- "Saying yes, choosing to become a predatory criminal, sent him down one path. Saying no would have sent him down another, perhaps a family business his three sons would have been able to join without first becoming murderers. Vito was a skillful, intuitive mathematician, a brilliant assessor of probability, and a man of vision. Believing in something as irrational and unimaginative as destiny was out of character. It was beneath him. Still, what human being is above rationalizing the worst thing he ever did?"
The Godfather Returns (also known as The Godfather: The Lost Years) is a novel written by author Mark Winegardner, published in 2004. It is the sequel to Mario Puzo's The Godfather, which was originally published in 1969, and The Sicilian (1984).
As the original novel covered the years 1945 to 1955, and included significant backstory on Don Vito Corleone's life since childhood, Returns covers the years 1955 to 1962, and includes significant backstory on Michael Corleone's life prior to the first novel.
The story picks up immediately after the end of the first novel. The events of the second film take place within the time frame of this novel, but are only mentioned in the background. Many of Puzo's characters are expanded upon, especially Fredo Corleone, Tom Hagen, and Johnny Fontane, and new characters like Nick Geraci and Francesca Corleone are introduced. The other half of the novel goes deeper into Michael's role as Don and his dream of becoming legitimate. The novel expands on Michael's service in World War II as well as his brother Fredo's secret life. The novel shows how Sonny, Fredo and Tom Hagen join the family business, as well as the deaths of Peter Clemenza and Salvatore Tessio.
The Godfather Returns was followed by The Godfather's Revenge in 2006, also written by Winegardner.