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Mario Puzo was an Italian American author and screenwriter, best known for his novel and screenplay The Godfather (), which cover image of Omertà. Author: Mario Puzo. 34 downloads Views KB Size Report. DOWNLOAD EPUB The Sicilian: Omerta · Read more. Mario Puzo (author). +3 Where Who has a link to Mario Puzo's Omertà in PDF (English)?. Views How can I download a PDF version of GRB books?.

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Once again, Mario Puzo has created a masterful story of evil on an epic scale, Mario Puzo The Sicilian; BOOK I MICHAEL CORLEONE ; Chapter 1; BOOK II TURI Скачать эту книгу (k) в формате: fb2, lrf, epub, mobi, txt, html. Download Omerta by Mario PuzoType: ebook, book pdf, ePub. Publisher: Ballantine Books. Released: May, Page Count: Mario Puzo Omerta - Free download PDF files on the internet quickly and easily.

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Share This eBook:. Add to Wishlist. Instant Download. Description eBook Details Click on the cover image above to read some pages of this book! Industry Reviews "Here is all the classic material of Mafia mythology The Pretty Delicious Cafe Hungry for summer, romance, friends and food? A Thousand Paper Birds. Anything is Possible. Men Without Women Stories. The Trip of a Lifetime. Against All Odds.

Best Laid Plans. City of Friends. You never tried to plant evidence or encourage perjury against me. You have put most of my friends in prison, and you tried very hard to do the same to me. The Don nodded in appreciation.

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I have placed myself under the protection of your society. In return I will do my duty to that society. You can make it much easier if you do not pursue me. For there is no longer any need. I might get lucky. Your enormous success of the past few years influenced my decision. But the thing is, I know your prize informant, I know who he is. And I have told no one. And again, the Bureau decides, not me.

Allow me, because of my age, to tell you what I have learned. Do not exercise power because it is easy to your hand. And do not get carried away with a certainty of victory when your intellect tells you there is even a hint of tragedy. Let me say I regard you now as a friend, not an enemy, and think to yourself what you have to gain or lose by refusing this offer. So he gave generously to build a hospital for the poor. And he contributed to the arts.

He established a chair at Columbia University for the study of the Renaissance. It was true that Yale and Harvard refused his twenty million dollars for a dormitory to be named for Christopher Columbus, who was at the time in disrepute in intellectual circles.

Yale did offer to take the money and name the dorm after Sacco and Vanzetti, but the Don was not interested in Sacco and He despised martyrs. A lesser man would have felt insulted and nursed a grievance, but not Raymonde Aprile. Instead, he simply gave the money to the Catholic Church for daily masses to be sung for his wife, now twenty- five years in Heaven.

He donated a million dollars to the New York Police Benevolent Association and another million to a society for the protection of illegal immigrants. For the three years after his retirement, he showered his blessings on the world.

His purse was open to any request except for one. It is astonishing how three years of good deeds and generosity can almost wipe out a thirty-year reputation of merciless acts. But great men also buy their own goodwill, self-forgetfulness and forgiveness of betraying friends and exercising lethal judgment. And the Don too had this universal weakness. For Don Raymonde Aprile was a man who had lived by the strict rules of his own particular morality. His protocol had made him respected for over thirty years and generated the extraordinary fear that had been the base of his power.

A chief tenet of that protocol was a complete lack of mercy. This sprang not from innate cruelty, some psychopathic desire to inflict pain, but from an absolute conviction: Even Lucifer, the angel, had defied God and had been flung from the heavens. So an ambitious man struggling for power had no other recourse. That was only reasonable. But if all that failed, there was only the punishment of death. Never threats of other forms of punishment that might inspire retaliation.

Simply a banishment from this earthly sphere, no more to be reckoned with. Treachery was the greatest injury. For there are many brave, proud men willing to gamble their lives for their own gain, but they would think twice about risking their loved ones.

And so in this way Don Aprile generated a vast amount of terror. He relied on his generosity in worldly goods to win their less necessary love. But it must be said, he was as merciless to himself. Possessed of enormous power, he could not prevent the death of his young wife after she had given him three children.

