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

4.2 out of 5 stars 157 customer reviews

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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 (157 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #95,228 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I decided to read this book after watching the two part series Bonanno: A Godfathers Story. I found his life so intriguing I wanted to read the book for a more detailed and informative history.

Sadly the book was a huge disappointment. To hear Bonanno tell it the original commission of the 5 families was little more than an Italian-American Heritage society and a few members "may" have been involved in some criminal activity completely unrelated to Bonanno or the Italian "traditions" they practiced.

Now certainly if Joe Kennnedy can move past his bootlegger / gangster days and rewrite history to portray himself as a "respectable citizen who entered politics" than anyone can. But even Joe Kennedy was never a member of the original organized crime family founded by Luciano.

I suppose it shouldn't surprise me that a man who spent his life carefully guarding his image and activities would produce an act of subterfuge presented as a factual biography nor should it be surprising that he used the book as a vehicle to attack his enemies such as the FBI (who to hear Bonanno tell it run around and prosecute innocent Italians over little more than assumption based upon stereotype).

If you have an interest in the history of organized crime in America you will of course want to read the book, if not for the factual account of the life of Bonanno then for the opportunity to see how his mind works. But if you have an interest in the truth, you will want to read it with the same kind of calculated mind with which it was written.
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