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Donnie Brasco: My Undercover Life in the Mafia

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  7,412 ratings  ·  261 reviews
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 t ...more
Paperback, Film tie-in, 413 pages
Published 1997 by Coronet (first published January 29th 1988)
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Average rating 4.05  · 
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 ·  7,412 ratings  ·  261 reviews


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Thomas
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
Heikki
Jul 07, 2011 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
...more
Suraj Alva
Gets old after a while--mostly cuz there's no psychological depth or very little analysis of what's going on. So it turns into: this happened, then this happened, then that happened. ...more
Trish
Sep 03, 2012 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
Joel
Mar 12, 2010 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.
Lee Rosenwink
Jun 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Right, I’m off to watch the movie and check for continuity errors
Paul Gaya Ochieng Simeon Juma
I have always been interested in 'Mafia' novels. I find them to be very chilling, gripping, and exciting to read. Joseph D. Pistone's book was not an exception. He worked undercover inside the Mafia for six years. That is no mean task. His work alone was able to bring about over one hundred convictions from the underworld. Attorney General, William French Smith and the FBI director Webster presented him with the "Attorney General's Distinguished Award" for the outstanding agent in the FBI at the ...more
Vinothraj
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.
...more
Wai Zin
May 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Portrayal of the true Mafia.
Ellie
Apr 18, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: true-crime
Interesting if you wanna learn a lot about the inner workings of the Mafia and one of the biggest coups in law enforcement history.

The writing style is appalling though, and while Joseph D. Pistone was an effective FBI agent, as a person he's really boring and unimaginative. His ghost writer didn't do a very good job.

Lots of eyeroll moments are to be had if you pick up this book, a book written badly about an interesting subject matter.
...more
Ashley
I have always been a monster movie/book fan and seen it on Amazon for a good price so I jumped on it.( was actually looking for the “You paint houses”because the Hoffa murder story is coming out very soon and I always love to read the book before I see the movie
(Just always been like that.)
But this is a true story of a under-cover agent infiltrating the Mob. He ends up doing well getting in good with these guys(almost becoming a made-man!) This book is full of old school mob characters and new s
...more
TheBookWarren
3.5 Stars - Joe Pistone is the real deal, so much so he still likes to sound like a gangster, despite the time passed and what gangsters would do to him even today if they found him.. I enjoyed the movie but to me the book has just so much more grit, whilst also remaining more faithful to the fact JP was more of a mobster than he was cop in the final months, as well as giving a clearer picture of the tire players and their roles in this incredible saga that just about brought down the mob in one ...more
Dimi Tsioumbris
Jun 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What can you say about Pistone! he fooled the mafia mobsters and humiliated them for five years and came out alive, a very rare case of a man, and a very interesting one to read about!
Surely this man has more guts and bravado than the whole mafia put together.
Samantha
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jesse
Aug 29, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have mixed feelings about this book. My thoughts on the book itself, and my thoughts on the person that was Donnie Brasco.

My thoughts on the book itself. The writing was ok. Pistone was an FBI agent not a writer so remember that. The story flowed chronologically. There was a lot of repetition.  Not necessarily repeating the same scene but multiple scenes were very close to the same. Bad guys need money, bad guys scheme to get money. Bad guys need money, bad guys scheme to make money. You get
...more
Pablo Pachalian
Jun 02, 2012 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
Landon
Jun 23, 2011 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
3 STARS

"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
...more
Jeremy
Jan 12, 2014 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
Bradley
Nov 22, 2015 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
...more
Joshua
Dec 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the book version of the motion picture by the same name. Written by undercover FBI agent Joseph Pistone. In the book, Pistone chronicles his undercover operation infiltrating the Bonanno Crime Family one of the five crime families in NYC. The author does a great job highlighting his investigation mingling with mobsters in NYC, Tampa, and Milwaukee while orchestrating the schemes to bring a case against them. This is a highly readable narrative that anyone would enjoy reading even if your ...more
Jevron McCrory
Jan 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Enthralling!

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!
...more
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. ...more
Omar Delawar
Dec 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
6 Year Undercover commitment from an FBI Agent to bring down the Italian Mob. He is still married after all that jazz. Imagine that. This is a short-read and I would get the audiobook version otherwise you are missing out on the audio-taped conversations between the wise-guys, mafia captains and Joe. Loved the narration as well - appropriately New York-Italian.
Zachary Stewart
Aug 04, 2011 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.
...more
Kaye
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.
Joy
Great book and the movie is faithful to the book as well. I recommend reading the book first. The movie is excellent though.
Henry Kane
Apr 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book better than the film.
Realini
Jul 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Donnie Brasco, written by Paul Attanasio, based on the books by Joseph D. Pistone and Richard Woodley
10 out of 10

Notes and thoughts on other books are available at:

- https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list... and http://realini.blogspot.ro/

This film?

- “Forget about it!!”

As Donnie Brasco explains when asked by his fellow FBI agents, this is a catch phrase, leitmotif used by the mobsters.
They used for a car that was not good, for a meal that they enjoyed and was extraordinary or just to say…forget a
...more
Jacqueline Tao
Aug 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's an interesting story though not necessarily a demonstration in the art of the English language. Like the few biographies that I like, this one is an autobiography. I like it when you read an autobiography and get transported into the mind and attitude of the author. As I read the lines, I could almost hear that 80s Brooklyn wise guy voice in my head. Direct, short, no flowing metaphors or thoughtful soliloquies.

My favorite exerpt:
" We undercover agents were not always given the equipment
...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Donnie Brasco 1 9 Oct 01, 2020 04:56PM  

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