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The Dark Arena

3.35  ·  Rating details ·  1,705 ratings  ·  65 reviews
Mario Puzo won international acclaim for The Godfather and his other Mafia novels. But before creating those masterpieces, Puzo wrote his first acclaimed novel The Dark Arena-an astounding story of a war-scarred young American in a battle against corruption and betrayal. . . .

After coming home at the end of World War II, Walter Mosca finds himself too restless for his
Paperback, 288 pages
Published May 1st 2001 by Ballantine Books (first published 1955)
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Average rating 3.35  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,705 ratings  ·  65 reviews

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Mar 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourite-books
i read this one in the darkest days of my life, when i thought too much about my life, about what i'd lost and how i could... die without hurting anyone around me. i felt touched with this story of a soldier who couldn't again get in touch with his loved ones at homeland and that made him return to Germany to find the only one, his woman, who got all his trust during darkest days of the WWII. her love helped him go on with his life until the day she passed away. nothing left and worth to him ...more
Asghar Abbas
Nov 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Watch Mario Puzo Hemingway his way around in a first novel published under his own name, after the bad start that was Six Graves to Munich. For a longest while I thought The Dark Arena was his first published book. Sometimes writers go through this, I am not naive, I just thought Puzo was a masterwordsmith from the get go. But then again, Tawni O'Dell wrote five novels she thought she Should write before getting her Back Roads (an excellent novel) published, every writer's woes, I suppose. The ...more
Aug 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Like most people, the reason I read this book is that I LOVED the Godfather. I happened to love this book too, but expecting it to be like the Godfather was a HUGE mistake.

Puzo is great I writing about crime, manipulation, betrayal, negotiations, murder, etc. But I don't think he ever really wanted to be this kind of author. Puzo never actually wanted to write an entire book about mafia. He'd written a good book with a a small part about mafia, and his publisher told him the novel would have
Mar 10, 2013 rated it did not like it
This was Mario Puzo's first novel and became a bestseller after he wrote the superb Godfather. Obviously many readers(like me)who'd read the Godfather raced to buy the The Dark Arena. It is dreadful, beyond dreadful in fact, poorly written a terrible and totally boring storyline and it is hard to believe that the author of the Godfather penned this rubbish. It is testimony though to his enormous improvement as a writer and story-teller in his later novels.
Mai Anh
May 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
The most interesting thing about this book is the author did not focus only on building the main character, he is, Mosca, like other characters, does not seem to be the spotlight of the whole story. In my opinion, this is a good book, it makes me understand more about the war, especially my DAD. A little bit haunting and darkness. All the characters seem to stuck in something in their lifes.
Jul 09, 2011 rated it did not like it
Although the the setting was intriguing, post war occupied Germany, I really did not like this book. The main character just did not have an redeeming qualities. He seemed to have no emotions or feelings, no matter who was hurt or killed. He finally seemed to have a bit of love for his German mistress but even that seemed forced at times. It is a very, dark, unforgiving book and one I would not recommend.
Amira Abdellatif
Jun 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
I expected a "Godfather" setting, but it's totally different: there is no honour here. Published in 1953, it shows Americans in Germany in the years after the War. The conquerors and the conquered living in a city of ruins. It is savage, and brutal, and there is no-one to blame. Puzo lays out the emotions and thoughts in precise, delicate detail. A real masterpiece.
Sep 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
in my opinion it's one of the best Puzo's books (after the Godfather). I enjoyed it very much! )))
Jun 20, 2008 rated it liked it
Another super sad Puzo, but something about his writing makes you read until the very end, despite the inevitable misery and emptiness you're going to feel.
Sahib Khan
May 29, 2019 rated it liked it
The Dark Arena - Mario Puzo

Goodreads Rating: 3:33
My Rating: 3:00

Summary and Plot:

Mario Puzo has a reputation for being the author of 'The Godfather'. The Godfather is not only one of the finest crime novels, but its movie has been a symbol of charisma and class since its release. The way Vito Corleone played his role, was exceptional.

