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Honor Thy Father Mass Market Paperback – April 26, 1992

31 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“An incredible job of reporting.” (Mario Puzo )

“Brilliant...Indispensable.” (Los Angeles Times )

“An invaluable document.” (New York Review of Books )

“A marvelous piece of work, showing how a good journalist can catch a man just as he is ready to reconsider his past and is anxious to find someone who will listen...A book about a vanishing way of life in America: the Mafia.” (Newsweek )

“Mr. Talese’s insight will do more to help us understand the criminal than any amount of moral recrimination.” (Times Literary Supplement (London) ) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Inside Flap

"Brilliant . . . Indispensable." Los Angeles Times

Here is the story of the rise and fall of the notorious Bonanno crime family of New York as only best-selling author Gay Talese could tell it.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Ivy Books; 1st Ballantine Books Ed edition (April 26, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804110581
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804110587
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.1 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,346,428 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By B. Johnson on March 18, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
If you expect a breezy page-turner about mob life you will be pleased in parts and disappointed in others. If you want a deeply investigative account of a mafia family, its history and personalities, this book is excellent. I'm not an enthusiast of the mob genre, so I came to this book with little else than what I've seen in the movies. It traces the rise and fall (or at least the beginning of the fall as it was published in 1971) of the traditional Sicilian mafia in America. Against this background are detailed and rich studies of the Bonanno family -- one of the original five New York City mob families. Nevertheless, it's not a Reader's Digest book. It is well researched and detailed, and the author makes frequent tangents. Gay Talese has formidable talents, so I did not mind any of these excesses. If you know what to expect from this book, it is very enjoyable.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Aco on February 16, 2007
Format: Unknown Binding
This book took a long time to finish. Actually, too long. I agree with those who found it's pace languid, and it's tone solemn. I did find it very interesting what Talese, whose work ethic and commitment to his projects is legendary, writes in the Author's Note that concludes the book, about his relationship with Bill Bonnano, and his subjects. His fondness is very apparent, as well he had incredible access to them, allowing for the intimate information he uses to tell the Bonnano story. But I feel that there is something to his relationship that prevents Honor Thy Father from being more engrossing, more urgent, more energetic. Perhaps the compromises he made to gain access proved an unobjective view. It feels that way. Because the book could have easily been 100 to 150 pages shorter. Extended paragraphs on lawyer's (verbatim) statements, over long observations about Bonnano's feelings while driving cross country, or the myriad interwoven nature of the "mafia" borne out to bewildering and at times confusing degrees.

Not to spoil it, but the ending packs as solid a wallop as only a few sections throughout do. In two pages Talese conveys the bind that Bill was in and expresses what his father Joe's recognition of his son's life means to him. It pinpoints the anxiety and mystery of the whole tale.

I did appreciate the juxtapositioning of Bonnano's family-wife and children-with his "family"-uncles, capos, consiglieri, etc.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Orrin C. Judd VINE VOICE on January 31, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
QUESTION: What motivated you to let Gay Talese have your story?
Bill Bonanno: Gay Talese was a very insistent correspondent for The New York Times at the time. The New York Times, he told me, doesn't have reporters, they have correspondents. And he just didn't give up. He was very tenacious. He hounded me for about four or five months until I said OK, you can have the story, provided that we have an understanding: that you will get it a little bit at a time whenever I can. I couldn't very well tell him that at the time I was involved in a shooting war in New York.
One of the stupider criticisms, amidst many legitimate ones, of George W. Bush in this 2000 Presidential campaign is that he is merely following in his Dad's footsteps; as if this was unusual? John McCain went to the Naval Academy--his father and grandfather were admirals. Steve Forbes runs Forbes magazine--here's a shocker for you, he wasn't the founder. Al Gore was nicknamed Prince Albert because he was so patently aping his old man's career. (Bradley is the exception here, thanks to the freak gift of athletic ability). And, your intrepid correspondent, the fifth of six consecutive Orrin Judds, attended the alma mater of three of the four, went to law school like the third and, barring a strict prohibition from my wife, would even now be attending seminary like the first and fourth. This is what men do, we follow in our fathers footsteps. In Honor Thy Father, Gay Talese offers a fascinating real-life account of what happens when the family business turns out to be the Mafia.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rocco Dormarunno on September 13, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In his engrossing "Honor Thy Father", Gay Talese proves that four decades ago, The Mafia was not what it used to be, which was basically a monopolistic almost exclusively Italian criminal empire. It is a strange nostalgia. Outside of a few loose canons (like Albert Anastasia), it was comprised of men who were dedicated to secrecy and, especially, order. The trauma that was Appalachia, and the exposures by the Kefauver Commission and Joe Valachi, permanently crippled The Mafia. It is at this point where Bill Bonanno grapples with his new-found and unasked-for position at the top of one of the major crime families of New York and the nation. When his father, Joseph, is kidnapped, the spotlight really falls on him and his family, and where Talese begins his narrative. Talese does a fascinating job juxtaposing the problems of the Bonanno family with the problems of The Bonanno Family. While Bill Bonanno tries to keep things together with lawyers, trusted "soldiers", contacts and his father's enemies, he is less successful with his ability to keep his wife and children secure and happy. The agonies and frustrations of Bill Bonanno's wife, Rosalie, is very poignant and credible. I felt sorry for her.

And, it is at this level that the book really succeeds, even now as a history. This is not your typical "Mafia/True Crime" book. Although there are a half dozen murders and bombings described in the book, there are no detailed, graphic, for-the-thrill-of-it sequences of vendetta killings and murders. The violence is surprisingly low-key, except in one or two key passages. Talese was not in for the shock value. He was describing the frustrating, dangerous and, surprisingly often, tedious (in terms of constant waiting) existence of a mob boss during those years.
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