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Wise Guy
Nicholas Pileggi
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Wise Guy

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  12,554 ratings  ·  605 reviews
"Wiseguy" is Nicholas Pileggi's remarkable bestseller, the most intimate account ever printed of life inside the deadly high-stakes world of what some people call the Mafia. "Wiseguy" is Henry Hill's story, in fascinating, brutal detail, the never-before-revealed day-to-day life of a working mobster - his violence, his wild spending sprees, his wife, his mistresses, his ...more
Mass Market Paperback
Published by Pocket Books (first published January 1985)
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Alan Kelleher It is, the movie is just an abridged version of the book. Nicholas Pileggi was included in writing the screenplay.

If you loved the movie, you'll adore…more
It is, the movie is just an abridged version of the book. Nicholas Pileggi was included in writing the screenplay.

If you loved the movie, you'll adore the book.(less)
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I first read this when it came out in the mid 80s. I was 70 or 80 pages into it when Henry Hill first mentioned his niteclub on Queens Boulevard,The Suite. At that point I realized I had worked in Henry's club as a musician in the early 1970s. I remembered Henry (never knew his last name) standing at the end of the bar most nights watching the action and hanging out with his friends. Of course at that point the book grabbed my total interest and I finished it in a few hours. It's arguably the ...more
Aug 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Funny like I'm a clown?
Donna Ho Shing
Sep 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved it. I loved it. I loved it.

First things first, GoodFellas is my favorite movie. One more time for the people in the back: not only is GoodFellas my favorite film, I’m borderline obsessed. So what I’ll do here is try my very best to not turn this into a movie review. Though you probably couldn’t tell the difference.

For those of you who may not know (um, have you been living under a rock, and how did you find this book?!) “Wiseguy” by Nicholas Pileggi published in 1985 is the basis for
Nov 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“For Assistant U.S. Attorney McDonald and the Strike Force prosecutors Henry Hill was a bonanza. He was not a mob boss or even a noncommissioned officer in the mob, but he was an earner, the kind of sidewalk mechanic who knew something about everything. He could have written the handbook on street-level mob operations. Ever since the first day he walked into the Euclid Avenue Taxicab Company back in 1954, Henry had been fascinated by the world he had longed to join, and there was little he hadn’ ...more
C.C. Cole
Apr 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Wiseguy” tells the story of the life of career criminal Henry Hill, well known in the film “Goodfellas,” which is based upon this book. As with many books that go to films, the inner details add depth to Hill’s story and give the reader a better feel for the disturbing and violent life he lead. With the romanticism of film removed, the facts are told mostly from Henry and his wife at the time, Karen. What I liked most about “Wiseguy” is the true events, rather than the detailed idealistic ...more
Jul 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nicholas Pileggi's non fiction book, 'Wiseguy', is the basis for the film, GoodFellas, directed by Martin Scorsese (1990). It's the true story of Henry Hill, a member of the Lucchese organised crime family in New York. Henry's heyday takes place during the 1960s and 1970s when he works under the protection of mob boss Paul Vario in the Brownsville-East New York section of Brooklyn.

Has there ever been a great disparity between a book and a film adaptation?

This is not to suggest that 'Wiseguy'
Aug 22, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think this could have been a very jarring book had I not seen the movie Goodfellas so many times I practically have it memorized. As with the Godfather book/film, Goodfellas is an extremely faithful representation of Wiseguy.

As many people have pointed out previously, what sets this book apart is the outright bluntness in the delivery. It wastes no time trying to water the cold, hard facts down or romanticize the lifestyle of a mafioso. We're talking about people who would murder their best
Based on evidence given while going into the witness protection program, this is a gritty view of what it is actually like to be a 'Wise Guy' or Mafia thug. I was amazed & repelled by the book. Unlike the Godfather which made a hero out of such men & touted a loyalty & honor throughout the ranks, this book shows the actual setup. How self-interest rules their lives & how little empathy they have.

