The Godfather

Mario Puzo

Illustrated by Robert Carter

Introduced by Jonathan Freedland

Mario Puzo’s brilliant and brutal story of Mafia feuds and retribution in post-war New York is published in a sensational new illustrated Folio Society edition, introduced by Jonathan Freedland.

Add To Wish List

The Godfather

Behind every successful fortune there is a crime

One of the best-selling books of all time, it is almost impossible to exaggerate the influence that Mario Puzo’s genre-defining novel has had on popular culture since its publication in 1969. From Francis Ford Coppola’s phenomenally successful film trilogy and a slew of deferential movies and television series, to gangland parlance and schoolyard banter, its legacy is multiple and global. This glorious new edition is packed with carefully considered design details that pay homage to Puzo’s epic story and its era. From the bleeding upside-down New York skyline on the binding to the series of dramatic tableaux and portraits by award-winning illustrator Robert Carter, and Jonathan Freedland’s new introduction, this is the edition that every Godfather aficionado has been waiting for.

‘When the gunfire and butchery has ceased, you yourself are left questioning to what limits you would go for your family’s protection.’

  1. Guardian

Production Details

Bound in screen-printed cloth

Set in Bembo with Trajan as display

480 pages

Frontispiece plus 11 colour illustrations, two of which are double-page spreads

Decorative part titles

Printed 2 colour throughout in black and red

Coloured tops

Ribbon marker

Pictorial slipcase

10˝ x 6¾˝

Jonathan Freedland introduces the first ever illustrated edition

In his newly commissioned introduction, Jonathan Freedland writes that The Godfather ‘will be read for as long as people are fascinated by family and power. Which is to say, forever’. A hugely successful thriller author who writes under the pseudonym Sam Bourne, Freedland’s passionate and expert critique of Puzo’s masterpiece is one of the many exclusive features that sets this collector’s edition apart.

The artwork is another: Robert Carter’s 12 striking illustrations take iconic scenes from the narrative and transform them into a contemporary gallery that includes two double-page spreads. The British-born conceptual artist’s frontispiece shows a crucial but cryptic plot detail, and the binding – a macabre New York skyline – foreshadows the blood-letting and anarchy. His slipcase artwork skillfully combines the binding motif and one of the most memorable images from the novel.

‘Illustrating one of the most beloved and famous novels of our time was intimidating but also exhilarating.’

  1. Robert Carter, illustrator

Puzo’s rocky road to literary success

A literary author by trade, Mario Puzo struggled to support his family on the meagre royalty cheques that his novels earned. The son of Italian immigrants living in Manhattan, Puzo grew up in the midst of Mafia strongholds, so penning a mass-market crime novel was an easy transition. The irresistible premise, combined with the author’s writing credentials, resulted in a substantial advance, and the book was an instant hit on publication. From the patriarchal hierarchy and Sicilian traditions to Mafia phrases such as ‘make his bones’ (a mafioso’s first kill), Puzo introduced the uninitiated into this thrilling underworld and laid the foundations for pretty much every Mafia media reference since. The film adaptation won three Academy Awards, while the sequel won six Awards and is widely regarded as one of the greatest films in world cinema.

The book that created a Mafia mythology

Vito Corleone is top dog among the notorious New York Mafia families: he is the Godfather. Operating behind the facade of an olive oil importing business, he rules his extortion and racketeering empire with an iron fist and absolute bonds of allegiance. But Vito’s reign is precarious and his unbending respect of tradition sees the usurpers circling like vultures. Is there time to induct his favourite son Michael as heir before his throne is toppled? Or will the Corleone family be crushed in the stampede for wealth and dominance by a new generation of mafiosi? A page-turning portrait of family loyalty, power and treachery, this gangster saga became every wannabe hoodlum’s manual, and it remains one of the best-loved and most successful novels of the 20th century.


Mario Gianluigi Puzo was born in 1920 in Manhattan into a poor family who had emigrated from Campania, Italy. After military service in Germany during the Second World War, he studied at the New School for Social Research and at Columbia University in New York, and wrote stories for men’s pulp magazines. His first two novels (published in 1955 and 1965) achieved critical acclaim but not financial success, and Puzo wanted to write something with popular appeal in order to support his family of five children. The result was The Godfather (1969), which sold 21 million copies worldwide. Together with its sequels, The Sicilian (1984) and Omertà (2000), The Godfather redefined the gangster genre and introduced terms like omertà and cosa nostra to a mass readership, although Puzo always insisted that he wrote ‘entirely from research’ and had no personal links to the Mafia. He later wrote the screenplays for the three Godfather movies, for which he won two Academy Awards. Puzo’s final work, The Family, was completed by his companion Carol Gino and published posthumously in 2001. Its subject was the notorious Borgias, ‘the original crime family’ who had provided inspiration for many ideas in his original Mafia novels.


Jonathan Freedland is an award-winning journalist, novelist and broadcaster. He has been a columnist for the Guardian since 1997 and was previously the paper’s Washington correspondent. He is also the presenter of BBC Radio 4’s contemporary history series The Long View, as well as contributing regularly to a range of US publications, including the New York Review of Books. In 2014 he was awarded the Orwell Special Prize for journalism. He is the author of 11 books, nine of them best-selling thrillers under the name Sam Bourne. The latest is To Kill a Man (Quercus, 2020).


Robert Carter (a.k.a. Cracked Hat) has been a professional illustrator since 2002. Born in St Albans, England, he moved to Ontario, Canada, at an early age, where he went on to study art and illustration at Sheridan College’s prestigious Faculty of Animation, Arts and Design. With a background in traditional oil painting, Carter applies these skills in the digital realm: digital painting is now his preferred working method. Carter has received the 2019 Patrick Nagel Award of Excellence from the Los Angeles Society of Illustrators and a Silver for Best in Illustration at the 2018 National Magazine Awards, and he was one of Creative Quarterly’s Best 100 of 2018, among other accolades. His work regularly appears in illustration annuals including Communication Arts, Applied Arts, 3x3 and Spectrum. Carter now lives and works in Waterloo, Ontario.


You May Also Like

  1. No Country for Old Men

    No Country for Old Men

    Cormac McCarthy

    Illustrated by Gérard DuBois


    Cormac McCarthy’s sparse and beautiful writing is perfectly mirrored by Gérard DuBois’s hauntingly understated images for this Folio Society edition of the Western thriller No Country for Old Men.

  2. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor

    Lee Child

    Illustrated by Oliver Barrett


    Folio presents the first illustrated edition of Lee Child’s phenomenally popular thriller, Killing Floor – thanks to artist Oliver Barrett, action hero Jack Reacher has never looked more formidable.

  3. Faceless Killers

    Faceless Killers

    Henning Mankell

    Illustrated by Morgan Schweitzer


    Henning Mankell’s Faceless Killers made detective Wallander a household name and catapulted Nordic noir into the mainstream. The first ever illustrated edition, with an introduction by Patti Smith, is a must-have for fans of the genre.