Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Donnie Brasco: my undercover life in the Mafia” as Want to Read:
Donnie Brasco: my undercover life in the Mafia
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Donnie Brasco: my undercover life in the Mafia

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating Details ·  5,308 Ratings  ·  176 Reviews
In 1978, the US government waged a war against organised crime. One man was left behind the lines. From 1976 until 1981, Special Agent Pistone lived undercover with the Mafia. Only able to visit his young family once every few months, Pistone - under the alias Donnie Brasco - ate, drank, partied, worked and sometimes killed with the wiseguys. He got so close that his Mafia ...more
Paperback, Film tie-in, 413 pages
Published 1997 by Coronet (first published 1987)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Donnie Brasco, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Donnie Brasco

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Chris G Derrick
Having read the first book 'Donnie Brasco:My Undercover Life In The Mafia' a few years ago I thought I'd give this follow up novel a try a short time after.
While there is absolutely no denying the bravery, determination & mental toughness of someone prepared to go through such an ordeal I personally didn't find the book the easiest to read. There was no feeling of not being able to wait until I could pick up it's pages again.
There were several instances of repetition sprinkled thoughout its
I know this book is a watershed in the history of Mob literature, and that Pistone's investigatory efforts were a breaking point for the Mob. But this book of his just leaves me dozing. I don't know what it is; maybe he's just a boring guy. Everyone blathers on about how great this book is, but I don't get it. It was made into a far worse movie, incidentally. One of the things the book does have going for it is that Pistone explains at great length what undercover agents can and can't do. Sawing ...more
Mar 12, 2010 Joel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: autobiography
One of my favorite books. It read like a movie and being a fan of Mafia history, this was informative. I often recommend this to students who are trying to get into reading, but hate reading big novels. They like the story line. The movie butchered the book.
Sep 03, 2012 Trish rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cool. Good. Un-romantic. Not psychologically insightful, by design. Pistone spent so many years undercover, separated from his family, working on taking the Mob down, and he categorically states that the experience didn't affect him emotionally. Just a job. I think that's a great example of compartmentalization, if I may be so bold to presume; and he sure had to be capable of it to get through this experience successfully. So the movie goes the other direction, obviously, as the drama is of the ...more
Vinothraj J
Bought it because I'm a huge fan of mafia stories, and what better book to read (I thought), than a real-life story.

Though the book starts off well, and there's a decent amount of info about the families, I could've done with more.
The writing isn't too gripping, and the second half of the book has too much of Lefty, which becomes a bit of a bore.
But I shall watch the movie though.
Jul 07, 2011 Heikki rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I first ran into this book when an excerpt of it was inserted in "The Mammoth Book of the Mafia". At that time I read it as just a short peek into the life of the wiseguys, but when I bought my Kindle, I downloaded a sample of it and then bought the book.

Joe Pistone, an FBI agent, didn't really aim for six years in the Mafia, far from it. He started a six-month undercover stint into the stolen trucks business, trying to get a crack into the organized racket. What happened was that his undercover
Pablo Pachalian
Jun 02, 2012 Pablo Pachalian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Many people are into reading books like Hunger Games and I'm observing a big trend in the Fantasy genre. Something that the book Donnie Brasco written by FBI Agent Joseph D. Pistone isn't. This book brings the reader into the menacing life of an FBI Undercover agent, who has to infiltrate himself in the mafia. All and everything inside the book is a true story, from his connection with Tony Mirra to Milwukee mafia vending-machines. This is the type of book that only interest readers that like c ...more
Jun 23, 2011 Landon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Joe Pistone spent 6 years as an undercover agent for the FBI, working to gather intelligence on the Mafia. Up to that point in time, the FBI had never done an undercover mission lasting more than a few weeks. Pistone's mission was scheduled to last 6 months, and ended up lasting 6 years. Joe Pistone, under the alias "Donnie Brasco" gathered enough evidence to put over a hundred members of the mafia behind bars with sentences ranging between 20 and 100 years. Several mafia members (the ones who w ...more
Kris - My Novelesque Life

"Posing as jewel thief "Donnie Brasco," FBI agent Joseph D. Pistone carried out the most audacious sting operation ever, working undercover for six years to infiltrate the flamboyant community of mafia soldiers, "connected guys," captains, and godfathers. Now his unforgettable eyewitness account brings to pulsating life the entire world of wiseguys—their code of honor and their treachery, their wives, girlfriends and whores, their lavish spending and dirty dealings." (From Amazon)

It is a
Nov 22, 2015 Bradley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plus4, crime
An amazing book in which you are constantly reminding yourself is true.

