Cover image for The way of the wiseguy : true stories from the FBI's most famous undercover agent
The way of the wiseguy : true stories from the FBI's most famous undercover agent
Pistone, Joseph D.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Philadelphia : Running Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
224 pages ; 24 cm + 1 audio disc (digital ; 4 3/4 in.)
Personal Subject:
Format :


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Material Type
Home Location
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HV7911.P469 A3 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
HV7911.P469 A3 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
HV7911.P469 A3 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
HV7911.P469 A3 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
HV7911.P469 A3 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
HV7911.P469 A3 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
HV7911.P469 A3 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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Here's the first nonfiction work from author Joe Pistone since his New York Times #1 bestseller and hit movie, Donnie Brasco . Perhaps no man alive knows the inner workings and lifestyle of wiseguys better than Pistone does, having spent six years infiltrating the Mafia as an undercover FBI agent. Now, years later, Pistone reassesses what the underworld was really about. Occasionally poignant, always in shocking detail, The Way of the Wiseguy gives readers a first-hand look at the thinking, psychology, and customs that make wiseguys a unique breed. The book is divided into anecdotes that reveal key principles of wiseguy life, including "Don't Volunteer You Don't Know Something," "Be a Good Earner," "Look Like You Mean Business," "It's Your Best Friend Who Will Kill You," and much more. The stories-more than 80 of them-are spellbinding, and the insights into this lawless realm of badguys are often uncannily relevant to the workings of the legitimate world of big business and everyday social discourses. Includes CD with shocking undercover surveillance audio from the Donnie Brasco operation (with commentary by author Joe Pistone).

Author Notes

Joseph D. Pistone was an undercover FBI agent for more than 20 years, and undertook the longest, deepest, and most successful penetration into the U.S. Mafia ever, resulting in more than 100 convictions. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller Donnie Brasco. He has also written several novels about the underworld. He lives in an undisclosed location. No photo available

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The name Joseph Pistone might not ring any bells, but that's because, while he was pretending to be a jewel thief called Donnie Brasco, anyone who found out he was Pistone would probably have had him killed. A former FBI agent, Pistone spent six years as Brasco, penetrating deep into the notorious Bonnano crime family, and his investigation led to the conviction of more than 100 criminals. These events are dramatized in the film Donnie Brasco0 , but here Pistone goes behind the drama to get at the everyday details of life as a "wiseguy." Readers will learn how wiseguys prepare for a hit, how they treat their wives and girlfriends, why they don't make restaurant reservations, and what sort of table manners they have (not good ones). This down-and-dirty guide to a criminal subculture comes packaged with a CD that contains actual surveillance audio recorded during Pistone's investigation. Current interest in this subject, sparked by The Sopranos0 , guarantees this book a wide and enthusiastic readership. --David Pitt Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

The romanticized view of the mob gets a reality check in this fascinating guide to the real Cosa Nostra from Pistone, who successfully infiltrated one of New York City's five families as an FBI undercover agent in the late 1970s and early 1980s. During his six years posing as Donnie Brasco, Pistone managed to gain the trust of countless mobsters and was almost formally made a member of the Mafia. That access led to numerous investigations and prosecutions resulting in more than 100 convictions, including those of the bosses who formed the mob's ruling body, the Commission. Pistone's first book, the bestselling Donnie Brasco (later filmed with Johnny Depp in the lead role), presented a detailed chronological narrative of his infiltration. This time, he has organized his experiences into short chapters describing what the gangsters he worked with were really like, with titles such as "A Typical Day in the Life of a Wiseguy" and "How Wiseguys Take over a Business." He makes abundantly clear that the codes of honor depicted in popular culture and self-serving Mafiosi memoirs are myths, as is the notion that the old-timers steered clear of drug-dealing for moral reasons. The book also contains an amazing extra-a CD of an actual FBI surveillance tape in which thugs talk about the idea of doing in Donnie Brasco. Agent, Frank Weimann. (Apr. 1) Forecast: A 50,000 printing, a $50,000 national ad campaign and a seven-city author tour should help launch this onto many bestseller lists. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Former FBI agent Pistone authored the best-selling Donnie Brasco (Pistone's assumed name), which detailed his years of deep, perilous undercover work within the Mafia and later begat the Johnny Depp/Al Pacino movie of the same name. Here he returns with a kind of Cliffs Notes guide to wiseguys for those who either didn't catch Donnie Brasco or Pistone's Mafia novels or who have trouble drawing their own conclusions about people, offering short chapters such as "Wiseguys Are Not Nice Guys," "Why Wiseguys Will Kill You," and the like, all designed to show the reader that, well, wiseguys are not nice guys. (The Bonanno family put out a $500,000 contract on him when it became known that he was a cop.) In so doing, he assumes a tough-guy persona that establishes a certain tone and probably did wonders in keeping him alive during his years undercover but does wear a bit thin. Other than his observations that the younger generation of mobster is a different breed of cat, more careless and less respectful of the rules and traditions of the mob, Pistone offers few new revelations about Mafiosi. Still, the public's abiding interest in gangsters and the Donnie Brasco connection will create demand. Recommended for most public libraries. Jim Burns, Jacksonville P.L., FL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. 8
Introductionp. 9
1 Wiseguys Are Not Nice Guysp. 17
2 Wiseguys Mean Businessp. 23
3 Why Wiseguys Will Kill Youp. 27
4 Wiseguys and Moneyp. 31
5 Gambling and Loan-sharkingp. 39
6 Wiseguys and Womenp. 49
7 Wiseguy Table Mannersp. 55
8 How to Embarrass a Wiseguyp. 57
9 Wiseguys Don't Like to Waitp. 61
10 Why Wiseguys Never Lose Fightsp. 63
11 Wiseguys Don't Make Reservationsp. 67
12 Wiseguys Won't Be Ignoredp. 71
13 Wiseguys Don't Hide Who They Arep. 75
14 The Bossp. 79
15 How Wiseguys Get Straightened Outp. 91
16 How Wiseguys Get Respectp. 97
17 How Wiseguys Take over a Businessp. 105
18 How Wiseguys Carry Out a Hitp. 109
19 A Typical Day in the Life of a Wiseguyp. 117
20 Wiseguy Nicknamesp. 121
21 What Wiseguys Say and What They Meanp. 123
22 Wiseguys Work Scams 24/7p. 131
23 A Few Things Wiseguys Don't Dop. 135
24 Why You Can't Bullshit a Wiseguyp. 141
25 Why Wiseguys Love Donnie Brascop. 145
26 Wiseguys All over the Worldp. 153
27 Wiseguys Are Patrioticp. 163
28 Wiseguys Are Cheapp. 165
29 Wiseguys Aren't Great Shotsp. 169
30 Wiseguys Love Their Foodp. 173
31 How Wiseguys Go to the Mattressesp. 177
32 Wiseguys Have No Friendsp. 181
33 Old Wiseguys, New Wiseguysp. 185
34 The Way of the Wiseguyp. 191
Appendix Transcripts from Undercover Surveillance Audiop. 197