|Subject||True crime, biography, Henry Hill, Mafia, criminals, case studies|
|Genre||Biography, case studies|
|Publisher||Simon & Schuster|
|Media type||Print (hardcover & paperback), eBook, audio cassette, audio CD, Audible Audio Edition, Amazon Kindle|
|Pages||256 pp (hardcover)|
Wiseguy: Life in a Mafia Family (ISBN 0-671-44734-3) is a 1986 non-fiction book by crime reporter Nicholas Pileggi that chronicles the story of Mafia mobster-turned-informant Henry Hill. The book is the basis for the 1990 Academy Award-winning film Goodfellas directed by Martin Scorsese.
Henry Hill began his life of crime at age 11 in 1955 by working as a go-fer for Paul Vario, the local boss of Hill's working class Irish/Italian neighborhood. Eventually Hill was "promoted" to selling stolen cigarettes for Vario. Henry was first arrested in 1959 for using stolen credit cards. Hill refused to cooperate with the police, earning the respect of Vario and Vario's associate Jimmy Burke.
In 1960, when Hill was 17, he enlisted in the United States Army, to everyone's surprise. When questioned about his decision by Vario, Hill explained that he wanted to please his father, who disapproved of his son's association with the Mafia. While stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, however, Hill continued his criminal activities, which led to his discharge in 1963. He returned to the streets of New York, where he was happily welcomed back by Vario and Burke. In 1964, Hill met Tommy DeSimone, a young aspiring gangster with psychopathic tendencies, and both worked as stick-up men for Vario, hijacking trucks and selling the stolen goods on the street. In 1965 Hill reluctantly joined Lenny Vario, Paul Vario's son, on a double date, where he met Karen Friedman, a young Jewish girl from the Five Towns section of New York. The two continued to date and eloped only four months after meeting. They had their first child, Gregg, in 1966, and a second, Gina, in 1968.
In 1967, Jimmy Burke masterminded a robbery of the Air France cargo terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport. The heist was carried out by Hill, DeSimone, Robert "Frenchy" McMahon, and Montague Montemurro in April of that year.
In 1969, Hill began an affair with Linda Coppociano behind Karen's back, and bought a restaurant/lounge called The Suite. It was here that on June 11, 1970, Burke and DeSimone murdered William "Billy Batts" Devino, a made man with the Gambino crime family and a close friend of fellow mobster John Gotti.