Wiseguy | Study Guide

Nicholas Pileggi

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Course Hero. "Wiseguy Study Guide." Course Hero. 23 June 2017. Web. 13 Nov. 2018. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Wiseguy/>.

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Course Hero. "Wiseguy Study Guide." June 23, 2017. Accessed November 13, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Wiseguy/.


Course Hero, "Wiseguy Study Guide," June 23, 2017, accessed November 13, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Wiseguy/.

Wiseguy | Chapter 9 | Summary



The FBI descends on the Air France cargo building when the heist is discovered a few days later. By that time, Hill has already given away $120,000 as a "tribute" to the mob chiefs who consider the airport their turf. Hill considers it insurance and protection. He also buys a new car after pretending to win money in Las Vegas and is soon propositioned for a new venture in the bookmaking business. Hill's job is to tab the bets by keeping track of all the day's actions in sports and horse racing. He works alongside Milty Wekar, who pays off the Borough Command and the Division to leave them alone. The cops still seem to always know their location, even though it changes weekly. Hill and Wekar discover the cops have been following the old man who rents their locations for them. Hill is finally arrested when the cops bust in, but they only go through the motions, and Hill is back in action the next day. Eventually, he is fined $100, and Hill realizes the cops don't want to put bookmakers out of business because they depend on them to run their own bets.

Hill encounters another business opportunity to take over The Suite supper club in order to help the owner with his loan-shark debts. Karen is excited Hill seems to be investing in a legitimate business now that they have two young daughters. Vario instructs Hill to keep the place "clean"—no illegal activities—and Hill hires a staff of cooks and bartenders. After a few months, however, wiseguys start showing up to spend time there, and it becomes a gathering place for all of Hill's friends. They all eat and drink for free, which causes Hill to lose money. He returns to selling stolen airline tickets and making money off of gambling games, feeling running The Suite only makes his life crazier. In addition, Karen begins getting obscene phone calls at their home, and Hill gets distracted trying to figure out who it is. He has Karen suggest the man meet her. Hill waits in hiding, and, when the man's car slows down, he pulls a gun on him and assaults him. The cops are called, and it turns out it is the wrong man. Hill is arrested, and let out on bail.


Hill's decision to give a portion of his Air France heist to the airport's mob chiefs demonstrates how integral hierarchy and respect are to the Mafia's organized crime ring. No rulebook lays out codes of conduct or handbook explains the consequences of not following these unwritten rules. But, respect and handing money up the chain essentially keep oneself protected and continually in business. The threat of violence lurks around every corner under the veneer of loyalty and family, which seems to keep wiseguys like Hill in line. It also opens doors to new ventures once Hill proves himself capable at increasingly bolder tasks, such as bookmaking.

Even though Hill—and many of his fellow wiseguys—never graduated school, Pileggi carefully highlights the shrewd business sense many of these men must cultivate in order to keep track of so much money and so much movement of assets. Hill's realization after his brief arrest demonstrates the intricate links between many of the police and the wiseguys; the two organizations have created a sort of uneasy partnership to keep things running in a way that benefits both groups.

Hill's failed attempt to start a more "regular" business reveals how easily the wiseguy life can pull him back in after his friends continue to show up at his establishment, costing him money he feels requires him to get back into dealing in questionable activities. Pileggi raises the question of just how fundamental Hill's true personality and tendencies are in keeping him tied to this lifestyle. Even his rash decision to beat up a man whom he thinks is harassing Karen shows the way his passion and temper can get the better of the cool decisions he needs to make in order to survive. In this light Pileggi portrays Hill as something of a tragic hero whose downfall will be his sense of pride and lack of remorse for his actions, which Hill dubs his policy of "whack 'em first and worry about them later." The reader already knows the results and consequences of Hill's actions—he will end up arrested and inside the witness protection program—and so Pileggi uses Hill's own narrative to fill in any recollection of his own emotions about these experiences.

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