I didn't like the book or the subject, but it was well written & worth reading.
Sami Choudhury
Jun 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I waited for this book for a long time. Watched my favorite movie "Goodfellas" based on this book several times. So when I got the hard copy of the book, I could not resist myself finishing it at once. It is As good as the movie. But if someone watches the movie, the book is waste of time in my opinion. The movie is a total honest representation of the book. But my case is different. I love to read about Mafia. :)

The book is based on the real life story of a mobster Henry Hill. He used to be a
Kristin Shafel
May 10, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A deeper look into the story of Henry Hill and his life and involvement with the New York City Mafia from the 1950s-90s. The beginning of the book is nearly exactly like its film version (Goodfellas, a classic in my opinion), but if you keep going the story takes new turns not shown in the film, with additional schemes and characters. I enjoyed the different perspectives, with narratives from the writer, Karen (Henry's wife), FBI detectives, and mostly Henry himself. If you have an interest in ...more
Hesamul Haque
Oct 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After reading this book I am sure going to watch the movie goodfellas(as also it has a high rating on IMDb).
Talking about the biography it was a great ride, I enjoyed reading this book. And I am sure you will too!
Jim Breslin
Apr 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wiseguy was a fascinating read for so many reasons. The biographical account of low-level mafia man Henry Hill was the inspiration for the classic movie Goodfellas. Like the movie, the book takes us inside the life of a gang of criminals who made their money every illegal way imaginable - from stick ups, to rigging NCAA basketball games, to robberies, to insurance fraud, etc. I found it fascinating that the movie really followed the book and that much of the narration in the movie was directly ...more
Sep 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Of course my reading of this book was heavily influenced by the fact that I’ve seen the movie Goodfellas about 10 times. I can totally understand how someone read this and thought “I have to make this story into a movie.” Henry Hill is larger than life, and his journey from a little boy helping out at a cab stand to becoming one of the top players in the Lucchese crime family is incredible to read about. He tells the story with such wit and cleverness that entire paragraphs of his words were ...more
May 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
By: Tj Scott
The book “Wiseguy” is about Henry Hill a member of the Lucchese crime family.The book itself tells a different perspective of the “Mob”. Its seen through the eyes of Nicholas Pileggi the author but told to by Hill himself . It displays an interesting outlook,Mob movies books characters have fascinated the world for so long and its the belief that their is another world more exhilarating and exciting fast paced and the common person is just looking to escape the real world
Cathal Kenneally
This has to be one of the best books I've read about gangsters, the mafia. I've read this book twice. I read it years ago before the movie Goodfellas came out and I've seen that movie so many times! It has become one of my favourite movies. Its not often a movie can be as good as the book but this is definitely the case
Henry the rat fink
a real coked up piece of work
just watch the movie.
Cathleen Dwyer
Apr 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is great. Tight, interesting, paints a great picture. Scorsese made it into a movie that follows it exactly. But, I think the book is much better, maybe because of the narration? Maybe because I listened to Henry Hill calling into Howard Stern's show for years. Not sure why I like it so much more. Worth a read if you have a few hours... Mostly because you won't want to put it down. Can't wait to read the next installment about Henry Hill, a book by one of his kids.
Same old, same old..., over-rated. Or just not as good, maybe, as the movie.
Jan 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the sort of book that makes reading true crime interesting. What I mean is this: while reading about gruesome murders is sometimes chillingly good, and one reads such books just for the shock value, sometimes a book comes along that gives you the big picture. This is such a book.

Henry Hill fell in love with the Mafia way of life as a kid, and he stuck to it until the bitter end - or rather, until he had two choices. Either join the Federal Witness Protection Program, or face the music
Nov 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Goodfellas (originally titled Wiseguy) is a terrific true crime book that just stops short of romanticizing the life of a gangster. The book is about working class Italian and Irish gangsters in Brooklyn, starting from their early days in the 1950s to their fall in the 70s and 80s, told through the eyes of a foot soldier - Henry Hill and his wife Karen.

Pileggi lays things down for us (like the milieu or an important happening) and then lets Henry and Karen Hill talk us through their lives. The
Oct 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hands down, this is the best book ever written about the mafia. Like Pileggi says in the first few pages, Henry gives one of the most rare views from the inside, because he watched everything and participated in the lifestyle with a sense of detachment, probably because he knew that while he could never be an "official" member, the more he paid attention, the more he could endear himself to the higher-ups of the mafia family he was associated with.

Like most people who read this book, I saw the
Daiv Shorten
Jun 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you can't get enough of Goodfellas, this book is a perfect way to get all of the details. The most surprising aspect of the book is just how true-to-life Scorsese was in his direction of the movie. I suppose that might have something to do with his collaboration with author Nicholas Pileggi, who he worked with again on Casino. This attention to detail allows the reader to visualize and recall the scenes of Goodfellas as Pileggi provides embellishments to enrich the story for the reader. ...more
Jan 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are lots of reviews for this book... and this isn't the first or even second time I have read it but I am still going to chime in. This is a wonderful book if you like mobsters. A lot of reviews say watch the movie and I can't disagree ... Martin Scorsese is a genius and the screen play used great chunks of the book. But the book is so much more, because while the movie features Henry Hill the book stars Henry Hill. And Henry Hill is absolutely fascinating...

