on the life, career and presidency of George W Bush!
Overall, a must for Godfather fans. After reading this, I am looking forward to the next sequel, which should cover the end of this novel (1964) to the beginning of Godfather part 3 (1979) I can not wait to see where Mr. Winegardner will take the story next.
My title suggestion for the next sequel?
"THE GODFATHER'S LEGACY".
15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
...you are interested in a well-written page-turner that -- like Winegardner's previous book, The Godfather Returns -- is driven mainly by its excellent character development. If, however, your interest is in a book that is filled with suspense and action, The Godfather's Revenge may not be for you. Winegardner not only strongly succeeds in taking the Corleone Family into the early '60s, he provides a very rich and well-developed characterization of two people that had a strong influence on the Corleone Family and its actions over the years -- Nick Geraci and Tom Hagen. Be aware that the focus of The Godfather's Revenge is on these characters; Michael Corleone, while always a powerful force in this series, is more of a secondary character. Most of the other characters from the past book are back in "Revenge" and Winegardner very effectively expands our understanding of them -- and particularly the female characters. Beyond the book's strength in the above areas, it -- in a somewhat quiet but powerful way -- weaves a fictionalized tale of some of the important historical events occurring in the time period in which this book takes place and of the Mafia's, and the Corleone's, role in influencing them (e.g., the presidential assassination, the Attorney General's (the president's brother's) "war" with the Mafia, the Bay of Pigs incident, etc.). Overall, The Godfather's Revenge is a book I'd highly recommend to those interested in the Godfather series and who enjoyed Winegardner's last book, as well as to anyone interested in a well-written book that succeeds on many levels. Once again, please be aware that The Godfather's Revenge is not the fastest "read" out there, but it is a highly satisfying book. I hope this review is helpful to you in deciding on whether or not to read The Godfather's Revenge.
9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on June 8, 2007
This second sequel to 'The Godfather' includes improbable characters and story lines that diminish the Corleone legend and the memorable characters created by Puzo.
For some reason, Winegardner once again focuses on Nick Geraci, the turncoat Corleone family capo who was forced into hiding in his first sequel. In this book, Geraci is meant to be almost a mythic figure like the Count of Monte Cristo, a wronged man on an epic quest for vengeance. The problem with this story line is that Geraci is not a very sympathetic figure. He's a cold-blooded killer and drug dealer kicked out of the family for conspiring against his boss, not an innocent young man torn from his loved ones by false charges. It's hard to root for his revenge plot when we know that, far from being unjustly accused, he's guilty of even worse things than the Corleones realize. Geraci is not the sort of person you'd ever want to know, and at a very early point in this novel I found myself hoping he would just disappear -- permanently.
The other major story lines involve a plot to kill the Irish Catholic president in order to end the influence of his brother, who is pressuring the mob, and a plot by Michael to seize control of the Woltz movie studio, for reasons never made fully clear. Neither is terribly interesting or original.
Major Puzo characters like Michael, Hagen and Connie are made to seem smaller than life by vignettes that focus on their personal foibles -- it's a bit like reading a biography of Beethoven that is mostly about his untidy personal habits and spends little time on his musical achievements.
The story Puzo told so brilliantly was about organized crime families that began because a few strong-willed men refused to be relegated to membership in an underclass, that grew powerful by serving and exploiting the members of that underclass, and that ultimately waned when that underclass assimilated into the mainstream of American life. Winegardner doesn't seem very interested in that story.
If you're trapped in an airport with nothing else to read, you might want to try this book. Otherwise, don't.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 31, 2014
I originally started reading this book before I read The Godfather Returns. I got lost pretty quickly and went and got the first book which gave context to what was happening in this book. What follows is a spoiler I guess so if you are going to buy it, stop reading. I have a big gripe because there is no real look into Michael's thought process or his reactions to Tom's death. Sure, he ultimately springs a trap on Geraci but some insight to Michael's though process would have been appreciated. It would have made a nice counterpoint to Tom's death scene which I thought was pretty well done. Personally, I would like to see another book or two covering Michael's life through the rest of the 60s and 70s until the time of the third movie. Oh, and there's a pretty nice shot at the 3rd GF movie in here as well.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 8, 2007
This is a good book. Remember, Puzo is unfortunately not with us any more and did not give us any more Godfather books when he had the chance. Also, there will always be feelings or beliefs that Puzo would never do certain things that Winegardner did--but who really knows what Puzo would have done, all we know is what Puzo gave us. I give credit to Winegardner for having the courage to do some things he did in this book. All I know is that I was entertained and enjoyed the book. I think Winegardner did a better job than almost anyone else would have, and I know there's no way I could ever think of this stuff.
11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on November 8, 2006
When I heard there was going to be ANOTHER sequel to the Godfather, I was every bit as skeptical as I'd been when I heard about the first one, GODFATHER RETURNS, even though I that book (once I read it!) was a complete & pleasant surprise. For whatever reason, I still expected to be disappointed by this one. Rest assured--GODFATHER'S REVENGE is at least as good as Puzo's original, and even better than the first sequel. And the storyline is full of surprises--I don't want to be a spoiler, but there are so many good twists, self-contained in this story, that it almost doesn't matter if you've read the previous books.
This is a very satisfying novel; what's going on beneath the surface makes this almost a literary novel--it's a page-turner, but at the same time a book I'll definitely go back and read again. Bravo.
I know fiction is supposed to be essentially entertaining lies, but perhaps the biggest lie in many novels actually comes on the copyright page. I'm referring to the standard disclaimer that "any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental." Sure, there may legal reasons for such a statement, but it is often a lie, as is demonstrated in Mark Windegardner's The Godfather's Revenge, the sequel to The Godfather Returns, which is itself a follow-up to Mario Puzo's The Godfather.
