Organized crime is perhaps the most fascinating phenomenon of our time. From Al Capone, who boldly claimed his bootlegging activities were a public service, to the flamboyant Teflon Don, John Gotti, the criminals of the underworld garnered headlines and captured our imagination with their violent and extravagant lifestyles.
Mafia is an absorbing introduction to the mob's most influential personalities - their lives, loves, and terrible crimes. It also provides an in-depth history of the role of the mob in Sicily and America.
For anyone who wants to know the truth about organized crime and understand the violent forces that have shaped it over the last century, this book is an indispensable guide.
©2007 Arcturus Publishing Limited (P)2016 Arcturus Digital Limited
At first sight, it is plain that this 4-hour book leaves something out of this vast history. So what is in it? It starts with some Sicilian history going back to the days before the unification of Italy. It has a nice compact history of that culture and some of the terminology familiar to Italian mafia aficionados. We see some history from the unification of Italy. It follows some major characters into the USA, giving a thumbnail sketch of various major figures into the mid 20th century, weaving into that world ("Mustache Petes," the Black Hand, Rothstein's innovations, Luciano, Capone, etc.). We then spend a lot of time in the Sicily of the 20th century, through the Mussolini years, and some trans-Atlantic ties and names. The Sicily invasion with US-mafia collaboration is told. Is there really a town, Corleone? Yes. Meet some real people from there. Then we see the buildup of the heroin trade controlled from Sicily largely selling into the USA, and the establishment of the French Connection and later the so-called "Pizza Connection." The scene shifts back and forth across the Atlantic with a large focus on heroin. The CIA is mentioned at various times in the book as allegedly interfacing with some pretty strange bedfellows. Here one may notice (and unfortunately, without a "look inside" feature in Amazon's book sales to check footnotes and the book's index, if any) a lack of documentation and sourcing in the audio, which I would very much like to have, to evaluate some of these factual claims better. There is mention of CIA-Air America shipping drugs out of Laos to support hill tribes. Then, there is a switch to an emphasis on political corruption back in Italy into the 1980s. There is a lot of discussion of those years when I recall constant headlines about kidnappings, murders and bombings there, and the peril to prosecutors. It closes with a brief look at the decline of the Gambino family, through Gotti Jr. So, this story does fit a somewhat coherent overall sequence in time but there are threads or fragments not really run down in a fully scholarly fashion. The story is very listenable and I listened almost straight through. It is some interesting background info, in you have any interest in the general history of organized crime.
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