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4.13  ·  Rating Details ·  9,279 Ratings  ·  405 Reviews
"Wiseguy" is Nicholas Pileggi's remarkable bestseller, the most intimate account ever printed of life inside the deadly high-stakes world of what some people call the Mafia. "Wiseguy" is Henry Hill's story, in fascinating, brutal detail, the never-before-revealed day-to-day life of a working mobster - his violence, his wild spending sprees, his wife, his mistresses, his co ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 320 pages
Published September 1st 1990 by Pocket (first published 1985)
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In Cold Blood by Truman CapoteHelter Skelter by Vincent BugliosiThe Devil in the White City by Erik LarsonThe Stranger Beside Me by Ann RuleTrue Hollywood Noir by Dina Di Mambro
Best True Crime
17th out of 670 books — 1,064 voters
The Godfather by Mario PuzoThe Sicilian by Mario PuzoGangster by Lorenzo CarcaterraDonnie Brasco by Joseph D. PistoneWiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi
Best Mafia Books
5th out of 140 books — 259 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jun 28, 2011 Harold rated it it was amazing
I first read this when it came out in the mid 80s. I was 70 or 80 pages into it when Henry Hill first mentioned his niteclub on Queens Boulevard,The Suite. At that point I realized I had worked in Henry's club as a musician in the early 1970s. I remembered Henry (never knew his last name)standing at the end of the bar most nights watching the action and hanging out with his friends. Of course at that point the book grabbed my total interest and I finished it in a few hours. It's arguably the gre ...more
Dec 20, 2010 Rob rated it it was amazing
Funny like I'm a clown?
C.C. Cole
Apr 28, 2012 C.C. Cole rated it it was amazing
“Wiseguy” tells the story of the life of career criminal Henry Hill, well known in the film “Goodfellas,” which is based upon this book. As with many books that go to films, the inner details add depth to Hill’s story and give the reader a better feel for the disturbing and violent life he lead. With the romanticism of film removed, the facts are told mostly from Henry and his wife at the time, Karen. What I liked most about “Wiseguy” is the true events, rather than the detailed idealistic ficti ...more
Aug 25, 2011 Casey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think this could have been a very jarring book had I not seen the movie Goodfellas so many times I practically have it memorized. As with the Godfather book/film, Goodfellas is an extremely faithful representation of Wiseguy.

As many people have pointed out previously, what sets this book apart is the outright bluntness in the delivery. It wastes no time trying to water the cold, hard facts down or romanticize the lifestyle of a mafioso. We're talking about people who would murder their best fr
Kristin Shafel Omiccioli
A deeper look into the story of Henry Hill and his life and involvement with the New York City Mafia from the 1950s-90s. The beginning of the book is nearly exactly like its film version (Goodfellas, a classic in my opinion), but if you keep going the story takes new turns not shown in the film, with additional schemes and characters. I enjoyed the different perspectives, with narratives from the writer, Karen (Henry's wife), FBI detectives, and mostly Henry himself. If you have an interest in l ...more
Nov 12, 2008 Jim rated it liked it
Based on evidence given while going into the witness protection program, this is a gritty view of what it is actually like to be a 'Wise Guy' or Mafia thug. I was amazed & repelled by the book. Unlike the Godfather which made a hero out of such men & touted a loyalty & honor throughout the ranks, this book shows the actual setup. How self-interest rules their lives & how little empathy they have.

I didn't like the book or the subject, but it was well written & worth reading.
Sami Choudhury
Jul 04, 2016 Sami Choudhury rated it it was amazing
I waited for this book for a long time. Watched my favorite movie "Goodfellas" based on this book several times. So when I got the hard copy of the book, I could not resist myself finishing it at once. It is As good as the movie. But if someone watches the movie, the book is waste of time in my opinion. The movie is a total honest representation of the book. But my case is different. I love to read about Mafia. :)

The book is based on the real life story of a mobster Henry Hill. He used to be a m
May 24, 2013 T.scott rated it it was amazing
By: Tj Scott
The book “Wiseguy” is about Henry Hill a member of the Lucchese crime family.The book itself tells a different perspective of the “Mob”. Its seen through the eyes of Nicholas Pileggi the author but told to by Hill himself . It displays an interesting outlook,Mob movies books characters have fascinated the world for so long and its the belief that their is another world more exhilarating and exciting fast paced and the common person is just looking to escape the real world i
Saman Kashi

