The Last Don

The Last Don

by Mario Puzo

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A masterful saga of the last great American Mafia family and its powerful reach into Hollywood and Las Vegas, from the author of The Godfather

The Last Don
is Domenico Clericuzio, a wise and ruthless old man who is determined to see his heirs established in legitimate society but whose vision is threatened when secrets from the family's past spark a vicious war between two blood cousins.

The Last Don is a mesmerizing tale that takes us inside the equally corrupt worlds of the mob, the movie industry, and the casinos where beautiful actresses and ruthless hitmen are ruled by lust and violence, where sleazy producers and greedy studio heads are drunk on power, where crooked cops and desperate gamblers play dangerous games of betrayal, and where one man controls them all.

Praise for The Last Don
“Puzo is in top form. . . . Head-long entertainment, bubbling over with corruption, betrayal, assassinations, Richter-scale romance, and, of course, family values.”Time

“The most entertaining read since The Godfather.”The New York Times Book Review

“Skillfully crafted . . . It gives us Hollywood, Las Vegas, and the mob in one sweet dish.”Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Puzo returns after a quarter century to the terrain of his greatest success, The Godfather, to tell a second masterful tale of Mafia life.”Variety

“A compelling tale peopled by memorable characters . . . Puzo is a master storyteller with an uncanny facility for details that force the reader to keep the pages turning.”USA Today

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345480712
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/28/2004
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 512
Sales rank: 79,095
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

The son of Italian immigrants who moved to the Hell’s Kitchen area of New York City, Mario Puzo was born on October 15, 1920. After World War II, during which he served as a U.S. Army corporal, he attended City College of New York on the G.I. Bill and worked as a freelance writer. During this period he wrote his first two novels, The Dark Arena and The Fortunate Pilgrim.When his books made little money despite being critically acclaimed, he vowed to write a bestseller. The Godfather was an enormous success. He collaborated with director Francis Ford Coppola on the screenplays for all three Godfather movies and won Academy Awards for both The Godfather and The Godfather, Part II. He also collaborated on the scripts for such films as Superman, Superman II, and The Cotton Club. He continued to write phenomenally successful novels, including Fools Die, The Sicilian, The Fourth K, and The Last Don. Mario Puzo died on July 2, 1999. His final novel, Omerta, was published in 2000.

Date of Birth:

October 15, 1920

Date of Death:

July 2, 1999

Place of Birth:

New York City

Place of Death:

