The book "Donnie Brasco" is based on the undercover life of the author, Joseph D. Pistone, an F.B.I agent who penetrated one of New York City's five families in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Joseph D. Pistone served in the FBI for 28 years, including six years of undercover life in the New York Bonanno crime family, where he operated as a jewel thief under the name Donnie Brasco. Due to his undercover work, more than 200 members of the Mafia were put behind bars. Joseph D. Pistone was born in Pennsylvania, where he also spent his childhood. Then, he moved to New Jersey. In New Jersey, he graduated from high school and college, where he majored in social studies. Pistone always wanted to be an F. B. I agent, and he decided to join Naval
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It was decided that Piston had to create a new identity to penetrate the mob. He decided to retain his previous name, Donnie Brasco. The FBI also created his background. Thus, Donnie Brasco became a jewel thief and burglar. As a jewel thief, Pistone had to obtain appropriate experience. Pistone took gemology courses and worked with experts of a famous jewelry company in New York City. Pistone describes that it was a very secret operation known only a few people. Pistone says that when he left the FBI office in September 1976, he never entered any FBI office for the six years he was undercover. After all these precautions, Pistone was ready to start his undercover work. When Pistone started his undercover work, he created a list of places where wise guys, or men connected with mafia, were hanging out. Mostly, these places were bars and restaurants located in midtown and lower Manhattan. He did not want to visit mob joints in Little Italy because it would be too obvious that he was undercover. A person could not hang out there without knowing someone.
Pistone cruised these mob joints every day so that people became accustomed to him. Pistone says that the most important that was not to push things too much; he had to do everything gradually. He visited these places to have dinner and to say hello to the bartender without much talking and asking questions because a person who asks many questions looks suspicious,