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Little Caesar

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  169 Ratings  ·  25 Reviews
Paperback, 160 pages
Published July 1989 by No Exit Press (first published July 1929)
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(showing 1-30)
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Rob Kitchin
Aug 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Little Caesar is considered to be the first American gangster novel, highly innovative for the time for its social realism in depicting how a gang was run and organised, their crimes and on-going struggles with the law. He subsequently converted the book into a screenplay and it was made into a movie (1931), also considered the first classic Gangster film. In total he wrote over 40 novels and the screenplays for over 50 movies. The plot for Little Caesar is very linear, telling the story of the ...more
Larry Piper
Aug 09, 2012 rated it it was ok
The classic gangster book, which became a famous movie starring Edward G. Robinson. This wasn't a particularly well-written book, from a literary point of view, and it seems rather cliched today, but I'm guessing it was more-or-less the genesis of the gangster cliches.

Basically, it's the story of a tough guy who worked his way up in the Chicago gangster pantheon. Then he was identified and became a fugitive, eventually ending back in Toledo, where he'd begun his life of crime. He finds it horri
Theobald Mary
Mar 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Some people call Little Caesar the first modern crime novel. That may be. I read it for another reason: it was written in 1929 from the point of view of gangsters in Chicago, the site of my next mystery. I learned a lot I can use in my story.
The plot is fairly predictable. Young hoodlum gets worse and (SPOILER ALERT) dies in a hail of gunfire. What interested me most was the language. My story is set in 1924 and Little Caesar was written in 1929, but that’s close enough for me to rely on the lan
Jun 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ενδιαφέρουσα πλοκή και ανάπτυξη χαρακτήρων.
Το κείμενο κατά κύριο λόγο είναι γραμμένο σε διάλογο. Θυμίζει έντονα θεατρικό/κινηματογραφικό έργο.
Λείπουν οι περιγραφές.
Λείπει το μυστήριο. Οι ανακρίσεις. Οι ανατροπές. (καμία σχέση με Αγκάθα Κρίστι)
Αποζημιώνει με την ωμή και ρεαλιστική αποτύπωση του υποκόσμου και των ανθρώπων που τον αποτελούν.
Jen Myers
Mar 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a hidden gem of hardboiled literature. And I learned a couple of new 1920s-era slang words, which is saying something, considering I considered myself quite well-versed in that particular area.
Dec 26, 2014 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Geert Daelemans
Aug 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: detective
First gangster novel ever - a classic

Imagine yourself being flown back in time to the late 1930's and dropped of into a dark and lonely alley on the north side of Chicago, commonly known as Little Italy. This area, ruled by the mob, forms the setting for Little Caesar, world's first gangster novel.

Sam Vettori is one of the toughest gang-bosses of Little Italy, but his days are counted. A new ambitious predator is on the verge of throwing Sam from his throne. Cesare Bandello, commonly known a 'Ri
Aug 08, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: policier
Cesare Bandello, dit Rico, modeste membre d'un gang italien de Chicago, est un petit homme simple.

Il n'aime que trois choses au monde : "lui-même, ses cheveux et son revolver".

À l'issue d'un hold-up commis par sa bande, il abat froidement un policier et profite de l'incident pour prendre par la force la tête du gang.

Devenu chef, le petit César affiche sa véritable personnalité et règne en despote.

Ambitieux et arrogant, il s'attire vite la haine des bandes rivales et de ses propres hommes. La
Ronald Koltnow
Jul 08, 2015 rated it liked it
It is hard to believe that W. R. Burnett did not write LITTLE CAESAR with Edward G. Robinson in mind. The movie is so indelible, and Rico's speech is so evocative of Robinson, that the one seems to be entwined with the other. The narrative flows like a slide show, with glimpses into the rise and fall of one gangster. It gives the novel a quick pace and focuses on the suddenness of the changes in Rico's life. Burnett is often praised for his characterizations. What we learn about Rico is mostly t ...more
Steven Fujita
Being adapted into film and being one of the most iconic films of depression era Hollywood gangster films, I think me having seen the film influenced my perceptions as I read this book. In every scene with Rico, I kept imagining Edward G. Robinson. The novel itself reads more like a series of vignettes about the main character's rise and fall as a Chicagoland gangster. It was a fast, enjoyable read, but what I liked most about the book was the author's use of slang terms used by the gangsters an ...more
In 1929's Little Caesar, author W. R. Burnett, who had in a minor way infiltrated the Chicago underworld, strove to capture the career criminal, his milieu, and his idiom. Much of what was innovative in 1929 may seem quaint today; as a result, it can be easy to miss that Burnett was fomenting a revolution in crime fiction that would culminate 45 years later in the works of George V. Higgins and Elmore Leonard. But the highest praise for Little Caesar is that it is still a potent read today. The ...more
Sep 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This was sort of a whim checkout on my online library--I was searching for some interesting fiction and had been talking to my boyfriend about this flick and he had not seen it--so then I thought, "I wonder if their is a book available!?"...and there was. I was surprised--this was much better than I expected!! Ran along like a train and you just did not want to put it down--I have the flick in my Netflix queue because the dialogue in the book was easily as snappy as the movie and just as fun. I ...more
Barry Graham
Apr 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This novel (which is strikingly different from the great film based on it) is a masterpiece. First published in 1929, it foreshadows the best work of George V. Higgins (I think it must have been an influence on The Friends of Eddie Coyle, my favorite novel written in English), Elmore Leonard and Quentin Tarantino. Told mostly in dialogue, it’s a story of power, hubris, ambition, cowardice and social class, and shows that the world of organized crime is no different than supposedly “legitimate” b ...more
by Ax
Aug 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Criminal style