The Dark Arena is the first novel of Mario Puzo. The theme of the book is dark times and a ray of light in those dark time -- that is hope. In this novel, Walter
Dolores Jefferson
Mar 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Mario Puzo is another favorite author of mine and this book is a literary gem overlooked by the many who have read, The Godfather. The book is grim and brooding in a post WWII Berlin where all except the psycopaths are trying to recover a semblance of normal life. The story involves a young veteran who returns home to New york only to leave and go back to Berlin. There he enters into a relationship with a young German woman and gets involved with the black market. This is Mr.Puzo's first novel ...more
Sigrid Delphine
At first I wasn't sure if I liked this particular novel, though I always end up liking every single one of Puzo's stories, so I ought to know better. The novel doesn't really seem to be going anywhere, lacking a point, which is actually characteristic of Puzo's style. But there's another thing natural to him, and it makes every work amazing: for he brings characters to life like no other can. The Dark Arena presents the widest spectrum of personae yet, I think; whether it's a radical communist, ...more
Sharang Limaye
Jul 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Puzo's little known 'The Dark Arena' is a forgotten gem. The commercial failure of this novel apparently pushed him to writing pulp crime stories and the rest is history. It's not difficult to imagine why this book didn't do well. Its a dark, very dark love story set in post-World War 2 Germany. The protagonist is a misanthrope. The heroine is a wimp. The love story is doomed right from the word go. The miracle is how all this comes together to make one of the most haunting tales of tragic ...more
Henri Moreaux
I found this to be rather dull and boring, it portrayed a pretty decent atmosphere of post war Germany however none of the characters were particularly likeable and the story didn't really move me in anyway what so ever. The ending was also quite bland for everything you had to sit through to get there.

I'm surprised it's written by the same person as Godfather, his writing certainly matured with time.
Jul 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
I love Mario puzo but not just because of Godfather and so on (which I love too) . He has written different styles of books and I always enjoyed them.
This one, a novel about a soldier after war, how life change you and how you react to all of that. He created a good bunch of different characters with different ways to live, think and face life. Each of them has their own internal war.
Sep 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: at-home, mafia, deutsch
This was a really dark and thought-provoking novel about a young GI's experiences in post-war Germany. I have read several books by Mario Puzo, most of them Mafia-related, none of them as grave and serious as this story.
Ainy K
Sep 11, 2019 rated it liked it
the story was good ending was just too good for words!
Aug 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Do not expect it to be the same masterpiece as "The Godfather" is. It's a good book, although the plot line sometimes seemed to be predictable.
Sep 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The sort of story that Band of Brothers never got around to telling - the raw reality of life in the ruins of Germany during post-war Europe.
May 13, 2013 rated it liked it
The was a decent read, but I am not really sure why. Nothing super interesting really happens (although there are some moments). I like Puzo but it's not as though he writing style is mesmerizing. This is definitely the least interesting of all his books. There isn't any sort of secretive plotting or manipulation or anything like what he writes so well. I found all of the characters pretty hard to relate to.

Yet somehow I enjoyed it, it in no way felt like a drag. I looked forward to picking it
Jim C
Jun 17, 2015 rated it it was ok
This book takes place after World War II in Germany. This is about an American soldier that returns home to his family and his girlfriend who has waited the whole time he was in the service. The problem is that he is a changed man and he doesn't want this scenario anymore. He returns to Germany for the woman he fell for while he was stationed there.

