For as long as it has gripped our imaginations, the Mafia has been tied to an ingrained image of masculinity. We read about “made men,” “wiseguys,” and “goodfellas” leading criminal organizations whose culture prizes machismo, with women as ancillary and often-powerless characters: trivialized mistresses and long-suffering mob wives. The reality is far more complex.
In The Godmother, investigative journalist Barbie Latza Nadeau tells the stories of the women who have risen to prominence, and fallen out of favor, in the Italian mob, beginning with the most infamous of these women: Pupetta Maresca. A Mafia woman born and raised, Pupetta avenged her husband’s murder, firing 29 shots at the man who killed him.
Woven throughout Pupetta’s story is Nadeau’s diligent research, and her personal interviews with the Mafia women themselves. Nadeau takes readers inside the Mafia families to paint a complete and complex portrait of the real culture that has shaped the Mafia, and the women who are part of it.
Leaving behind the stereotypes we know from Mafia movies, The Godmother shows the Mafia in an entirely new light: full-fledged, ruthless, twenty-first-century criminal enterprises led by whoever is strong enough and smart enough to take control.