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

Donnie Brasco: My undercover life in the Mafia

3.98 of 5 stars 3.98  ·  rating details  ·  3,607 ratings  ·  125 reviews
The author, Joseph D. Pistone, spent six years of his life as an undercover FBI agent working ostensibly for the mafia. He was able to testify against his mafia bosses and indict 200 of them. This is his incredible story.
Paperback, 413 pages
Published 2006 by Hodder (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

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
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
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
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.

"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
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
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
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.
John Allen
Pistone is obviously an adrenaline junkie, and probably a wee bit differently constituted from you and I.
His desire to "be the best" at what he did certainly made him into a good FBI agent, spending 8 years undercover in the Bonanno crime family.

He was taken under the wing of Lefty Ruggiero, an aging mobster who was pretty vigorous. Saving Pistone's life more than a couple of times because of suspicions that he was law enforcement, the photo of Ruggiero after the realization that his friend was
This book is about an FBI agent who infiltrates the mafia for 6 years (yes, you read that right), and it was intriguing. First of all, kudos to Agent Pistone who was willing to risk his life for this assignment. He barely saw his family during this time, and was at the beck and call of his partner, Lefty. And AMAZINGLY, he didn't commit any crimes during those 6 years! To read about how he walked and talked the part of a wiseguy is really fascinating. (Yes, they made it into a movie in the 90's. ...more
Zachary Stewart
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.
Sean Davison
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Great book and the movie is faithful to the book as well. I recommend reading the book first. The movie is excellent though.
Gavin Masterson
Great book! After reading the book after viewing the movie so much, I have to say I feel the movie is a false depiction compared to the book as Joe Pistone aka Donnie Brasco, really had more of a relationship with Sonny Black than with Lefty as Pistone reveals in the book that Lefty was more of a bully and Sonny was more of a close ally. They really should remake the movie as I feel after reading the book they really didn't do it justice even though I still think the movie is very good, it's not ...more
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
Justin Hebert
Great read for people who like true crime and real-life accounts of the Mafia, but not terribly accessible. Conversations often read like transcriptions, there's a real lack of narrative structure, and a lot of unnecessary details that often bog down the prose. Again, if you really like Mafia stuff, you'll probably enjoy it in spite of these shortfalls, but if you're looking for a more coherent, focused narrative, look somewhere else.
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
I read this book because I have something of a fascination with the mafia and, more specifically, with American law enforcement's efforts to break it up. The story of Joe Pistone, the FBI agent who went undercover as Donnie Brasco, is as good a tale of any on that front. The book itself was imperfect: it reads as though Pistone is talking into a tape recorder, so the writing isn't exactly elegant, and his story, particularly in the beginning, has the feel of law enforcement, this happened, then ...more
Book about how an undercover FBI agent infiltrated the mob, later made into a movie. Interesting to say the least, the story could write itself because Pistone is not himself a very good writer. It’s basically a very good recollection of the change of events of his time in the mob, including some mob subtleties which I hadn’t realized. It should be a good recollection because he’s got the conversations on tape, and some are included in the audio book though I didn’t really like that part. In any ...more
I found Donnie Brasco to be an excellent story, very entertaining and enlightening. I must admit that toward the end, he seemed to get a bit pedantic about some of the conversations, etc - but I generally found the style enjoyable. It is easy to see what Mike Newell saw in the material when he decided to make the movie. Brasco is an engaging character and Pistone's story is intense, gritty and real.
Wilde Sky
This book details the true story of an FBI agent who went undercover in the Mafia.

I found this book really fascinating, but in some places it was difficult to follow what was going on and it felt repetitive.
Tim Hand
Initially engrossing but grew a bit monotonous. The mafia speak, especially of Lefty Guns, was fascinating at first but ultimately mind numbing.
It is interesting just how firmly embedded wise guys were in some NYC neighborhoods that are currently heavily gentrified and cleansed of that element.

