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A Man of Honor: The Autobiography of Joseph Bonanno Mass Market Paperback – January 20, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Born in Castellammare del Golfo, Sicily, Joseph Bonanno (1905-2002) found his future amid the whiskey-running, riotous streets of Prohibition America in 1924, when he illegally entered the United States to pursue his dreams. By the age of only twenty-six, Bonnano became a Don. He would eventually take over the New York underworld, igniting the "Castellammarese War," one of the bloodiest Family battles ever to hit New York City.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks (January 20, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312979231
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312979232
  • Product Dimensions: 4 x 0.9 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (128 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,061 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Konrei on July 6, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I've read a fair number of books on the Mothers And Fathers Italian Association including Honor Thy Father by Gay Talese, and Bound by Honor: A Mafioso's Story by Bill Bonanno, but this is the first book of its type that's actually imparted a kind of logic to Mafioso thinking.

Joseph (Peppino) Bonanno was a Godfather of the Old School, and he may actually have BEEN the Godfather that Mario Puzo based his Godfather on in The Godfather.

In these pages, the college-educated, literate and thoughtful Bonanno comes across as a man of erudition, a man who consciously CHOSE to uphold the traditions of the Sicilian Vespers, traditions of Family and Honor, Loyalty and Silence. It's ironic that he chooses to speak in these pages, but having read him, this reviewer could understand him (somewhat); at least his belief system is not so utterly alien to this reader.

Is A MAN OF HONOR candid? Yes and no. Bonanno certainly evades some subjects, particularly those that could get him indicted by the law or killed by his rivals. He'd be a fool to speak on those, and this man is no fool, and certainly not Joe Valachi, in any case. This is not a confessional book. Leaving aside his choice to stay silent on certain subject matter, Bonanno does explain things as he sees them.

Sicily has been conquered and occupied by virtually everyone else who ever had a maritime interest in the Mediterranean (that IS everyone else).
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Hunt on April 3, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mr. Bonanno provides an insider's view of organized crime - particularly the variety imported from Sicily - in the United States. It is a subject on which he is a unique authority as the longtime head of one of the country's major crime "families" and a Castellamarese Sicilian immigrant. He also enlightens readers somewhat with regard to what he perceives to be Sicilian traditions and the concept of "honor."
Of course, Mr. Bonanno does not illuminate much of his own involvement in illegal enterprises, which is certainly extensive. The reader is forced to assume that the criminal activities described in great detail are ones Mr. Bonanno oversaw himself. A great many recognizable names are mentioned, but the boss took care not to seriously offend anyone who was still alive and kicking at the time the book was published.
The book reaches back into the author's personal history from about the dawn of the 20th Century (some family history predates that) and the history of organized crime since the bootlegger wars of the Prohibition days. It advances into more modern times, though the recent information becomes sketchy.
As a first-hand account by a "don," this is a must-read for those deeply interested in the history of the American "Mafia." But it may disappoint more casual readers. And some may find objectionable the author's insistence that his criminal activity has been "honorable," his often sexist and racist views and his tendency to flatter himself (a tendency that was apparently passed on to his son, who also wrote a glowing autobiographical account of his work in the "family").
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By r.niederhauser@bluewin.ch on January 11, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Are you tired of reading books written by the FBI /or DEA? Get this autobiography written by the boss himself. Many details, many photos just great. Be careful, some information might not be correct (Joe was not stupid and wrote stuff that could have caused trouble!!!)
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Bold on April 21, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Of course, he doesn't tell about the times he had to order that someone be "whacked." But he does go deeper than any other "Mafia memoirs" such as _The Valachi Papers_ ever did.

Or did he? Towards the end, I began wondering if, in his effort to portray himself merely as a misunderstood Sicilian businessman, his book proved that Mario Puzo had done extensive research for _The Godfather_, or if Bonanno had simply used that saga to explain the Mafia's history.

Either way, it's very readable, and very entertaining.
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19 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 5, 2000
Format: Hardcover
An excellent book on what a Man of Honor is really about. The clash of old world tradition and the world of new American vaules can be readily seen here. You come to appreciate the values born in Sicily to these family men. The reasons this kind of man followed those values and the way in which he managed his American Family. This is a very refreshing change from the normal MOB/Mafia books that have been published previously. A must read for those was really want to understand of the true meaning of a Man of Honor.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. Carbone on January 30, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Ok, This book is an interesting read and you will gain some knowledge about the Mafia, its origins, the Bonanno family, etc. However, reading this book and believing everything in it would be a mistake. Bonanno loved himself and it seems the purpose of this book was to pay tribute to what he loved most (himself). It is not honest. In every account he comes out as being "honorable". However, it doesn't go into full detail about his "family" dealing drugs, on how stupid he was trying to conspire to kill other Mafia bosses "such as Gambino" and barely escaped New York with is life. If he was so smart then how did he end up like he did? Bottom line, its a great book if you want to get a sense of how dillusional and egotistical the man was and also garner some Mafia history on the side. I recommend the book, Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires for anyone that is craving more information (factual) on the beginnings of the Mafia in America.
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