She died a slow and horrible death from cancer as he watched over her for six months. During that time he came to believe that she was being punished for all the mortal sins he had committed, and so it was that he decreed his own penance: He would never remarry. He would send his children away to be educated in the ways of lawful society, so they would not grow up in his world so full of hate and danger. He would help them find their way, but they would never be involved in his activities.

With great sadness he resolved that he would never know the true essence of fatherhood. So the Don arranged to have Nicole, Valerius, and Marcantonio sent to private boarding schools. He They came home for the holidays, when he played the role of a caring but distant father, but they never became part of his world.

And yet despite everything and though they were aware of his reputation, his children loved him. They never talked about it among themselves. It was one of those family secrets that was not a secret.

No one could call the Don sentimental. He had very few personal friends, no pets, and he avoided holiday and social gatherings as much as possible. Only once, many years before, he had committed an act of compassion that astounded his colleagues in America. Don Aprile, when he returned from Sicily with the child, Astorre, found his beloved wife dying of cancer and his own three children desolate. Not wanting to keep the impressionable infant in such a circumstance for fear it would harm him in some way, the Don decided to place him in the care of one of his closest advisors, a man named Frank Viola, and his wife.

This proved to be an unwise choice. At the time, Frank Viola had ambitions to succeed the Don. It was then that the Don had taken Astorre into his household and assumed the title of uncle. When Astorre was old enough to begin asking about his parents, Don Raymonde told him that he had been orphaned. But Astorre was a curious and tenacious young boy, so the Don, to put an end to all his questions, told him that his parents had been peasants, unable to feed him, and had died, unknown, in a small Sicilian village.

Don Raymonde was a farseeing man and knew that his success could not last forever—it was too treacherous a world. From the beginning he planned to switch sides, to join the safety of organized society. Not that he was truly conscious of his purpose, but great men have an instinct for what the future will demand.

And in this case, truly, he acted out of compassion. For Astorre Viola, at the age of three, could have made no impression, could have given no hint of what he would later become as a man.

Or how important a part he would play in the Family. The Don understood that the glory of America was the emergence of great families, and that the best social class sprang from men who had at first committed great crimes against that society.

It was such men who in the search for fortune had also built America and left evil deeds to crumble into forgotten dust. How else could it be done?

Leave the Great Plains of America to those Indians who could not conceive of a three-story dwelling? Leave California to Mexicans who had no technical ability, no vision of great aqueducts to feed water to lands that would allow millions to enjoy a prosperous life?

America had the genius to attract millions of laboring poor from all over the world, to entice them to the necessary hard work of building the railroads, the dams, and the sky-scratching buildings. Ah, the Statue of Liberty had been a stroke of promotional genius. And had it not turned out for the best? Certainly there had been tragedies, but that was part of life. Was not America the greatest cornucopia the world had ever known? Was not a measure of injustice a small price to pay?

It has always been the case that individuals must sacrifice to further the advance of civilization and their particular society. But there is another definition of a great man.

Primarily that he does not accept that burden. In some way, criminal, immoral, or by sheer cunning, he will ride the crest of that wave of human progress without sacrifice.

Don Raymonde Aprile was such a man. He generated his own individual power by his intelligence and by his complete lack of mercy. He generated fear; he became a legend. But his children, when they were grown, never believed in the most atrocious stories. There was the legend of the beginning of his rule as Family chief. The Don controlled a construction company run by a subordinate, Tommy Liotti, whom the Don had made rich at an early age with city building contracts.

The man was handsome, witty, a thorough charmer, and the Don always enjoyed his company. He had only one fault: He drank to excess. This led to some unfortunate incidents. He accepted her barbs well enough when he was sober, but when drunk he would slap her face hard enough to make her bite her tongue. It was also unfortunate that the husband had a massive strength, due to working hard and long on construction sites during his youth. Indeed, he always wore short-sleeved shirts to display his magnificent forearms and his great biceps.

Sadly, the incidents escalated over a period of two years. Such things could never be solved. If the husband had killed the wife, he would not have been concerned. But the beatings posed a danger to his business relationship. An enraged wife could make certain testimonies, give damaging information. For the husband kept large quantities of cash in his house for those incidental bribes so necessary to the fulfillment of city contracts. So Don Aprile summoned the husband. He advised the man to kill his wife outright or divorce her or never to ill-treat her further.