An FBI agent goes deep undercover in the mafia for 12 years putting together the evidence to try and bring the whole edifice down.

The book did get pretty complex towards the later quarter as more and more characters were introduced and more threads to the investigation were brought into play. At times I found it difficult to remember who were good guys and who were bad guys at the periphery.

A rare case in which watching the f
Jan 12, 2014 Jeremy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting book and I would still recommend it. But annoyingly, it felt like it was trying to come across as a novel rather than an in-depth account of what Joseph D. Pistone went through while undercover, also because of this is started to feel like it was going on too long. By the 300 page mark I felt myself getting bored and just wanting him to get on with it instead of telling us every conversation (Which I also question how, since he was undercover for 6 years, I fail to see how he can rec ...more
Jevron McCrory
Jan 17, 2011 Jevron McCrory rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Just amazing!

Forget the film (which is great) but that Joseph D Pistone spent SO long undercover in the New York Mafia and gained such confidences is incredible!

With every chapter, your respect for the man just grows and grows. We are talking COURAGE and then we are talking what THIS MAN did!

It's above and beyond!

It's a very important book and deserves to be read by a great number of people!
Clint Mccoy
This was a very very interesting book. I saw the movie (based on the first book) before I read this though so right away I could see how they differed...besides Pistone out and out saying how they did. In any case, Pistone really had his shit together, and based on the undercover stories I've read (in LCN and the like)... he seems to be the most hardcore of them all... nice work.
An amazing story of, at that time, unprecedented undercover work. The line that Pistone managed to walk was unbelievable and the risks were great. I grew a little tired of such a factual narrative, but he stayed true to his story.
Zachary Stewart
Aug 04, 2011 Zachary Stewart rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This isn't really my thing. The writing is quite poor and repetitive, which may be based on its real event sources. It does give some insight into how organized crime really works.
On a side note, it is amazing how much information on the current mafia exists on wikipedia.
Saman Kashi

در صورت تمایل، جهت مشخصات فیلمی که بر اساس این کتاب ساخته شده است؛ میتوانید از لینک زیر استفاده بفرمایید
Great book and the movie is faithful to the book as well. I recommend reading the book first. The movie is excellent though.
David Forsythe
This book claims that the mafia is virtually destroyed. Primarily due to RICO cases. If that's the case then this book really is an insiders account of a watershed in NYC history.
Randy Meyer
Jun 16, 2017 Randy Meyer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A truly fascinating look at what may have been the ultimate FBI undercover operation. Getting an agent on the list to be "made" was quite the coup. It overall had a realistic, almost gritty feel which I really enjoyed. At times, the staccato prose let me struggling to figure out exactly who was speaking during the elements of back & forth dialog; a minor nit though.
May 22, 2017 Pete rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Not as good as the original work on account of the strong bias and agenda the author has in play here. It has some interesting revelations none the less, my favorite being, that wiseguys don't work on Mothers's Day :)
Jun 02, 2017 Venatici rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
True story of FBI's first undercover agent to infiltrate the mafia over a period of 6 years. Rivetting.
May 19, 2017 Pete rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, movies
Interesting look at organized crime from the perspective of an FBI mole. Entertaining anecdotes throughout. Would I recommend this to other readers? Fuggeddaboutit!
Mar 08, 2014 Frank rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mafia
Donnie Brasco delivers a solid if imperfect look into the world of organized crime. The book will grip any fan of organized crime drama, whether it be Godfather, Sopranos, or true crime stories.

The story is quite a unique one. Donnie Brasco was an undercover FBI agent who attempted to infiltrate the mafia for six months and ended up undercover for six years.