در صورت تمایل، جهت مشخصات فیلمی که بر اساس این کتاب ساخته شده است؛ میتوانید از لینک زیر استفاده بفرمایید
Daiv Shorten
Jun 14, 2012 Daiv Shorten rated it it was amazing
If you can't get enough of Goodfellas, this book is a perfect way to get all of the details. The most surprising aspect of the book is just how true-to-life Scorsese was in his direction of the movie. I suppose that might have something to do with his collaboration with author Nicholas Pileggi, who he worked with again on Casino. This attention to detail allows the reader to visualize and recall the scenes of Goodfellas as Pileggi provides embellishments to enrich the story for the reader. Norma ...more
Oct 14, 2012 Chad rated it it was amazing
Hands down, this is the best book ever written about the mafia. Like Pileggi says in the first few pages, Henry gives one of the most rare views from the inside, because he watched everything and participated in the lifestyle with a sense of detachment, probably because he knew that while he could never be an "official" member, the more he paid attention, the more he could endear himself to the higher-ups of the mafia family he was associated with.

Like most people who read this book, I saw the m
May 26, 2011 Andrew rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, 2011
This is the story of Henry Hill, a close associate of Paul Vario, a capo in the Lucchese crime family in New York City. It impresses not in the criminal achievements of Hill, but rather in the breadth of knowledge which Hill provides of the mafia way of life - what is entailed in living the life of a wiseguy.

Comparisons with the film of the same name are inevitable but I tried to avoid this common pitfall. the film is slick, star studded, well acted and with innovative and highly effective camer
Henry the rat fink
a real coked up piece of work
just watch the movie.
Jul 03, 2014 Tim rated it really liked it
Great read. I, like many, read this after seeing GoodFellas dozens upon dozens of times. I'll start by saying I like the film better, but that's not to downplay how good this book is. Reading it makes me appreciate the film even more.

Part of what I love about the film is that it has that "no way this could be made up" vibe to it. Little touches throughout made it all so believable. This is because the film soaked up countless minute details from the book (which is actually pretty lean at only 2
Jan 03, 2013 Heikki rated it it was amazing
This is the sort of book that makes reading true crime interesting. What I mean is this: while reading about gruesome murders is sometimes chillingly good, and one reads such books just for the shock value, sometimes a book comes along that gives you the big picture. This is such a book.

Henry Hill fell in love with the Mafia way of life as a kid, and he stuck to it until the bitter end - or rather, until he had two choices. Either join the Federal Witness Protection Program, or face the music wi
Peter Bucaccio
May 02, 2012 Peter Bucaccio rated it it was amazing
Response 1
If I had the option, I would be friends with Henry Hill in a heartbeat. He is a young, kind, and easygoing person. Although he is surrounded by violence, he never seemed to give into the peer pressure of his friends. When people around him were thinking of how to whack their friend, Henry was thinking of how to talk them out of it. He seemed to be a genuinely good guy.
Henry was always generous, giving out money like candy, and treated those who gave him respect, with respect. Among It
May 26, 2012 Bob rated it liked it
This book documents the mobster Henry Hill's story, and was the inspiration for the move Goodfellas. The writing style is very journalistic, and most of the book consists of direct quotes from Henry, with some from his wife Karen. It was interesting to compare and contrast the movie with the book. The book uses real names, (Jimmy Conway in the movie is the really James Burke, etc.), and is entirely Henry's story without being fictionalized. The movie compresses some events, and Tommy DeVito (Joe ...more
Apr 28, 2016 Neri. rated it really liked it
This book blew me away with its realism. Every story here was told by the people who were actually participating in those events. The whole book was written in very interesting manner and it was a joy to read such a nicely written book. Everyone who saw 'Goodfellas' and enjoyed it - should read this book and anyone who is into mafia and crime should also check this book out.
Oct 17, 2009 Cwn_annwn_13 rated it really liked it
Henry Hill was a criminal, snitch, con artist, drug addict and betrayer of people that were more or less family to him so you have to take a lot of what he says in this book with a grain of salt. If you have seen the movie Goodfellas then this is the book that film was based on. The only difference I noticed between the two was the book goes into how they were running a points shaving/gambling scam with Boston College basketball players. As untrustworthy as Hill is the book itself is a fascinati ...more
This book was amazing. Until recently I never knew there was a book version of "Goodfellas". I always loved the movie, so when I found out there was a book I had to read it.
The book is way better than the movie. So much more detail and you really find out what happens. Nicholas Pileggi did a marvelous job in writing the book. I loved the style he chose to write it in: with descriptions and then first person accounts by Henry, his wife Karen and one time girlfriend, Linda.
A truly wonderful book a
Aug 31, 2015 Mandyhello rated it really liked it
Pretty similar to Goodfellas basically, there are just a few scenes missing. And Tommy is in it way less. The audio was abridged too, so I'm not sure how much I missed. Good gangster story if you like that sort of thing..
Ed Scarpo
Dec 12, 2015 Ed Scarpo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is it, the classic that set the benchmark for all mob memoirs to follow. The film version of the book, Goodfellas, was so good, some speculate it killed an entire genre until a guy named David Chase came along.