The husband assured him it would never happen again. But the Don was mistrustful. He considered this one of the great mysteries of life, that a man will do what he feels like doing with no regard to the cost. Great men have allied themselves with the angels at a terrible price to themselves.

Evil men indulge their slightest whim for small satisfactions while accepting the fate of burning in Hell. And so it turned out with Tommy Liotti. Despite the warning from the Don, despite his love for his children and his wife, Tommy beat her in the most violent fashion. She ended up in the hospital with broken ribs and a punctured lung. Then he talked his wife into coming back to him.

Don Aprile observed this with some anger and regretfully took charge of the affair. First, he attended to the practical aspects of the matter. She would be a rich widow. Then he sent out a special team with specific instructions. Within the week the judge received a long box wrapped in ribbons, and in it, like a pair of expensive long silk gloves, were the two massive forearms of the husband, one wearing on its wrist the expensive Rolex watch the Don had given him years before as a token of his esteem.

The next day the rest of the body was found floating in the water around the Verrazano Bridge. Another legend was chilling because of its ambiguity, like some childish ghost story. The writer had great fun with their innocence, their preppy clothes, their juvenile idealism about how to make a better world. The piece became famous, circulated in newsrooms throughout the country even before publication.

It was the kind of success a writer dreams about. Everybody loved it. The journalist was a nature lover, and every year he took his wife and two children to a cabin in upstate New York for hunting and fishing and living simply.

They were there one long Thanksgiving weekend. On Saturday the cabin, ten miles from the nearest town, caught fire. There was no rescue for about two hours. By then the house had burned to smoking logs and the journalist and his family were merely charred and brittle sticks. There was an enormous outcry and a massive investigation, but no evidence of foul play could be found. The conclusion was that the family had been overcome by smoke before they could escape.

Then a curious thing happened. A few months after the tragedy, whispers and rumors began to circulate. Anonymous tips came in to the FBI, the police, the press. They all suggested that the fire was an act of vengeance by the infamous Don Aprile. The press, hot for a story, clamored for the case to be reopened.

It was, but again there was no indictment. But that was the general public; the authorities were satisfied, in this instance, that the Don was beyond reproach. Everybody knew journalists were exempt from any retaliation. You would have to kill thousands, so what was the point? The Don was too intelligent to take such a risk. Still, the legend never died. Some FBI teams even thought the Don himself had inspired the rumors to fulfill his And so it grew.

But there was another side to the Don: If you served him loyally, you became rich and had a formidable protector in times of travail. The rewards given by the Don were enormous but the punishments final.

That was his legend. After his meetings with Portella and Cilke, Don Aprile had details to tidy up. He set in motion the machinery to bring Astorre Viola back home after his eleven-year exile.

He needed Astorre, indeed had prepared him for this moment. As a child Astorre was always a leader, precocious in his sociability. He loved the Don, and he did not fear him as his own children sometimes did.

And though Valerius and Marcantonio were twenty and eighteen years old, when Astorre was ten, he established his independence from them. Indeed, when Valerius, somewhat of a military martinet, tried to chastise him, he fought back.

Marcantonio was much more affectionate to him and bought him his first banjo to encourage his singing. Astorre accepted this as the courtesy of one adult to another. The only one Astorre took orders from was Nicole. And though she was two years older, she treated him as a suitor, as he demanded even as a small boy. She made him run her errands and listened soulfully to the Italian ballads he sang her. And she slapped his face when he tried to kiss her.

For even as a small boy, Astorre was enraptured by feminine beauty. And Nicole was beautiful. She had large dark eyes and a sensual smile; her face revealed every emotion she felt. She challenged anyone who tried to insinuate that as a female she was not as important as any man in her world. She hated the fact that she was not as physically strong as her brothers and Astorre, that she could not assert her will by force but only by her beauty.

All this made her absolutely fearless, and she taunted them all, even her father, despite his dread reputation. He loved the life in his native village, near the town of Montelepre, and he still owned property there, a house that had been the country retreat of a count, called Villa Grazia.

After a few years he hired a housekeeper, a Sicilian widow named Caterina. She was a very handsome woman, strong with a rich peasant beauty and a keen sense of how to run a property and command respect from the villagers. She became his mistress. All of this he kept secret from his family and friends, though now he was a man of forty and a king in his world. The Don had been requested to mediate a great conflict between the Corleonesi cosca and the Clericuzio cosca.

