The Godfather is a crime novel written by American author Mario Puzo. The novel details the story of a fictional Mafia family based in New York City (and Long Beach, New York), headed by Vito Corleone. The novel covers the years 1945 to 1955, and also provides the back story of Vito Corleone from early childhood to adulthood.
The Corleone family and the mob war they fight with the other four mafia families in New York in the years after World War II is the central issue. After Don Vito Corleone is shot by men working for drug dealer Virgil “The Turk” Sollozzo, Corleone’s two sons, Santino (“Sonny”) and Michael, must run the family business with the help of consigliere Tom Hagen and the two caporegimes Clemenza and Tessio. When Michael murders Sollozzo and Captain McCluskey, a police officer on the drug lord’s payroll, the conflict escalates into a full-scale war which results in Sonny’s murder and Michael’s ascension to the head of the family. Under his retired father’s tutelage, Michael orchestrates a plan to relocate the Corleone family’s power base to Las Vegas. This culminates in the murder of all of the family’s enemies, including his brother-in-law Carlo Rizzi, who played a part in Santino’s murder. Michael then sells the family’s businesses in New York and moves the family to Las Vegas.
The book is noteworthy for introducing Italian words like consigliere, caporegime, Cosa Nostra, and omert? to an English-speaking audience. It inspired a 1972 film of the same name. Two film sequels, including new contributions by Puzo himself, were made in 1974 and 1990. The films are widely held in high esteem as examples of the cinematic arts.