Nobody knows quite when or how the mafia came into being even the origin of the name is now hopelessly lost and obscure Mafiosi themselves tend to use the name Cosa Nostra our thing The organisation owes much, perhaps, to Sicily s unique history This small island, situated in the middle of the Mediterranean, barely a stone s throw from the Italian mainland and yet very different to the remainder of the peninsula, has been conquered by Greeks, Vandals, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, and the French Some of these colonial powers were forbearing than others, but ordinary Sicilians rarely benefited from their rule Distrust of the state, and the conviction that an honourable man sorts out his own problems and avenges insults and injuries on his own initiative, was and is widespread Strange as it may sound, honour albeit of the kind that few outsiders would recognise is written into the mafia s DNA.
The mafia seems always to have existed on two levels On one level, it is hidden and mysterious, a sub stratum that only its members know of or understand Crime fraud, drug trafficking, money laundering, protection rackets is its raison d tre On another level, however, it rises up into the mainstream and infiltrates politics, law enforcement, the judiciary, the Church As the author says, Cosa Nostra is a shadow state, a political body that sometimes opposes, sometimes subverts, and sometimes dwells within the body of the legal government Of course, and as it s only fair to point out, there have also been politicians, policemen, judges and priests who have courageously taken a stand against the mafia, and have paid dearly for it There have been many attempts to deal with the mafia, none of which have been entirely successful Mussolini launched a war against Cosa Nostra, perhaps motivated by an incident that occurred when he visited Palermo and the mayor a Mafioso gestured at his bodyguards and said, You are with me, you are under my protection What do you need all these cops for The implication was clear here, the mafia were in control The duce did not take kindly to such a statement, and under his regime the mafia seemed to be in retreat only to advance again in the post war era In the 1980s, in the aftermath of the brutal Mafia Wars, a determined effort to overcome the mafia was launched by magistrates Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, and led in time to the Maxi Trial, in which 342 mafiosi were convicted The mafia response was swift and brutal Falcone, Borsellino and many others were killed, which in turn led to a wave of public revulsion.
Which leads us neatly to the present situation, insofar as it can be understood The Pax mafiosa, ironic as the name may sound, is in place, and the days of car bombs and public shootings seem to be over, at least for now Brutality continues I filled a cemetery all by myself, new capo Matteo Messina Denaro has reportedly claimed , but it does so in private and out of sight The modern mafia have grasped one of the elemental, and odd, rules of postmodern society that which does not exist in the media can be said, in a certain sense, not to exist at all What of the future This versatile organisation, deeply embedded in the structure of Sicilian society, probably isn t going anywhere fast It may change and adapt, but it will almost certainly continue for the time being The mafia of Sicily pursues money and power by cultivating the art of killing people and getting away with it, Dickie states That, at least sadly is unlikely to change any time soon.
Cosa Nostra A History of the Sicilian Mafia tells the story of the Sicilian Mafia from creation to somewhat end While it was an informative novel, there was just too much information so many names, dates, and stories that it was hard to keep up I am thankful that I had my professor to help guide me in what he wanted me to learn because I would have been lost.
John Dickie did a good job by giving you all of the facts about the mafia, but I wouldn t suggest this if you are looking for something concrete because it seems like Dickie goes all over the place, jumping from year to year and story to story.
It was still good, but beware of all the information that will be thrown at you.
A comprehensive and telling account of the mafia, this book takes effort in targeting the exact inception of this vague and shadowy group It s also a slap to the face to all my Italian peers who attribute mafiosi behavior to the mainland, when clearly it originated amongst their islander counterpart Any historian who appreciates meticulous writing will surely find wealth in this accurate but often grotesque text.
My big question is this what made Giovanni Falcone and Paulo Borsellino both born and bred in Palermo become heroic fighters for justice when others born in the same time and place turned to violent crime Who lit that spark Where did they get such courage from The courage to continue on a path even though they knew it would lead to a violent death This is a fabulous book a detailed account of the development of a criminal organisation from early 19th century to 2006 the capture of Bernardo The Tractor Provenzano Dickie is at pains to explain that Cosa Nostra is not some vague Sicilian tendency towards vendetta It is a carefully organised structure with clear membership processes So what are mafiosi They are entrepreneurs in violence Dickie quotes Franchetti in the violence industry the mafia bossacts as capitalist, impresario and managerhe regulates the way labour and duties are divided outDiscipline is indispensable in this as in any other industry if abundant and constant profits are to be obtained It is the mafia boss s job to judge from circumstances whether the acts of violence should be suspended for a while, or multiplied and made fiercer He has to adapt to market conditions to chose which operations to carry out, which people to exploit, which form of violence to use That sounds like a description of Tony Soprano it was published in 1877 Yes, 1877 What sort of blind amnesia does Italy suffer from And Dickie is absolutely clear this secret society based on violence has not melted away.
