Mario Puzo's epic The Godfather is a true classic in every sense. To this day it remains a vivid, powerful saga that reflects cultural values and the idolization of the American dream. The story is rich and complex, full of well drawn characters who jump off the page through their savage acts of moralistic depravity. The Godfather, the Don of New York is the undisputed mafia kingpin but has trouble on the horizon. Other families have allied against him and a protracted war has begun. Into the fray come the Don's sons - Santino "Sonny", Fredo and Michael. Both Sonny and Fredo work with the Don, but Michael has chosen his own path away from the family business. However, the brutal shooting of his father changes everything for young Michael.
Here the phrase - "Godfather-like descent into evil" is born. Michael does not simply become a Don: he becomes the Don. Turns out, the kid is capable of doing very bad things in the name of legitimizing the family business. He takes over and his story begins a deep arc into a place from which he cannot return.
There is more to it than that, and some people point to the fantastic movie adaption as proof they know what it is all about. The movie, while great, is nowhere near as deep and thoughtful as the book. Puzo's journey through the heart of darkness and his illumination on the lives of the characters is fascinating. His short, direct prose elegantly captures the world he is writing about and fits hand in hand with his overarching plot.
The Godfather is a seminal work in fiction, and deserves not only to be read over and over again, but also to be deeply studied and comtemplated. A masterpiece that could not come more highly recommended.