And it was also his pleasure to spend a quiet month of tranquillity at Villa Grazia. Astorre, at ten, was affable—there was no other word. He was always cheerful, and his handsome round face with its olive skin radiated love. He continually sang in a sweet tenor voice. And when he was not singing, he offered lively conversation.

Yet he had the fiery qualities of a born rebel, and he terrorized the other boys his age. The Don brought him to Sicily because he was the best of company for a middle-aged man, which was a curious commentary on both, as well as a reflection on how the Don had brought up his own three children.

Once the Don settled his business affairs, he mediated the dispute and brought about temporary peace. Now he enjoyed his days reliving his childhood in his native village. He ate lemons, oranges, and olives from their briny barrels, and he took long walks with Astorre under the sullen deadly light of the Sicilian sun that reflected all the stone houses and countless rocks with a stunning heat.

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He told the small boy long-ago stories of the Robin Hoods of Sicily, their fights against the Moors, the French, the Spaniards, the pope himself. And tales of a local hero, the Great Don Zeno. At night, together on the terrace of the Villa Grazia, they watched the azure sky of Sicily lit with a thousand shooting stars and the flashes of lightning hurling through the mountains just a short distance away.

Astorre picked up the Sicilian dialect immediately and ate the black olives from the barrel as if they were bits of candy. In just a few days Astorre established his leadership in a gang of young village boys. It was a wonder to the Don that he could do so, for Sicilian children were full of pride and feared no one.

Many of these ten-year-old cherubs were already familiar with the lupara, the ever-present Sicilian shotgun. Don Aprile, Astorre, and Caterina spent long summer nights eating and drinking alfresco in the luxuriant garden, the orange and lemon trees saturating the air with their citrus perfume. Sometimes old boyhood friends of the Don were invited to dinner and a game of cards.

Astorre helped Caterina serve them drinks. Caterina and the Don never showed public signs of affection, but all was understood in the village, so no man dared to present any gallantries to Caterina and all showed her the respect the female head of the house was due.

No time in his life was more pleasant to the Don. It was just three days before the end of the visit that the unimaginable happened: The Don was kidnapped while walking the streets of the village. In the neighboring province of Cinesi, one of the most remote and undeveloped in Sicily, the head of the village cosca, the local Mafioso, was a ferocious, fearless bandit by the name of Fissolini.

Absolute in his local power, he really had no communication with the rest of the Mafia coscas on the island. He decided to kidnap the Don and hold him for ransom. The only rule he knew he was breaking was that he was encroaching onto the territory of the neighboring cosca, but the American seemed a rich enough prize to warrant the risk.

The cosca is the basic unit of what is called the Mafia and is usually composed of blood relatives. Law-abiding citizens such as lawyers or doctors attach themselves to a cosca for protection of their interests.

Each cosca is an organization in and of itself but may ally itself to a stronger and more powerful one. It is this interlinking that is commonly called the Mafia.

But there is no overall chief or commander. A cosca usually majors in a particular racket in its particular territory. There is the cosca that controls the price of water and prevents the central government from building dams to lower the price. Another cosca will control the food and produce markets. The most powerful ones in Sicily at this time were the Clericuzio cosca of Palermo, which controlled the new construction in all of Sicily, and the Corleonesi cosca of Corleone, which controlled the politicians in Rome and engineered the transportation of drugs all over the world.

Then there were the piddling coscas who demanded tribute from romantic youths to sing to the balconies of their beloveds. All coscas regulated crime. They would not tolerate lazy good-for-nothings burglarizing innocent citizens who paid their cosca dues. Those who stabbed for wallets or raped women were summarily punished by death. Also, there was no tolerance of adultery within the coscas. Both men and women were executed.

That was understood. And so it was that Don Aprile and little Astorre, strolling along the streets of their village, were picked up in two vintage American army trucks by the ignorant Fissolini and his band of men. The ten men in peasant clothes were armed with rifles. They plucked Don Aprile off the ground and threw him into the first truck. Astorre, without hesitation, jumped into the open bed of the truck to stay with the Don.

