The Valachi Papers by Peter Maas

December 12, 2011
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The Valachi Papers Critique

Many films today center around mob life, such as Goodfellas or The Godfather. These movies, while extremely entertaining, do not truly provide accurate details as to the reality of organized crime. However, one novel written by Peter Maas entitled The Valachi Papers, depicts the true mob life because the main character, Joseph Valachi, was a former Mafia member. Although the book is not superbly entertaining, those curious to find out how the real mob operated should definitely read the story.
Joseph Valachi describes life as a member of the Mafia, or Cosa Nostra, with exquisite detail from start to finish. The man’s memory proves impeccable as he recalls every event that took place with complete accuracy, which often times is backed by cited police reports. This ability to remember makes up only a small part of the unique personality within this mobster.

Most people believe that every Mafia member was a vicious criminal that cared more about money than life. Although occasionally this proved to be true, Valachi’s personality based itself off common sense rather than cruelty. The man did not hurt a soul unless given no other choice. The side of the story that this mobster tells almost makes the reader sympathize with him, because Valachi made every move with a sensible purpose and those who do not understand that should read the book to find out.
However, despite these outstanding qualities, the novel does become rather dry in some parts and is not designed to entertain the reader, but rather to inform. Much information that the novel does state does not appear to be necessary to the storyline. Those who want only entertainment

should stick to Goodfellas and The Godfather. However, if one wishes to find out exactly what the real gangsters were like, this novel is an excellent choice to read.
“This will certify that the enclosed work is completely original.”
Word Count: 312





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