For those familiar with the Godfather stories (and if you aren't, you should really not be reading this book without reading its predecessors first), this is the saga of the Corleone family, the dominant Mafia family in New York. The original book featured Vito Corleone, the patriarch of the family, but its real protagonist was Michael Corleone, Vito's reluctant heir. By the time of The Godfather Returns, Michael is firmly ensconced in his position, and he is still powerful at the beginning of the next book (which takes place in 1963 and 1964), albeit with some real threats to him and his family.
In particular, there is Nick Geraci, something of a doppelganger for Michael, who barely survived the events of Winegardner's previous book. Now, Nick has come out of hiding and has a plan to dethrone Michael. Meanwhile, New Orleans boss Carlo Tramonti, angered at his temporary deportation by the INS, is out to get the President who he blames for the arrest; he also has it in for Michael, who had backed the election of the current president.
Michael has problems closer to home as well. Tom Hagen, his step-brother and closest adviser, is accused of murder. Michael also has to deal with personal issues: complications from diabetes, an estrangement from his children and his guilt over ordering the killing of his own brother, Fredo.
Among the characters in the book are plenty who are meant to represent real life figures, despite whatever disclaimers are given. President Jimmy Shea and his crusading Attorney General brother Daniel are obviously John Kennedy and his brother Robert. Johnny Fontane bears more than a passing resemblance to Frank Sinatra, and there is even a brief appearance of a Mario Puzo clone called Sergio Lupo.
With his previous book, Gardener was technically proficient, but also overly ambitious; the result was a book that tried to do to much. To a lesser extent, The Godfather's Revenge has the same issues: it dances all over the place, with the lack of a true central character. Michael comes closest, but even he is not in much of the book (though his presence is always felt). Overall, however, Gardener has improved over his previous novel, so if you were satisfied with his earlier effort, you should enjoy this book as well.
8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on December 7, 2006
First of all, let's give the proper praise to Mark Winegardner for even attempting a project such as THE GODFATHER'S REVENGE and its predecessor, THE GODFATHER RETURNS. It is easy to forget that there initially was but one novel, THE GODFATHER by Mario Puzo, which begat the film adaptation of the same name, as well as two sequels that dealt with events occurring several years subsequent to the book and to each other. The result is a pair of chronological gaps that Winegardner has tried mightily to fill, with varying degrees of success.
THE GODFATHER'S REVENGE takes place in the early 1960s, at a point roughly midway between the events chronicled in the films Godfather, Part II and the under-appreciated Godfather, Part III. The Michael Corleone we meet here is a deeply unhappy and disturbed man. He is haunted by strange visions of Fredo, his simple, lovable brother who he had assassinated for a minor betrayal. Also disturbing Corleone is a living ghost --- Nick Geraci, a formerly loyal Corleone soldier who Corleone ordered sacrificed in a power play. Geraci escaped and, from an improbable hiding place, plots revenge and a power grab. Soon any setback occurring to a Corleone-connected business is attributed to Geraci, even as he seems to have a guardian angel protecting --- and watching --- his every move.
Perhaps the greatest threat to Corleone's empire, however, comes from the federal government. President James Shea, a charismatic Irishman who Corleone backed in his quest for office, seemingly has turned against Corleone; indeed, Shea's brother Danny, appointed Attorney General by the President in a brazen and reckless exercise of nepotism, has begun a very public and effective crusade against organized crime. Winegardner draws heavily upon the historical cauldron of the early 1960s while using that period as a thinly disguised backdrop for the events that both influenced and were influenced by organized crime in the times and places in which the book is set.
THE GODFATHER'S REVENGE, like THE GODFATHER RETURNS, will not make everyone happy; that is a given in a project of such magnitude. There are indeed flaws here: the narrative is choppy (considering the wealth of characters and situations here, how could it be avoided?) and at times Winegardner seems to narratively back and fill, as if he has suddenly remembered a point that needed to be mentioned or clarified.
Readers wholly unfamiliar with the Godfather mythos might experience some rough sledding during certain parts of the book. But those of us whose familiarity has become a minor obsession will enjoy this Herculean attempt to fill in the blanks that have preceded it and make THE GODFATHER'S REVENGE the necessity that it is.
--- Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 14, 2013
Although its a bit rough around the edges compared to the Puzo novels its still a great story and an enjoyable read. I wish they'd make this into a movie as opposed to the crap they passed of as the Godfather III movie.
on July 25, 2014
I bought this book thinking that it was written by Mario Puzo, author of The Godfather. No matter; I was pleased with Winegardner's style and treatment of the same characters. Interestingly enough, the contents of this sequel played similar tricks with American history of the 1960s in which it is set. The Kennedys (John and Bobby) become the Sheas, and the details of the eventual assassination are altered. By means of this fictional sleight of hand, Winegardner is able to portray the likely truthful underside of that history, beginning with the failed black-op known as the Bay of Pigs invasion.
In this author's hands (as with Don DeLillo's even more historically faithful Libra, and the Oliver Stone film JFK) it becomes obvious how the agendas and the machinery of the Mafia and the secret government (CIA and FBI) overlap. What is truth and what is fiction? At its best, fiction gives us the clearest glimpse of what is true.
We read at first thinking it is fiction; we come to understand the underlying truth of how things work in the world (in the underworld); and then we can continue reading the fiction with new appreciation. History, meanwhile, which we at first take to be truth, upon closer examination we find is fiction.