The bandits tried to throw him out, but he clung to the wooden posts. The trucks traveled an hour to the base of the mountains around Montelepre. Then everyone switched to horseback and donkey and climbed the rocky terraces toward the horizon. Throughout the trip, the boy observed everything with large green eyes but never spoke a word. Near sunset, they reached a cave set deep in the mountains.

There they were fed a supper of grilled lamb and homemade bread and wine. On the campsite was a huge statue of the Virgin Mary enclosed in a hand-carved dark wooden shrine. Fissolini was devout in spite of his ferocity. He also had a natural peasant courtesy and presented himself to the Don and the boy. There was no doubt he was chief of the band. He was short and built powerfully as a gorilla, and he carried a rifle and two guns on his body belt. His face was as stony as Sicily, but there was a merry twinkle in his eyes.

He enjoyed life and its little jokes, especially that he held in his power a rich American worth his weight in gold. And yet there was no malice in him. He will carry the ransom note to town tomorrow morning. He had never tasted anything so delicious as this grilled lamb.

But he finally spoke up with cheerful bravery. Fissolini laughed. To show my respect for His Excellency I prepared this meal myself. I look forward to the fresh dew in the country. But then I advise you to bring me back to my village. But are you that powerful?

I am only going to ask for one hundred thousand dollars in American money. Double it. And another fifty for the boy. It will be paid. But then your life will be an eternal misery. Certainly I can take what I want in my province, but Sicily is such a cursed country that the rich are too poor to support men like myself. You must understand that you are the chance to make my fortune. But I will follow your advice and ask double. Though I feel a little guilty about that.

No human is worth so much. And I will let the boy go free. I have a weakness for children—I have four of my own whose mouths I must feed. Fissolini shook his head. I have a reputation to keep.

I will not be known as a kidnapper of children. Because after all, Your Excellency, though I have the utmost respect, I will have to send you back piece by piece if they do not pay. But if they do, I give you the word of honor of Pietro Fissolini, not a hair of your mustache will be touched.

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Nephew, sing one of your songs for these gentlemen. Blankets and sleeping bags were brought out of a nearby cave. Some fish, fresh from the water perhaps? Then some spaghetti and veal for lunch? We are at your service. Astorre slept so soundly that the rising cinder-red sun was over his head when a clatter awoke him. He rose and saw that the hollow was filled with fifty armed men.

Omerta by Mario Puzo

Don Aprile, gentle, calm, and dignified, was sitting on a great ledge of stone, sipping from a mug of coffee. Don Aprile saw Astorre and beckoned to him. He has rescued us. He had a curly head of white hair and large pink eyes, and he radiated power. But he seemed to blanket that power when he spoke with a soft, gravelly voice.

But I came as soon as I got the news. I always knew Fissolini was a dunce, but I never expected him to do this. He saw two young boys, nailing together a cross. Then, lying on the far side of the hollow, he saw Fissolini and his ten bandits trussed on the ground and tethered to trees.

They were encased by a web of wire and rope, their limbs entwined. They looked like a mound of flies on a lump of meat. Bianco and one of his soldiers lifted him and forced him to stand. Did you think you were just borrowing a flask of oil? Some vinegar? Have I ever entered your province? But you were always headstrong, and I knew you would come to grief. Well, since like Jesus you must hang from the cross, make your apologies to Don Aprile and his little boy.

And I will give you mercy and shoot you before we hammer in the nails. I did not know how important and dear you were to my friends. That fool, Bianco, might have kept me fully informed. Excellency, I have made a mistake and I must pay. They followed my orders.

They have families. You will destroy an entire village if you kill them. Fissolini gave him a questioning look, at once proud and wary. But those ten men lying there are all in my blood family. If you kill them, you destroy their wives and their children. Three of them are my sons-in-law. They had absolute faith in me. They trusted my judgment. If you let them go, I would make them swear their undying loyalty to you before I die.

And they will obey me. That is something, to have ten loyal friends.

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That is not nothing. I am told you are a great man, but you cannot be truly great if you do not show mercy. For Don Raymonde Aprile this was a familiar moment, and he was in no doubt as to his decision. He had always distrusted the power of gratitude, and he believed that no one could direct the influence of free will in any man, except by death.

