Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight” as Want to Read:
The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight

3.65  ·  Rating Details ·  351 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
It was a big bestseller when it was originally published in 1969. It became a major motion picture that provided Robert DeNiro with his first film role. Its title has entered into the language as a catch phrase. And it's terrific fun!

The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight is the story of Papa Baccala, a Brooklyn Mafia boss, and Kid Sally Palumbo, a would-be capo who "couldn
Paperback, 256 pages
Published September 1st 1997 by Back Bay Books (first published 1969)
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 The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Mar 18, 2013 Charly rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone.
I picked this up at a Library sale because I remember my father reading it and laughing out loud back when i was in college.

It is humorous, and a marvelous spoof on the "Mafia" novels that were in vogue at the time. I did not find myself laughing out loud but I certainly was chuckling to myself.

A fun read.
Jun 02, 2009 Stop added it
Shelves: interviewees
Read the STOP SMILING interview with Jimmy Breslin



(This interview originally appeared in the 2nd annual STOP SMILING 20 Interviews Issue)

As luxury condos tower over the once-downtrodden Bowery and a billionaire tech mogul reigns over a robust tourist mecca (and toast of the Republican National Convention), the days of the government telling New York City to drop dead are but a footnote to this new, untested era of scorched-earth gen
Feb 17, 2008 Forrest rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: friends into crime novels
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I read this book when it first came out in paperback. A fun, well written comic novel about an inept group of wanna be mafiaosi by a very talented Newspaper writer who knows New York and gangsters deep within the very marrow of his being. These guys are the opposite of the tough guys at the heart of The Godfather saga and rightly so because we can't live in a world where crooks are super smart, super organized and always fatal shots. Breslin tells a tale as true as that of Mario Puzo...and just ...more
L.  (I've Hit The 600 Mark)
The 1970 saga of two-bit hoods committing the worst crime of all: being dull as dishwater. Kid Sally Palumbo and his gang try (repeatedly) and fail (repeatedly) to take over a rival two-bit hood's hood. A secondary storyline follows Kid Sally's could've-been-interesting-but-ultimately-wasn't sister, Angela, and her inexplicable attraction to a mooch from the Old World. There's also racism, sexism, and animal abuse for those who get their jollies from that.
Feb 04, 2008 Justin rated it liked it
I've read this book at least 7 times.. not sure why (maybe I just like the cover). Mafioso meets the three stooges via Boho-artist styling, set in Brooklyn in the early 80's. With bike racing and lions. funny and comfortable, like that really ugly cardigan you've had for years and wear every winter.
Jan 19, 2011 Barb rated it really liked it
This book made me laugh out loud, many times. It puts a whole different perspective on criminals than other books and stories. It repeatedly demonstrates that some people who lead a life of crime are not particularly talented in their vocation. Very funny. I've re-read it in February 2011 and enjoyed it again.
Tyler Jones
Aug 04, 2015 Tyler Jones rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime, the-fun-stuff
This book is, to me, like the Mel Brooks movie Blazing Saddles. I have neither seen that movie nor read this book in many years, but I remember both being extremely funny and about 25% too long.
Vikas Datta
Dec 01, 2014 Vikas Datta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An uproarious send-up of the mobster genre and pure bedlam at various points as the rivals try to come to grips, albeit with a little bittersweet ending about the fate of a somewhat honourable man....
James Tracy
Aug 29, 2008 James Tracy rated it it was amazing
Breslin is one of the true all-time heavy weight champions of prose. His fiction reads with the grit and intensity of his journalism. His journalism is an act of tough love for the English language, the human race, and the city he gave everything to.
Mar 14, 2012 Howard rated it really liked it
Recommended to Howard by: Darwyn Stickle
Ditto my comments on Catch 22 - and to add that after the Pastor discovered me reading this on a church sponsored weekend event, it resulted in my suitability for membership being discussed . . . Ahh, such things create memorable moments!
Apr 28, 2015 Ryan rated it really liked it
A fun read filled with laughs. Nothing to heavy or serious but worth a look if you enjoy the gangster genre.
Bryson McCheeseburger
May 01, 2012 Bryson McCheeseburger rated it did not like it
Just couldn't get into it. Characters I really couldn't care about and the story was just so all over the place that every time I picked it up I had to remind myself what had happened before.
jerry christopher
Aug 31, 2012 jerry christopher rated it it was amazing
This is next on my list, I read this book back in the day and i remember laughing out loud on the bus at a lot of spots. Hopefully the Older (and drug free) self will have the same response.
Chris Brimmer
Feb 07, 2014 Chris Brimmer rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A really fun romp written in a breezy easy style. This is what paperback summer trash reading should be.
May 10, 2012 Keith rated it liked it
It wasn't as funny as I remembered it when I read it back in high school. There are some superior phrase turns, and overall it is a funny (if uneven) story.
May 20, 2011 Jonathan rated it liked it
Fun light read. Less overtly silly than Dave Barry; less concerned with tying every thread together in the same place.
Feb 21, 2010 columbialion added it
Recommends it for: Any New Yorker
Master columnist Breslin offers another semi fictitious insight into the insane lifestyles of NYC Mafiosi
Bob Mask
Mar 03, 2011 Bob Mask rated it really liked it
Dated but funny.
Patrick Justo
Dec 16, 2012 Patrick Justo rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012
A very bitterly funny book.
Sagheer Afzal
Aug 13, 2015 Sagheer Afzal rated it did not like it
Some funny moments. But very uneven. Rambling and incoherent most of the time.
Vicki Klemm
Jun 04, 2013 Vicki Klemm rated it liked it
Wacky mafia wiseguys...or not.
Michael Cienkus
Dec 12, 2008 Michael Cienkus rated it it was amazing
One of the funniest books I have ever read.
Oct 06, 2012 Jason rated it really liked it
Classic. Love this book.
Nov 25, 2014 KennyO rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
It's a kick to read even if you have no idea who Jimmy Breslin is.
Sander Ruitenbeek
Feb 11, 2017 Sander Ruitenbeek rated it liked it
This book did not age well. There are too many "silly" names (that become irritating over time) and the book becomes predictable.
Jun 01, 2014 Philip rated it really liked it
Shelves: humor, novel
A very humorous story about an inept gang (if I remember it correctly). Read it a long time ago and it's hard to remember many details. (Date reads is an approximation).
John rated it it was amazing
Feb 13, 2014
Jason Speros
Jason Speros rated it really liked it
Aug 11, 2010
K. rated it liked it
Feb 12, 2012
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Louise in Love
  • You Gotta Play Hurt
  • I Am Not Jackson Pollock: Stories
  • Halfway To Hollywood: Diaries 1980 to 1988 (Palin Diaries, #2)
  • Yellow Back Radio Broke-Down
  • This Is Cuba: An Outlaw Culture Survives
  • What Ho, Automata (Reeves & Worcester Steampunk Mysteries Book, #1-3)
  • The Industry of Souls
  • Hue and Cry
  • Gentlemen Prefer Blondes & But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes
  • One Hundred Dollar Misunderstanding
  • Blood of Innocents: The True Story of Multiple Murder in West Memphis, Arkansas
  • Tribute to Freud: Writing on the Wall and Advent (New Directions Paperbook)
  • Something to Be Desired
  • Glitz
  • The Bill McKibben Reader: Pieces from an Active Life
  • A Century of Spies: Intelligence in the Twentieth Century
  • No Pockets in a Shroud
Jimmy Breslin is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American columnist and author. He has written numerous novels, and pieces of his have appeared regularly in various newspapers in his hometown of New York City. He was a regular columnist for the newspaper Newsday until his retirement on November 2, 2004, and still has occasional columns there.

Among his notable columns, perhaps the best known was published
More about Jimmy Breslin...

Share This Book