In Mafia Republic, John Dickie shows how the Italian mafias have grown in power and become more and more interconnected...with terrifying consequences.
John Dickie's Mafia Brotherhoods was described by the Financial Times as 'powered by the sort of muscular prose that one associates with great detective fiction'; in Mafia Republic, he again marries outstanding scholarship with compelling storytelling.
In 1946, Italy became a democratic Republic, thereby entering the family of modern western nations. But deep within Italy there lurked a forgotten curse: three major criminal brotherhoods, whose methods had been honed over a century of experience. As Italy grew, so did the mafias. Sicily's Cosa Nostra, the camorra from Naples, and the mysterious 'ndrangheta from Calabria stood ready to enter the wealthiest and bloodiest period of their long history.
While Italy made itself rich by making scooters, cars and handbags, the mafias carved out their own route to wealth through tobacco smuggling, construction, kidnapping and narcotics. And as criminal business grew exponentially, the mafias grew not just more powerful, but became more interconnected.
By the 1980s, Southern Italy was on the edge of becoming a narco-state. The scene was set for a titanic confrontation between heroic representatives of the law, and mafiosi who could no longer tolerate any obstacle to their ambitions. This was a war for Italy's future as a civilized country. At its peak in 1992-93, the 'ndrangheta was beheading people in the street, and the Sicilian mafia murdered its greatest enemies, investigating magistrates Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, before embarking on a major terrorist bombing campaign on the Italian mainland.
Today, the long shadow of mafia history still hangs over a nation wracked by debt, political paralysis, and widespread corruption. While police put their lives on the line every day, one of Silvio Berlusconi's ministers said that Italy had to 'learn to live with the mafia'; suspicions of mafia involvement still surround some of the country's most powerful media moguls and politicians.
The latest investigations show that its reach is astonishing: it controls much of Europe's wholesale cocaine trade, and representatives from as far away as Germany, Canada and Australia come to Calabria to seek authorisation for their affairs.
Just when it thought it had finally contained the mafia threat, Italy is now discovering that it harbours the most global criminal network of them all.
John Dickie combines narrative skills in his description of skulduggery with excellent pen portraits of striking individuals...no one anywhere writes with such authority on Italy's criminal gangs. - Times Literary Supplement
Chilling and eye-opening. - The Times - Bill Emmott
I've been so unsettled by John Dickie's Mafia Republic - his angry and moving new history of the power of the Italian criminal fraternities since the Second World War. - Big Issue - Samira Ahmed
REVIEWS FOR MAFIA BROTHERHOODS: - .
His narrative bowls along, powered by the sort of muscular prose one associates with great detective fiction. An exhilarating history. - Financial Times
'Exciting and well-written... like a 19th-century Sopranos'. - Shortlist
'Fine social history and hair-raising true crime'. - Independent
By shining a light so powerfully into the darkest recesses of mafia mythology and history, Dickie's new book will certainly provide a concrete tool in the anti-mafia struggle to which many Italians and Calabrians in Australia and Italy are passionately committed. - Australian Literary Review
John Dickie is Professor of Italian Studies at University College London. Hodder & Stoughton published his Cosa Nostra: A History of the Sicilian Mafia in 2004, to ecstatic reviews. It became an international bestseller, with over 20 translations, and won the CWA Dagger Award for Non-fiction that year. Since then he has published Delizia!: The Epic History of the Italians and their Food (2007) - now a six-part TV series for HIstory Channel Italia and other networks worldwide. His most recent books are Mafia Brotherhoods (2011) and Mafia Republic: Italy's Criminal Curse (2013).
In 2005 the President of the Italian Republic appointed him a Commendatore dell'Ordine della Stella della Solidarieta Italiana.