Still the book raises questions. Did Spider really exist? It seems not.

And who really killed Tommy DeSimone? There's interesting theories about that one.

I wrote a recent story that analyses Goodfellas...
Apr 27, 2015 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, mystery
"One of the largest heists in American history occurred in December of 1978 at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York when an informant, Louis Werner, tipped off Martin Krugman, a bookmaker and member of the Lucchese crime organization to whom Werner owed a large sum, that millions of dollars in cash and jewels were due to arrive on a Lufthansa flight and would be stored over a weekend in a particular vault on the grounds of JFK. Jimmy Burke’s mob, a sub-organization of Lucchese’s, to ...more
Sep 13, 2014 Stephen rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime, memoir
How does a boy from a nice family grow up to be a gangster? Well, it helps to live across the street from a mob-owned cab stand that needs fleet-footed boys to run errands. Growing up in poverty, young Henry Hill couldn’t help but envy the lifestyles of the men who frequented the cab stand across the way, rolling by in luxury cars, dressed in tailored suits, and handing out wads of cash like peppermint candy. Determined to wield the power they did, at the age of twelve he became a gofer – and on ...more
May 08, 2014 David rated it liked it
It's difficult to regard this book as a separate entity from the film Goodfellas, so for the purposes of this review, I won't even bother, I'll directly compare the two. The setting, styling, and dialogue of the film is obviously lifted right from the book. It's a freewheeling, fast-paced ride through the kind of existence that most of us would only recognise through the cartoon-ish sylised violence of mobster films. The films don't feel real, and neither does this book. The concept of unreliabl ...more
May 20, 2015 Kay rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
it was OK.
Steffan Haskins
Jun 18, 2014 Steffan Haskins rated it it was ok
Way Overrated! I truly thought this book would live up to the reviews but obviously whoever has read this and rated it the best mafia book of all time, has not read The Godfather. This was a halfway entertaining novel that was more of an autobiography. The only reason I continued reading was because the reviews were so I'd I thought the book would redeem itself, though it never did. You want a good mafia book, read some Mario Puzo.
Jul 22, 2016 Alex rated it really liked it
This is a great read, although does come over very blunt and straightforward. This is terrific source material for the eventual film by Scorcese - Goodfellas, which is based on the book.

That film is in my Top 5 movies of all-time. It is tremendous. It is such an achievement in storytelling matched with perfect acting, directing, editing, cinematography etc that sadly made the book feel like a bit of a let down compared to the movie. There is no "funny, what like a clown?" scene or the strong fee
Michael Pronko
Dec 18, 2015 Michael Pronko rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's hard to rank this, as it's chilling, riveting and true, as the cover announces, but it's also about the prose level of a local city paper, for the most part. More attention to the prose would have worked wonders. It cuts in and out of voices, too, more like a magazine piece strung together than a complete work. That said, the honesty of the story, whether completely true or not, makes it irresistible. The film, of course, is actually better as art, and it's easy to see how Martin Scorsese w ...more
Brenden Sutton
Jan 04, 2015 Brenden Sutton rated it it was amazing
I absolutely love mob stories especially ones that are true about gangsters I've heard of and this book is a notorious example of a scumbag and what he's done. I picked his up for 3 dollars at a garbage sale with 2 other books and I read this in a span of only 2 days reading along with the audiobook. I am a procrastinator so that's a big deal for me to read a book in a day or two days time. me and my friend both read this along with the audiobook together and then we compared it to goodfellas a ...more
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Nicholas Pileggi is best known for writing the book Wiseguy, which he adapted into the movie Goodfellas, and for writing the book and screenplay Casino. The movie versions of both were co-written and directed by Martin Scorsese. Pileggi also wrote the screenplay for the 1996 film City Hall. He began his career as a journalist and had a profound interest in the Mafia. This is where he developed his ...more
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“By birth, certainly, they were not prepared in any way to achieve their desires. They were not the smartest kids in the neighborhood. They were not born the richest. They weren’t even the toughest. In fact, they lacked almost all the necessary talents that might have helped them satisfy the appetites of their dreams, except one—their talent for violence.” 1 likes
“Henry was never able to help McDonald crack Lufthansa—the” 0 likes
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