Pistone's work, while related in a very dry fashion, was truly artful; develop trusting relationships with basically untrusting figures while staying, mostly, within a legal framework, ultimately used to
Stacey Barber
Although I do enjoy crime drama as well as first hand accounts on true stories, this book irritated the hell out of me. Maybe it was the fact that it was a story told by an arrogant, self riotous snake who bestowed sheer betrayal and obviously laughed with pride during the storytelling...It just wasn't for me. Yeah, I consider the undercovers as the "bad guy".
Tom Cahill
A real page turner

I've heard the name so many times; nice to finally put the story to the name. Kept me fully engrossed.
One of the best books I've read in a while. Can't wait to read his next book that will reveal some more secrets. Great read couldn't put it down
Mar 27, 2015 Nicole marked it as gave-up-on  ·  review of another edition
Just could not get into this one. The extremely outdated slang did not help. Yeah, I know it's authentic to the time in which the real events took place, but I have trouble taking someone seriously when they say, "We went out bopping." That's 70s slang for clubbing, FYI.
Steven Scaffardi
The term ‘blew me away’ is perhaps used far too often when it comes to book reviews, but I can safely say that this is one book that left me truly astonished and open-mouthed with every page turn. Special FBI Agent Jospeh. D Pistone spent five years working undercover as a mafia associate in the Bonnano New York crime family. A film was made in 1997 based on his life starring Johnny Depp and Al Pacino, but like most films based on books, you only get half the story on the big screen.

To read the
Harut Musaderyan
I picked this book because I have plenty of interests in the mafia, and I learn about them. This book is about a undercover FBI agent that infiltrates the Mob. My favorite quote in the book is when the black male criminal turned to Joseph and said "you got to be eye-talian" I like this quote because it is very hilarious, when I first read it I was laughing for a while. I really liked the authors writing style because it was 1st point of view and it tells the story of how he witnessed it and it ...more
Jul 19, 2007 Tom rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: goodfellas
A cracking read - wiseguys, semi-wiseguys, bums and cops all fight for Donnie Brasco's attention as he goes deep undercover to infiltrate the Mafia. he touches on the strains this put on his own family, but there is great detail in the growing sense of family as he is welcomed closer into the body of the Cosa Nostra. Throughout, he battles against the police bureaucracy that limits what he can do, get funds, take part in, report on - but he triumphs in the end, and is rewarded with life under Wi ...more
As a fan of gangster movies, I found this book amazing. If you want an insight into the world of the Mafia, read this book. Beware though, it will shatter many illusions people have from watching too many movies, it definitely did for me! This book reveals that Mafia members are largely a group of thieves who are only interested in making money, ripping each other off and killing people with wild abandon. I simply could not believe that an undercover operative would sacrifice six years of his li ...more
david kippes

Wasn't, as exciting as I thought it would be. It was a little more like a text book. Iprobaly would,t spend the money on this again
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 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
  • Mafia Dynasty: The Rise and Fall of the Gambino Crime Family
  • The Westies: Inside New York's Irish Mob
  • Gotti
  • Double Cross: The Explosive, Inside Story of the Mobster Who Controlled America
  • For the Sins of My Father: A Mafia Killer, His Son, and the Legacy of a Mob Life
  • Murder Machine
  • BLOW: How a Small-Town Boy Made $100 Million with the Medellin Cocaine Cartel And Lost It All
  • Mr. Capone
  • Boss of Bosses: The FBI and Paul Castellano
  • The Outfit: The Role of Chicago's Underworld in the Shaping of Modern America
  • Cosa Nostra: A History of the Sicilian Mafia
  • Capone: The Life and World of Al Capone
  • The Last Testament of Lucky Luciano
  • The Ice Man: Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer
  • The Misbegotten Son
Deep Cover: A Donnie Brasco Novel Way of the Wiseguy: Secrets to Success in the Mob, Everyday Life, and Business Mobbed Up: A Donnie Brasco Novel Snake Eyes:: A Donnie Brasco Novel DONNIE BRASCO: DEEP COVER

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »