Donnie Brasco: My Undercover Life in the Mafia
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Donnie Brasco: My Undercover Life in the Mafia

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  2,735 ratings  ·  107 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
Hardcover, 373 pages
Published January 29th 1988 by New American Library (first published 1987)
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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.
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
Joe Stamber
I read this some years after seeing the excellent movie adaptation of Pistone's tale. The book is a fascinating insight into JDP's undercover life and how he became so immersed that the boundaries blurred. It's not very often that a bio keeps me rivetted, but this one did. An excellent book and an excellent movie.
Great book and the movie is faithful to the book as well. I recommend reading the book first. The movie is excellent though.
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...more
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
Jul 20, 2014 Rajit rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: True Crime/Mafia Story Fans
Im glad I got to read this book. I thought it was boring in the beginning but I stuck with it and what do I know.. it just blew me away. Joseph Pistone a.k.a Donnie Brasco is a brave and smart man to be able to infiltrate as deeply as he did in the mafia without getting caught or killed. Pistone definitely had a great balance and he knew how to tread his way in and get his job done. However, I kinda felt bad for Lefty. I think Lefty did a lot to protect and keep Donnie under his wing. I believe...more
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
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...more
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...more
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
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.
Mar 18, 2010 Michaela rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
This book had my nerves dangling on a thread. I kept wondering what was going to happen next. It is absolutely fantastic and I think everyone should read it.
This was an interesting book. I read this during my mafia phase. If you like crimes, gangs, and murders then, this book is right up your alley.
Like the movie? You have to read the book. It was scarier and deeper than the movie. Way cool book. A must read for true crime readers.
Alshia Delores Moyez
I don't remember if I left a review for this already. Or not. It's one of my favs EVER! I love this Johnny Depp cover! 5 stars, dammit!
Fascinating look into both what it's like to be longterm undercover and what it's like to be in the Mafia, engagingly written.
Jan 28, 2008 Bryan rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all
6 years undercover. The movie was good but does not give half the story that the book does. How he wasn't killed is beyond me.
Christopher Pink
Not as good as Wiseguy, but still pretty good. It's nice to hear from the other side of the fence about the mob.
Leonard Jordan
One of the best true crime books. Loved this book from start to finish. It's a book that will have you wanting more
I find true crime fascinating. This story is one I enjoy. What else do I need to say?
Michael Clayton
Great book. While reading it, I looked forward to having time to sit down with it.
Super interesting - much more detail than the movie. I couldn't put it down!
one cool a** book, dude, and it's true? whoa... that dude had balls of steal.
Andy Wright
A really good and well written book. Very exciting and a great read.
Way better than the movie!!! I highly recommend it!
Cheryl Schibley
A cop goes undercover in the mob. Very exciting story.
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