He regarded Fissolini impassively and shook his head. Bianco moved forward. Astorre strode to his uncle and looked him square in the eyes. He had understood everything. He put out his hand to protect Fissolini. He wanted the money to feed his family. And I like him. Please, Uncle. And for the first time in many years the Don felt the urge to show mercy. One of the men came forward and from his hunting jacket took out a fresh cigar and offered it to the Don. The Don took the cigar, and the man lit it for him within cupped hands.

But I will offer you a business arrangement. I recognize you had no malice and you showed the utmost regard for my person and the boy. So this is the arrangement. You live. Your comrades live.

But for the rest of your lives, you will be at my command. Astorre felt an enormous relief, and he smiled at Fissolini. Astorre noticed that the surrounding armed men puffed furiously on their cigars, and even Bianco, grand as a mountain, trembled with pleasure. Bianco came to save me, and you are expected to do the same duty. I pay him a sum of money, and I will do the same for you every year.

But one act of disloyalty and you and your world will be destroyed. You, your wife, your children, your nephews, your sons-in-law will cease to exist.

He embraced the Don and burst into tears. And so it was that the Don and his nephew became most formally united.


The Don loved the boy for persuading him to show mercy, and Astorre loved his uncle for giving him the lives of Fissolini and his ten men. It was a bond that lasted the rest of their lives. The last night in Villa Grazia, Don Aprile had espresso in the garden and Astorre ate olives from their barrel. Astorre was very pensive, not his usual sociable self. He put the pits of his olives in his pocket.

Astorre looked at him like a wise old friend, his youthful face troubled. The Don laughed. Astorre thought about this. Astorre was very grave now. Omerta had been bred into his genes. Late that night, alone, Astorre went to the far corner of the garden and dug a hole with his bare hands. In that hole he put the olive pits he had secreted in his pocket.

He looked up at the pale night blue of the Sicilian sky and dreamed of himself as an old man like his uncle, sitting in this garden on a similar night, watching his olive trees grow.

After that, everything was fate, the Don believed. He and Astorre made the yearly trip to Sicily until Astorre was sixteen. It was his daughter who created the crisis that moved Astorre into that destiny. At the age of eighteen, two years older than Astorre, Nicole fell in love with him and with her fiery temperament did little to conceal the fact.

She completely overwhelmed the susceptible boy. They became intimate with all the hot furiousness of youth. The Don could not allow this, but he was a general who adjusted his tactics to the terrain. He never gave any hint he knew of the affair. One night he called Astorre into his den and told him he would be sent to England for his schooling and to serve an apprenticeship in banking with a certain Mr.

Pryor of London. He did not give any further reason, knowing the boy would realize he was being sent away to end the affair. But he had not reckoned with his daughter, who had listened outside the door. She came storming into the room, her passionate outrage making her even more beautiful. It would be hard for any father not to be moved by such a scene, but the Don was amused. His daughter was splendid, truly Mafioso in the old sense, a prize in any form.

Despite that, for weeks afterward she refused to speak to her father and locked herself away in her room. But the Don did not fear she would be brokenhearted forever. It amused him even more to see Astorre in the trap of all maturing adolescents.

Certainly Astorre loved Nicole. And certainly her passion and her devotion made him feel like the most important person on earth. Any young man can be seduced by such attention.

But just as certainly, the Don understood that Astorre wanted an excuse to be free of any encumbrance on his march to the glories of life. The Don smiled. The boy had all the right instincts, and it was time for his real schooling.

So now, three years after his retirement, Don Raymonde Aprile felt the security and satisfaction of a man who has made the right choices in life. Indeed the Don felt so secure that he began to develop a closer relationship with his children, finally enjoying the fruits of fatherhood—to some degree. Because Valerius had spent most of the last twenty years in foreign army posts, he had never been close to his father. Now that he was stationed at West Point, the two men saw each other more often and began to speak more openly.

Yet it was difficult. With Marcantonio, it was different. The Don and his second son enjoyed some kind of rapport. Marcantonio explained his work in TV, his excitement over the dramatic process, his duty to his viewers, his desire to make the world a better place. The lives of such people were like fairy tales to the Don. He was fascinated by them.

Over family dinners, Marcantonio and his father could quarrel in a friendly way for the entertainment of the others. We have to give it to them. But to all of this the Don just shrugged. These conflicts were refinements in power that did not interest him.