The author does a fantastic job with the setting and the mood for this novel. One cannot help but get a feeling of dreadfulness throughout this novel
Vishnu Nair
Jan 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
The first thing that strikes you when you read The Dark Arena is the stark contrast to the other works of Puzo like The godfather, Last Don and the likes. Puzo uses an entirely different narrative structure and you wouldn't find any of sudden twists, travelling back and forth in time, he keeps it straight here with a linear storytelling. Nor would you find lengthy side tracks. Not surprising as it is one of the earlier works of Puzo.
The story takes some time to get us engaged but halfway
Spaz tastic!!
Oct 07, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: books-reviewed
I struggled to get through this one, it became to dry of a read. This was the first book of Puzo I had read and I thought, "It's bound to be a good read since I had enjoyed the Godfather so much." It was nothing what I had anticipated. The main character became uninteresting after awhile and everything else after that, story and all, just became too dry and boring. This was one that I had put down and kept picking back up little by little just to finish it, and finally I finished. After reading ...more
Sujit Banerjee
Jun 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Somehow I thought this book of his was his best. Godfather off course remains a classic but this book had more pathos and closer to reality in terms of war and its aftermath. He draws from himself being a soldier and witnessing death at close quarters. He tells a story of a man without nation, without love and hope. He returns to America after WW2 and realizes there is nothing left for him there. He moves to Germany to pick up lost threads and fails. What is left is a life without anything to ...more
Scott Breslove
Aug 23, 2015 rated it liked it
My first Puzo, which I had on hand, and would help me decide to buy the Godfather or not. Yup, I'll be picking up the Godfather the next time I get a chance. The Dark Arena was good, not great, but it was definitely an enjoyable read exposing a time and setting I was not very familiar with. The characters, although not very likable (which I've seen other reviewers complain about), we very well done, each fitting in their own niche. Overall it wasn't a very pleasant book, not what one would call ...more
Karunakaran N.
The Dark Arena by Mario Puzo... The first book of Puzo (1957). Set entirely in the backdrop of the aftermath of WWII. Mosca from the US was a soldier of the Allied Forces returns home after war but emotionally bitter returns back to Germany where he finds solace to his perturbation, loses his love Hella (German) to the dire conditions after the war. Puzo has portrayed the play of human emotions when the world seems to be at the end. Well written no wonder Godfather was a great success.. The ...more
Michael Chrisman
For some reason i cant give ratIngs with this phone i got, i dont have a computer. But i want to give this book 5 stars. I cant believe the average rating is less than 4 stars, wack. I cant remember the dudes name who is the star of the book but i remember the book. It was real. What, i dont get it, someone didnt like it cause it wasnt fake. I read it in like one night as i was in twin towers los angeles county jail level 9, waiting for the chain. My cellys name was rob and his dad sent him the ...more
Apps *ąþþℓεş щïŧɧ şþℓεεŋ ïş şҩųïşɧγ*
This came as a pleasant surprise. I didn't go in expecting to like this book, and the first few pages didn't make an impression on me either, but as the book progressed, I actually grew to like it. Though I usually don't read stuff that are not a-thousand-things-happening-at-once stuff, this book was more that good enough to keep me in it's grip. I must say, Mario Puzo knows his business. More than the plot, it's the subtle way he narrates that makes it worth reading. I just may give his other ...more
Aug 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This guy is a friggin' genius. I couldn't believe this was his first book. I've read the Godfather books, and fell in love. Found this book in the store and got it. It was awesome. The story was amazing. There's probably some sign of immaturity in his writing, but it's great anyway. The plot is kinda simple but filled with emotions. The main character is confusing. I loved the time and place the story took place in. Gives you a nice picture of the post WWII situation.
San Dee
Jan 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
it took me a bit to be engaged, but once i was in, i was in to the end. visceral description of WW2, really delves into the psychological aspects of the effects of war on the conqueror and the conquered. poignant, shocking at times. i was surprised that this was Puzo's first book, he is an excellent writer. it's obvious that he had first-hand experience in the war. reminds me that i need to reread The Godfather books...
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Puzo was born in a poor family of Neapolitan immigrants living in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of New York. Many of his books draw heavily on this heritage. After graduating from the City College of New York, he joined the United States Army Air Forces in World War II. Due to his poor eyesight, the military did not let him undertake combat duties but made him a public relations officer ...more
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