Bay Shore, Long Island


Attended New York City's New School for Social Research and Columbia University

Read an Excerpt

BOZ SKANNET’S RED cap of hair was sprayed by the lemon-colored sunlight of California spring. His taut, muscular body throbbed to enter a great battle. His whole being was elated that his deed would be seen by more than a billion people all over the world.
In the elastic waistband of Skannet’s tennis slacks was a small pistol, concealed by the zippered jacket pulled down to his crotch. That white jacket blazed with vertical red lightning bolts. A blue-dotted scarlet bandana bound his hair.
In his right hand he held a huge, silvery Evian bottle. Boz Skannet presented himself perfectly to the showbiz world he was about to enter.
That world was a huge crowd in front of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles, a crowd awaiting the arrival of movie stars to the Academy Awards ceremony. Specially erected grandstands held the spectators, the street itself was filled with TV cameras and reporters who would send iconic images all over the world. Tonight people would see their great movie stars in the flesh, shed of their manufactured mythic skins, subject to real-life losing and winning.
Uniformed security guards with shiny brown batons tucked neatly in holsters formed a perimeter to keep the spectators in check.
Boz Skannet didn’t worry about them. He was bigger, faster, and tougher than those men, and he had the element of surprise. He was wary of the TV reporters and cameramen who fearlessly staked out territory to intercept the celebrities. But they would be more eager to record than prevent.
A white limousine pulled up to the entrance of the Pavilion, and Skannet saw Athena Aquitane, “the most beautiful woman in the world,” according to various magazines. As she emerged, the crowd pressed against the barriers, shouting her name. Cameras surrounded her and charged her beauty to the far corners of the earth. She waved.
Skannet vaulted over the grandstand fence. He zigzagged through the traffic barriers, saw the brown shirts of the security guards start to converge, the pattern familiar. They didn’t have the right angle. He slipped past them as easily as he had the tacklers on the football field years before. And he arrived at exactly the right second. There was Athena talking into the microphone, head tilted to show her best side to the cameras. Three men were standing beside her. Skannet made sure that the camera had him, and then he threw the liquid from the bottle into Athena Aquitane’s face.
He shouted, “Here’s some acid, you bitch.” Then he looked directly into the camera, his face composed, serious, and dignified. “She deserved it,” he said. He was covered by a wave of brown-shirted men with their batons at the ready. He knelt on the ground.
At the last moment Athena Aquitane had seen his face. She heard his shout and turned her head so that the liquid struck her cheek and ear.
A billion TV people saw it all. The lovely face of Athena, the silvery liquid on her cheek, the shock and the horror, the recognition when she saw her attacker; a look of true fear that for a second destroyed all her imperious beauty.
The one billion people around the world watched as the police dragged Skannet off. He looked like a movie star himself as he raised his shackled hands in a victory salute, only to collapse as an enraged police officer, finding the gun in his waistband, gave him a short, terrible blow to the kidney.
Athena Aquitane, still reeling from shock, automatically brushed the liquid from her cheek. She felt no burning. The liquid drops on her hand began to dissolve. People were crashing all around her, to protect her, to carry her away.
She pulled loose and said to them calmly, “It’s only water.” She licked the drops off her hand to be sure. Then she tried to smile. “Typical of my husband,” she said.
Athena, showing the great courage that helped make her a legend, walked quickly into the Pavilion of the Academy Awards. When she won the Oscar for best actress, the audience rose and clapped for what seemed like forever.
In the chilled penthouse suite of the Xanadu Casino Hotel of Las Vegas, the eighty-five-year-old owner lay dying. But on this spring day, he thought he could hear, from sixteen floors below, an ivory ball clacking through red and black slots of roulette wheels, the distant surf of crapshooters hoarsely imploring tumbling dice, the whirring of thousands of slot machines devouring silver coins.
Alfred Gronevelt was as happy as any man could be while dying. He had spent nearly ninety years as a hustler, dilettante pimp, gambler, accessory to murder, political fixer, and finally as the strict but kindly lord of the Xanadu Casino Hotel. For fear of betrayal, he had never fully loved any human being, but he had been kind to many. He felt no regrets. Now, he looked forward to the tiny little treats left in his life. Like his afternoon journey through the Casino.
Croccifixio “Cross” De Lena, his right-hand man for the last five years, came into the bedroom and said, “Ready Alfred?” And Gronevelt smiled at him and nodded.
Cross picked him up and put him in the wheelchair, the nurse tucked the old man in blankets, the male attendant took his post to wheel. The nurse handed Cross a pillbox and opened the door of the penthouse. She would remain behind. Gronevelt could not abide her on these afternoon jaunts.
The wheelchair rolled easily over the false green turf of the penthouse garden and entered the special express elevator that descended the sixteen floors to the Casino.
Gronevelt sat straight in his chair, looking right and left. This was his pleasure, to see men and women who battled against him with the odds forever on his side. The wheelchair made a leisurely tour through the blackjack and roulette area, the baccarat pit, the jungle of crap tables. The gamblers barely noticed the old man in the wheelchair, his alert eyes, the bemused smile on his skeletal face. Wheelchair gamblers were common in Vegas. They thought fate owed them some debt of luck for their misfortune.
Finally the chair rolled into the coffee shop/dining room. The attendant deposited him at their reserved booth and then retired to another table to await their signal to leave.
Gronevelt could see through the glass wall to the huge swimming pool, the water burning a hot blue in the Nevada sun, young women with small children studding its surface like colored toys. He felt a tiny rush of pleasure that all this was his creation.
“Alfred, eat a little something,” Cross De Lena said.
Gronevelt smiled at him. He loved the way Cross looked, the man was so handsome in a way that appealed to both men and women, and he was one of the few people that Gronevelt had almost trusted during his lifetime.
“I love this business,” Gronevelt said. “Cross, you’ll inherit my points in the Hotel and I know you’ll have to deal with our partners in New York. But never leave Xanadu.”
Cross patted the old man’s hand, all gristle beneath the skin. “I won’t,” he said.
Gronevelt felt the glass wall baking the sunlight into his blood. “Cross,” he said, “I’ve taught you everything. We’ve done some hard things, really hard to do. Never look back. You know percentages work in different ways. Do as many good deeds as you can. That pays off too. I’m not talking about falling in love or indulging in hatred. Those are very bad percentage moves.”
They sipped coffee together. Gronevelt ate only a flaky strudel pastry. Cross had orange juice with his coffee.
“One thing,” Gronevelt said. “Don’t ever give a Villa to anyone who doesn’t make a million drop. Never forget that. The Villas are legendary. They are very important.”
Cross patted Gronevelt’s hand, let his hand rest on the old man’s. His affection was genuine. In some ways he loved Gronevelt more than his father.
“Don’t worry,” Cross said. “The Villas are sacred. Anything else?”
Gronevelt’s eyes were opaque, cataracts dimming their old fire. “Be careful,” he said. “Always be very careful.”
“I will,” Cross said. And then, to distract the old man from his coming death, he said, “When are you going to tell me about the great Santadio War? You worked with them then. Nobody ever talks about it.”
Gronevelt gave an old man’s sigh, barely a whisper, almost emotionless. “I know time’s getting short,” he said. “But I can’t talk to you yet. Ask your father.”
“I’ve asked Pippi,” Cross said. “But he won’t talk.”
“What’s past is past,” Gronevelt said. “Never go back. Not for excuses. Not for justification, not for happiness. You are what you are, the world is what it is.”