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What is the deciding factor? There are the great battles, some lost, some won. When I worked in intelligence, and we analyzed everything, it comes to this: The country that produces the most steel wins the war, simply that.

His warmest and most intense relationship was with Nicole. He was proud of her accomplishments, her physical beauty, her passionate nature, and her intelligence. And, true, young as she was, just thirty-two, she was a powerful up-and-coming lawyer with good political connections, and she had no fear of anyone in a suit who represented entrenched power.

Here the Don had helped her secretly; her law firm was deeply indebted to him. But her brothers were wary of her for two reasons: Despite his admiration for her, the Don could never take Nicole seriously in the world. She was, after all, a woman. And one with troubling taste in men. At family dinners the father and daughter argued constantly, like two great cats frolicking dangerously, occasionally drawing blood.

Nicole believed in the sacredness of human life, that capital punishment was an abomination. She had organized and led the Campaign Against the Death Penalty. And Nicole would become infuriated all over again.

Because she believed capital punishment would eventually destroy humanity. That if killing was condoned under any circumstances, then it could be Eventually, it would not serve evolution or civilization. And believing that brought her into constant conflict with her brother Valerius. After all, what else did the army do? Killing was killing and would set us all back to cannibalism or worse. At every opportunity, Nicole fought in courts all over the country to save condemned murderers.

Although the Don considered this the sheerest nonsense, he nonetheless proposed a toast to her at a family dinner following her victory in a famous pro bono case. In his getaway, he had executed two gas station attendants while he robbed them. He had gone on to rape and murder a ten-year-old girl.

His career was brought to a close only when he attempted to kill two policemen in their cruiser. Nicole had won the case on grounds of insanity, and on the assurance that he would live the rest of his life in an institution for the criminally insane without the hope of release. The next family dinner was a celebration to honor Nicole for winning another case—this time her own.

In a recent trial she had championed a difficult principle of law at great personal risk. And she had been brought before the Bar Association for unethical practice and had been acquitted. Now she was exuberant. The Don, in a cheerful mood, showed an uncharacteristic interest in this case. He congratulated his daughter on the acquittal but was somewhat confused, or pretended to be, by the circumstances. Nicole had to explain it to him. She had defended a man, thirty years of age, who had raped, sodomized, and killed a twelve-year-old girl, then secretly hidden her body so that it could not be found by the police.

Circumstantial evidence against him had been strong, but without a corpus, the jury and judge would be reluctant to give him the death penalty.

The parents of the victim were in anguish in their frustrated desire to find the body. However, when Nicole opened negotiations with the prosecutor, she was faced with a threat of prosecution herself if she did not immediately reveal the whereabouts of the body. She believed it mattered to society to protect the confidentiality between attorney and client. Therefore, she refused, and a prominent judge declared her in the right.

The prosecutor, after consulting with the parents of the victim, finally consented to the deal. The murderer told them that he had dismembered the body, placed it in a box filled with ice, and buried it in a nearby marshland in New Jersey.

And so the body was found and the murderer sentenced to life imprisonment. But then the Bar Association brought her up on charges of unethical negotiation. And today she had won her acquittal. But unfortunately, in order to set precedents for future law sacrifices have to be made. So my trial diffused everything.

Some very prominent judge had to go public and explain that I had the right under the Constitution to refuse to give that information. But only to lawyers, of course. It is true that each criminal gets less punishment than he deserves. Forgiveness heals. And in the long run, those who commit crimes against our society will be more easily rehabilitated. After all, he did exercise his free will. He was a tall man, forty years of age with a bristly short mustache and hair already turning to steel gray.

As an intelligence officer, he had himself made decisions that overlooked human morality. He was interested in her reasoning. He was more worried that she would say something rash, something that her father could never forgive her for.

He remembered their lovemaking as teenagers and felt her still obvious affection for him. But now he was transformed, no longer what he was when they were lovers. He wondered if her brothers knew about that long-ago affair. And he too worried that a quarrel would break the bonds of family, a family that he loved, that was his only refuge. He hoped Nicole would not go too far. But he had no sympathy for her views. His years in Sicily had taught him differently.

But it amazed him that the two people he cared most about in the world could be so different. And it occurred to him that even if she were right, he could never side So of course I believe it. The state has no right to take it.