A comprehensive overview of how the Mafia got to where it is
This is a study on the notorious criminal organisation the Sicilian Mafia Cosa Nostra Over the years, Cosa Nostra has become an alternative source of political power in the Southern Italian island The reach of this criminal organisation has spread its tentacles across the globe, becoming a feared and respected multinational criminal organisation From humble roots in dealing with cattle rustling, the Cosa Nostra moved into traditional mafia activities such as protection rackets and later made very heavy profits in drug smuggling The Cosa Nostra is a difficult theme to research due to the clandestine nature of its activities It is a secret brotherhood and we learn of its hierarchy and organisation plus its almost religious like entry rituals It can be bloodthirsty and strict and its internal discipline is its means of maintaining its power It is in effect a tandem organisation to State power in Italy and its members even on the run are able to live clandestinely with few problems The links between Cosa Nostra and the American Mafia was interesting Joe Bananas a figure that bridged the gap between both worlds The two mafia wars of the Twentieth century were bloody and Cosa Nostra resorted to terrorism in its fight amongst itself and also with the state There has been a very damaging emergence of Pentiti who are whistleblowers who reveal to the authorities the crimes of former colleagues in exchange for immunity or freedom The Cosa Nostra was brought to the brink of destruction by some of these treacherous characters The Maxi Trial led by antimafia judges such as Falcone caused much devastation and meant a change in strategy, leadership and tactics Falcone ended up suffering a gruesome death, a fate shared by very many enemies of Cosa Nostra It was interesting seeing some of the dirty political dealings that many leading Italian political figures have with Cosa Nostra, including well known long term President Silvio Berlusconi The research for this book was often second hand, relying on preceding authors and also details could often be fussy due to a lot of the knowledge of structure of the organisation and its activities come from Pentiti who often are less than reliable sources due to their own bias I felt that it was an interesting and enlightening study although towards the end of the book the author s clear antimafia stance became a little annoying as I felt could have been subjective and perhaps focussed too much on the Crime aspect of Cosa Nostra and lacked respect in terms of seeing it as a perhaps positive force in much of what it does.
Hailed In Italy As The Best Book Ever Written About The Mafia In Any Language, Cosa Nostra Is A Fascinating, Violent, And Darkly Comic Account That Reads Like Fiction And Takes Us Deep Into The Inner Sanctum Of This Secret Society Where Few Have Dared To TreadIn This Gripping History Of The Sicilian Mafia, John Dickie Uses Startling New Research To Reveal The Inner Workings Of This Secret Society With A Murderous Record He Explains How The Mafia Began, How It Responds To Threats And Challenges, And Introduces Us To The Real Life Characters That Inspired The American Imagination For Generations, Making The Mafia An International, Larger Than Life Cultural Phenomenon Dickie S Dazzling Cast Of Characters Includes Antonio Giammona, The First Boss Of Bosses New York Cop Joe Petrosino, Who Underestimated The Sicilian Mafia And Paid For It With His Life And Bernard The Tractor Provenzano, The Current Boss Of Bosses Who Has Been Hiding In Sicily Since I was lucky enough to be able to read the first half of this excellent account of the history of the Sicillian Mafia while visiting Palermo Walking past locations key to stories told in the book added a certain vibrancy to the text and indeed to the city itself.
I was genuinely shocked by the brutality of this book The concept of the Industry of Violence as a tool for political control is an amazing notion but also an obvious one once it has been outlined in effect, and the relentless killing detailed here certainly accomplishes that The stories of the various murders of anyone who tried to stand in the way of the mafia are enough to chill the blood and certainly dispell any romanticised iteration of the mafia created by Hollywood.
Another aspect of the book I found incredibly informative was the breakdown of how the mafia s actions often had a concealed or even primary political agenda behind them The analysis brought to bare on their strategic motivations is excellent.
The writing here is also top drawer As well as brilliantly descriptive and inciteful hand, Dickie also tempers the flow of information with enough nods backwards and forwards in the text to assist with taking in around 150 years of history and an awful lot of similar looking Italian names.
It should not be forgotten that this book is also the history of a tragedy that has befallen many innocent people and that there are some real heros written about here, the vast majority of whom were murdered for having the courage to speak out.
Somewhere beyond highly recommended.
Mammamia Da habe ich mich so auf dieses Buch gefreut, denn seit dem Tod Falcones habe ich mich mit dem Thema nicht mehr ausf hrlich besch ftigt und ich wollte nach dem Film Il divo wieder mal Up to date im Who is Who der M rder, Wirtschschaftsverbrecher und honorigen Leute sein.
Nach 150 Seiten musste ich das Buch vorerst mal weglegen Wie kann man derart langweilig ber ein so spannendes Thema schreiben und dann auch noch die Wiederholungen, die Un bersichtlichkeit.
grauslich Ich bin in der historischen Mafia steckengeblieben und noch gar nicht zur Gegenwart bzw zu jenen Kapiteln der 80er und 90er Jahre, in denen ich mich gut auskenne, vorgedrungen Vielleicht wird es ja noch besser Irgendwie scheint dieses Buch sich selbtst zu verlieren beim Anspruch wirklich historisch korrekt alle komplexen Zusammenh nge immer und immer wieder zu kauen Dass so ein Thema nicht einfach ist, sei unbestritten, aber dass eine gute Aufarbeitung m glich ist, sieht man an David A Yallop, der die sicher genauso komplizierten wirtschaftlichen Zusammenh nge zwischen Finanz, Kirche und Mafia in den 80er Jahren sowohl genau und komplex als auch spannend erz hlt hat.
Deshalb verstehe ich die euphorischen Rezensionen von Tagesspiegel, S ddeutscher Zeitung und Welt am Sonntag berhaupt nicht Aber vielleicht wirds noch besser habe ich schon zum zweiten Mal geschrieben ist das eine Beschw rung.
Auf jeden Fall gilt das Zitat auf der ersten Seite nicht Dickie mag ja sicher ein guter Historiker sein, aber auf keinen Fall ein gewandter Erz hler