Customer Reviews

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The Last Don 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 42 reviews.
JCD2 More than 1 year ago
The Last Don is a prime example of a novel written by someone who knew his stuff.  Mario Puzo was well acquainted with organized crime, Las Vegas gaming and show business. He wove a story of the old don attempting to legitimize his family so they and their children would be captains of legal industries.  In addition to the family dynamics built on murder and old grudges, these Mafia members meet their equals in the men who run the casinos and Hollywood. A story well told. 
Italianstallion89 More than 1 year ago
Initially I choose this book because I am big fan of Mario Puzo. After I started to dig into this novel I was more intrigued page after page. With the twists and turns of a Romance novel combined with the even a more dramatic Mafia atmosphere. From the captivating love scenes of Athena and her troubles, to the fierce killing scenes of Cross and Dante. I gave this book three stars because at times it was very slow moving and stagnate. Although it had a lot of action and excitement, it was difficult to get through the long stretches where little was happening. Still a good story and a great read but it can never top Mario Puzo's number 1 The Godfather.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved loved this book. It is a great story and worth your time. You will not want to put it down Read this book!
YBKoz More than 1 year ago
Story is fast paced and doesn't stall in any chapters. It's another Puzo original/
Love2Write More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book from beginning to end. I could not put it down. A must read!
BrandonMcKay More than 1 year ago
The Last Don written by Mario Puzo ¿ review by Brandon McKay

Domencio Clericuzio is the Last Don, a wise and ruthless old man who is determined to see his heirs established in a legitimate society but whose vision is threatened when secrets from the family¿s past spark a feud between two blood cousins. The Don is the most powerful man of his time and if the Clericuzio Family was the holy church for the many Mafia families scattered over the U.S. then the head of the family, Don Domencio, was the Pope admired not only for his intelligence, but also for his strength. He was a devout catholic: payment for sins in this world, forgiveness in the next. Every debt had to paid, and he was strict in his judgment in this world. He controlled an empire so large and has enough money to the point were he hopes his dream of legitimacy will be brought to reality. But that¿s what dreams are for, to be torn apart. Croccifixo and Dante, the two cousins, both grow up hidden from the life of crime but inevitably, they uncover the secrets of the past.
The Last Don is a great story that takes readers inside the equally corrupt worlds of the Mafia, the movie industry, and casinos, where beautiful actresses and ruthless hitmen are ruled by lust, and violence. Where sleazy producers, and greedy studio heads are drunk with power, where crooked cops and desperate gamblers play dangerous games of betrayal, and where one man controls them all¿
Murder, extortion, jealousy, and romance, this book is full of it. I love the way Mario Puzo writes his stories; it¿s almost as if he lived the life of the Mob himself. If you read and like this book then you should also read the Godfather series, also by the same author.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book is long, but you will forget the length when you are sucked into the story. From West Coast to East Coast, this book is enthralling.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a very good book.Many years ago i read the masterful 'the goodfather'.a few years ago i also included,'the family',wich was not as good as this book.I plan on reading all of his books.The world lost a wonderful story teller in Mario Puzo.I gave the book only four stars because it was a bit dragged out at some spots...
bellamia on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've been trying to read this books for a couple of months. I have already read 2 of Mario Puzos books that I loved. This one so far is not up to par. I don't know if I'll go back to it but I'll try.
citygirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was just so horrible. So horrible in fact that I think it shouldn't have even been written. I've read nothing by Puzo but The Godfather and I should have stopped there. Here a NY crime boss plans decades in advance to have his family go legit. That plan involves using politicians and interests in Las Vegas to influence the legalization of gambling, but that's not really that important to the story. What is important is pointing out the obvious (the Mafia has moral code that's different from yours and mine, boys and girls) and making the broadest generalizations (insecure guys hate it when their women out-achieve them). His characters seem to be satirizing themselves without the author's knowledge. Members of the NY crime family come in The Sensitive One, The Psycho/Heir, The Scheming One, The Crazy Sister and The Dying Don. And in addition, we've got Hollywood characters too: Impossibly Beautiful Actress with a Secret, The Producer (the characters are so broadly written and the stereotype so well-distributed that it would be redundant to add more descriptors), The Soulless Lothario, The Savvy Screenwriter with a Heart of Gold and so on. The sex and the violence seem like the literary version of "phoned in." Why: Oh, why? Why? I was hanging around the hospice, had to be there for many hours at a time and I wasn't in the mood for my purse paperbacks, so I checked out the in-house book selection. Oh well. And yes, I finished it. And learned that Don knows best and psychos never prosper.The author: created the Corleones and kept writing anyway.I know, I know. Way too harsh. Well, I'm in a bad mood. :-(
Bandesz on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is definitely not the best Puzo novel, however it is also worth a shot. I found the first 200 pages rather slow, the second part of the book flows better. The characters are strong and easy to like/hate them , which is an important feature of this mafia novel genre. All in all an OK read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a fool i was believing all those stars
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Marvelous melodrama with the right elements, sex and violence, to grab modern readers in an age where celebrity tabloids reign. It will entertain anyone enticed by lurid tales of the rich and famous.
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