Blood Brotherhoods

Blood Brotherhoods

A History of Italy's Three Mafias

Book - 2014 | First edition.
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The Sicilian mafia, known as Cosa Nostra, is far from being Italy's only dangerous criminal fraternity. The country hosts two other major mafias: the camorra from Naples; and, from the poor and isolated region of Calabria, the mysterious 'ndrangheta, which has now risen to become the most powerful mob group active today.

Since they emerged, the mafias have all corrupted Italy's institutions, drastically curtailed the life-chances of its citizens, evaded justice, and set up their own self-interested meddling as an alternative to the courts. Yet each of these brotherhoods has its own methods, its own dark rituals, its own style of ferocity. Each is uniquely adapted to corrupt and exploit its own specific environment, as it collaborates with, learns from, and goes to war with the other mafias.

Today, the shadow of organized crime hangs over a country racked by debt, political paralysis, and widespread corruption. The 'ndrangheta controls much of Europe's wholesale cocaine trade and, by some estimates, 3 percent of Italy's total GDP. Blood Brotherhoods traces the origins of this national malaise back to Italy's roots as a united country in the nineteenth century, and shows how political violence incubated underworld sects among the lemon groves of Palermo, the fetid slums of Naples, and the harsh mountain villages of Calabria.

Blood Brotherhoods is a book of breathtaking ambition, tracing for the first time the interlocking story of all three mafias from their origins to the present day. John Dickie is recognized in Italy as one of the foremost historians of organized crime. In these pages, he blends archival detective work, passionate narrative, and shrewd analysis to bring a unique criminal ecosystem--and the three terrifying criminal brotherhoods that have evolved within it--to life on the page.
Publisher: New York : PublicAffairs, 2014.
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ?2014
ISBN: 9781610394277
Branch Call Number: 364.106 DIC
Characteristics: xlv, 748 pages :,illustrations, maps


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VaughanPLKarenL Mar 12, 2017

It’s incredible how long the Sicilian Mafia was able to get by, claiming its own nonexistence, as well as how the ‘ndrangheta are apparently not yet recognized as a criminal organization as such at the time Dickie was writing Blood Brotherhoods (the timelines stretch into over a hundred years since the inception of both organizations, which is mind-boggling). Of course, this is and was made possible by the links between the different mafias of Italy and the state, both in terms of the government as well as its people, through intimidation and give-and-take cooperation that exchanges favours and money both. The constant waffling of the Italian government also contributed a great deal to the mafias’ flourishing, as the more powerful and influential the mafias got (and get) – the more ingrained they become in the societal fabric – the harder it becomes to purge the state of them. Dickie intertwines the histories of the three mafias that have dominated Italian soil such that we are able to see how these organizations did not, and do not, exist independently of each other, rather learning from each other’s mistakes and adapting to (or failing to adapt to) new challenges; the mafias are not static entities, existing rather like organisms adapting to their environments.
I would really like to see how the mafias of Italy have also interacted with other criminal organizations around the world (in other worlds, an expansion of this book’s subject matter from Italian mafias to all the main criminal organizations that have originated – or continue to originate from – other countries worldwide), and how becoming linked to these other countries’ syndicates has influenced each of the parties involved!

VaughanPLDaniel Dec 22, 2016

What I was most surprised to discover, in the early chapters of this book, was the ways in which origins of the various criminal fraternities in southern Italy, known collectively abroad as the "mafia," coincided with the origin of the Italian state during the late 19th century. To achieve their goal of a unified Italian state, Italian politicians struck secret deals with members of the top of the criminal food chain in the crime and poverty-ridden south, establishing a criminal-state partnership, which, some would argue, exists to this day. The history of the Italian mafia is the history of the Italian state .

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