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Aging Mafia Don Salvatore Padronelli, a.k.a. the Padre, is furious when fanatical terrorists capture his beloved daughter and grandson on a trip to Egypt. Fed up with diplomatic caution that prolongs their captivity, the Padre and his loyal henchman cleverly insinuate themselves into the White House and hold the President and his wife hostage. Now the Padre calls the shots on getting the President to take steps to release his family. This classic confrontation between two men on utterly opposite sides of the law is laced with humor and illustrates how fierce paternal love can motivate even the most ruthless of gangsters into reckless acts of courage and bravery.
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How The Godfather Influenced My Novel
I have long been a fan of Mario Puzo's The Godfather ever since we attended Don Wolfe's creative writing course in the New School years ago. Mario was more than ten years my senior, a World War II veteran, while I was a twenty-year-old college graduate who took Dr. Wolfe's freshman English course at NYU, inspiring me to devote my life to writing.
The class met once a week, but a few of us from the class were chosen by our classmate Harold Applebaum, who was a published poet that frequently appeared in The New York Times, to meet periodically in our homes to read our work and generally socialize. Mario and I were among some of the select few; we liked to think that Harold had chosen us because he deemed our work as reflecting superior talent. We were flattered of course, although in retrospect, many of the students in that class were extraordinarily talented. I think there were about six of us among Harold's chosen, all determined writers hoping to make our mark and who were all flattered by Harold's attention.
Years later when The Godfather was published, I was quick to purchase the book and gobbled it up with relish. I thought the book was wonderful. When it hit the silver screen its impact was extraordinary and spawned a giant career for my fellow classmate.
I can trace a direct line from The Godfather to my characters in We Are Holding the President Hostage. Another influence was the fact that I had grown up in Brownsville, Brooklyn, in the neighborhood that was the headquarters of Murder Inc. and had observed in person many of the gangsters who were part of that era.
Another influence of mine was the fact that I had become familiar with the White House and its inner workings, having been a consultant to the Nixon White House with a blue pass that gave me access. Although there was tight security in those days it was far more lenient than it is today.
It was also a time when hostage taking was just beginning to show its ugly face and the news was filled with incidents in which the taking of a hostage was becoming a political act of choice. For me, it was a question of connecting the dots. I was able to imagine a story where a group of mafia characters, one of whose daughters was taken hostage in Egypt, were able to infiltrate the White House with the express purpose of persuading the president to use mafia tactics to deal with the hostage taking.
The Godfather will always have a special place in my heart, being one of the major influences that sparked We Are Holding the President Hostage, including my political experience and the events going on around me during the 1980s. But it really comes down to my relationship with Harold and Mario. If I had never known them, then perhaps the course of events wouldn't have played out the way they did and the idea for my book never would have materialized.
Warren Adler is best known for The War of the Roses, his masterpiece fictionalization of a macabre divorce turned into the Golden Globe and BAFTA nominated dark comedy hit starring Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito. In addition to the success of the stage adaptation of his iconic novel on the perils of divorce, Adler has optioned and sold film rights to more than a dozen of his novels and short stories to Hollywood and major television networks. Random Hearts (starring Harrison Ford and Kristen Scott Thomas), The Sunset Gang (starring Jerry Stiller, Uta Hagen, Harold Gould and Doris Roberts), Private Lies, Funny Boys, Madeline's Miracles, Trans-Siberian Express and his Fiona Fitzgerald mystery series are only a few titles that have forever left Adler's mark on contemporary American authorship from page to stage to screen. Learn more at warrenadler.com.
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