Tutti i piccoli imperatori vogliono fare qualcosa per sentirsi grandi. Rico Bandello non è da meno. Criminale di strada dal grilletto facile, aspira a lasciare il segno nella metropoli, Chicago. E ce la fa, diventa un capo banda rispettato dai più. Ma la vita del gangster non è facile, basta una soffiata alla polizia per ritrovarsi un nessuno. E come un nessuno Rico non ci sa stare, a costo della vita.
Romanzo seminale e vivace, da cui nel 1931 è stato tratto l'omonimo film con il
Oct 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people interested in film noir or gangster stories
Shelves: noir-style
"Little Caesar" was, I believe, the inspiration for the 1931 gangster film of the same name, starring Edward G. Robinson. There are a few differences between the book and movie, but the plot is the same, and chronicles the rise of the gangster Rico. It took me a bit to get into the swing of the writing style--things are shown, rather than described, and the motives and thoughts of the characters are not always evident. But, being a fan of this era, and also of 30's gangster movies, I really got ...more
C. James
Feb 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
I consider this the best "gangster" novel I've read. It launched Burnett's writing career and set the style for this type of fiction and film. Nobody seems to read Burnett anymore though this one sold well over 5 million copies. First published in 1929, Burnett's prose still crackles when some of the contemporary writing by Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett creaks.

My favorite edition is the 1956-7 reissue with the new introduction by Burnett, looking back on how he came to write this watersh
Very easy, fast read. As entertaining as a Cable TV movie on a Sunday afternoon when there isn't much else to do. There isn't much substance. There is no lesson to be learned. It's simply a collection of action scenes. Maybe in the 1930s this would have been a gem, but 80 years later, there's not much meat there.
Mar 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not saying that it's a brilliantly told story, or that it's even a story you haven't heard a million times before, but if you're into '20s gangster lingo, it's the goods, see? Any one of you yeggs turns softie and says differently will be taking a nap under the concrete.
Dec 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Una obra maestra del hard-boiled: la primera novela negra narrada desde el punto de vista del delincuente. Con una clara inspiración en la vida y obra de Al Capone, narra los bajos fondos de Chicago y del mundo de la mafia.
Nov 23, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-fiction, ahc
Feels weird to rate a classic so low, but considering that this came out at almost the same time as Red Harvest, Little Caesar really does not hold up.
Surfing Moose
You see I read this book and I read it good.
James M
Dec 19, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: crime-gang
A gangster novel about the struggle for power in 1920’s Chicago.
Aug 27, 2015 rated it liked it
The story of the rise and fall of a crime boss. I enjoyed the novel, and reading the old vernacular of 1929, The movie with Edward G. Robinson was excellent.
Jan C
Mar 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good story becomes good movie. It is a little different from the movie but still good.
Sep 09, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: americana
ascesa e declino di rico, piccolo gangster italoamericano nella little italy di chicago. secco e rapido, spietato e senza fronzoli.
rated it really liked it
Dec 26, 2013
rated it it was ok
Mar 20, 2014
Larry Shelton
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Aug 20, 2014
rated it really liked it
Jun 30, 2011
rated it it was ok
Aug 15, 2017
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William Riley Burnett (November 25, 1899 April 25, 1982), often credited as W. R. Burnett, was an American novelist and screenwriter. He is best known for the crime novel, Little Caesar, whose film adaptation is considered the first of the classic American gangster movies.
More about W.R. Burnett...

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