If you like the movie
This is the story of Henry Hill, a close associate of Paul Vario, a capo in the Lucchese crime family in New York City. It impresses not in the criminal achievements of Hill, but rather in the breadth of knowledge which Hill provides of the mafia way of life - what is entailed in living the life of a wiseguy.

Comparisons with the film of the same name are inevitable but I tried to avoid this common pitfall. the film is slick, star studded, well acted and with innovative and highly effective
Mike Steven
I enjoyed this but I'm going to say something I rarely or never say - watch the film instead.

The best bits of the book are the interviews with Henry Hill, and most of them appear verbatim as a voice over in the movie. As such, the book adds very little to the enjoyment or detail of the film version.

There are a couple of extra details but, on the whole, it's probably not worth reading as I'd give the film a clear five stars.

(I'm not sure I'm happy with myself for doing a review saying films are
Shirley Schwartz
Jan 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, 2020
I've always been fascinated with the Italian Mafia and outlaw biker gangs and the lifestyle that they lead. I've watched all the Godfather movies, The Last Chapter and Sons of Anarchy, along with documentaries about Al Capone, the Teflon Don, Bugsy Malone, and Pretty Boy Floyd. I even followed John Gotti's court case. Even with all that, this book opened my eyes to Wise Guys and their lifestyle. It is set in New York during the 1960's, and 1970's. Henry Hill was an American mobster affiliated ...more
The mafia has always been a big part in American and world history. From bootlegging all the way up to cold blood murder and prostitution. Most of the organized crime was either in New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago. There were Italian, Irish and even Japanese mafia families. Nicholas Pileggi interviews an old mobster by the name of Henry Hill. In the book Wiseguy talks about all kinds of inside goodness of the evil minds of the organized crime families and the how everyone pulled it off. It’s ...more
I’m glad I read this and learned the details of Henry Hill’s life. Everyone has their own unique mindset, and out of curiosity, it’s cool to get into someone else’s for a while.

That said, I never liked the film Goodfellas half as much as The Godfather. Yes, it’s a truer story—more violent, and not as sanitized for the purpose of storytelling. Totally valid point. However, I don’t love dry non-fiction, and this was pretty dry. The book was organized well and it wasn’t long, but it dealt with a
Feb 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-gangsters
The first time I read this was just before Goodfellas hit the theaters. I plowed through it again recently because I didn’t have anything better to do, or at least nothing better that would be more fun than reading this for the second time. This book and the movie set the standard for modern gangster stories in film and in print.

The movie owes so much to this book, but Scorsese really turned this mob memoir in to a masterpiece which sits alongside Godfather and Godfather II in the hold trinity
Madame Jane
Jun 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, my-library
The best mob book ever. I was skeptical about reading this because Goodfellas is in my top 10 of favourite films. The book manages to make me love the movie somehow more. Chapter 19, the infamous helicopter, pasta-making, drug fuelled day was so faithfully adapted to screen by Martin Scorsese. If anything, reading the book offers bonus information about Hill's neighbourhood, the Boston College point shaving scheme, and additional heists not featured in the masterpiece film.
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Nicholas Pileggi is best known for writing the book Wiseguy, which he adapted into the movie Goodfellas, and for writing the book and screenplay Casino. The movie versions of both were co-written and directed by Martin Scorsese. Pileggi also wrote the screenplay for the 1996 film City Hall. He began his career as a journalist and had a profound interest in the Mafia. This is where he developed his ...more
“By birth, certainly, they were not prepared in any way to achieve their desires. They were not the smartest kids in the neighborhood. They were not born the richest. They weren’t even the toughest. In fact, they lacked almost all the necessary talents that might have helped them satisfy the appetites of their dreams, except one—their talent for violence.” 2 likes
“On one occasion Jimmy is said to have given the elderly, impoverished mother of a young hood five thousand dollars. The woman’s son was said to have owed his mother the money but had refused to pay her. Jimmy was apparently so incensed at this lack of regard for motherhood that he gave the woman the five thousand in the morning, claiming it was from her son, and then allegedly killed the woman’s son before dusk.” 1 likes
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