It's a great story because most of the time true crime stories focus entirely on the "bad guys" side of the story and ignores the agents w
Royce Ratterman
Feb 24, 2017 Royce Ratterman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read for personal research. I found this work of immense interest, though I do not prefer the tense the work is written in (2 stars for that - 5 stars for content)
This work is one of my resource sources for ghost authoring for E.MH. Ratterman.
I found this book's contents helpful and inspiring - number rating relates to the book's contribution to my needs.
Overall, this work is also a good resource for the researcher, enthusiast and scriptwriter.
Dec 02, 2007 Belmanoir rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I could not put this book down, and I am getting his other two books, the first Donnie Brasco and The Way of the Wiseguy, as soon as possible. It's about him going undercover in the mob for six years, and it contains the SHOCKING UNCLASSIFIED DETAILS of how he participated in hijackings and warehouse robberies and beat the crap out of people. Then it describes the trials of mafia guys that Pistone (Brasco's real name) testified at, talks about other undercover gigs he did, and describes how th ...more
Sean Davison
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Steven Scaffardi
Donnie Brasco: My Undercover Life in the Mafia is one of my favourite books. The bravery and courage of FBI Special Agent Joseph D. Pistone to remain undercover within New York’s Bonnano crime family for six years was nothing short of amazing, especially when I consider that I’d probably shit myself within about six minutes if I was in the same situation.

That’s the great advantage of books; you get to imagine yourself as that character, and as Donnie Brasco I got to whack wiseguys (that’s killin
Angela Reese
Feb 11, 2015 Angela Reese rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Generally, I am not a fan of Mafia type stories, either movies or books but I was interested in how Joe Pistone was able to fool the mob guys for so long. Also, a big factor was my son urged me to read it and he is usually spot on in recommending books for me to read. The reason I shy away from these books and movies is that they so often glamorize what is being done or they portray the mob members as totally imbecilic and full of self loathing bravado always trying to prove that they are better ...more
May 26, 2016 Ed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was intrigued, because much of the action took place within a mile of where I was living in Brooklyn, NY during the 1970s. I didn't know any of the characters but I was familiar with some locales and I'm sure we had mutual acquaintances.

364.106 Autobiography - Author Pistone's account of his own experiences as an undercover FBI agent who successfully infiltrated the dangerous world of the Mafia. During a six-year period in the 1970s, Pistone adopted the persona of Donnie Brasco, a successful j
Patricia Loofbourrow
Before the FBI did undercover stings, an agent might go in for a few weeks to catch a low level criminal. But they wanted to go for the top dogs in the Mafia.

So in the 1970’s they sent an agent undercover for six months. Six years later, when they pulled the agent out, the FBI was able to take down Mafia personnel spreading across the US. This agent was Joseph Pistone, who went undercover as jewel thief Donald Brasco.

“Donnie Brasco” by Joseph D. Pistone is the best book on either the FBI or the
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Underboss: Sammy the Bull Gravano's Story of Life in the Mafia
  • Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires
  • Casino
  • Gotti
  • Mafia Dynasty: The Rise and Fall of the Gambino Crime Family
  • Double Cross: The Explosive, Inside Story of the Mobster Who Controlled America
  • The Westies: Inside New York's Irish Mob
  • Mob Star: The Story of John Gotti
  • For the Sins of My Father: A Mafia Killer, His Son, and the Legacy of a Mob Life
  • Boss of Bosses: The FBI and Paul Castellano
  • The Outfit: The Role of Chicago's Underworld in the Shaping of Modern America
  • Mr. Capone
  • Capone: The Life and World of Al Capone
  • BLOW: How a Small-Town Boy Made $100 Million with the Medellin Cocaine Cartel And Lost It All
  • Gaspipe: Confessions of a Mafia Boss
  • Operation Family Secrets: How a Mobster's Son and the FBI Brought Down Chicago's Murderous Crime Family
  • American Mafia: A History of Its Rise to Power
  • The Last Mafioso: The Treacherous World of Jimmy Frantianno

Share This Book