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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 tread.In this gripping history of the Sicilian mafia, John Dickie uses startling new research to reveal the inner workin 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 tread.In 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 1963.


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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 tread.In this gripping history of the Sicilian mafia, John Dickie uses startling new research to reveal the inner workin 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 tread.In 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 1963.

30 review for Cosa Nostra: A History of the Sicilian Mafia

  1. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Ashley

    surprisingly thorough and readable history of the mafia in sicily. shame they had to blow up all those fiat 500s.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mari Biella

    The word "mafia" is known to everyone, yet not many people have a very clear idea of what it is. Mention the mafia, and most people probably think of the American Mafia (though this is in fact an offshoot of a decidedly Sicilian tree), or a scene from The Godfather. The truth, as John Dickie shows in this excellent account, is both more interesting, and more complicated and harrowing, than fiction. Nobody knows quite when or how the mafia came into being; even the origin of the name is now hopele The word "mafia" is known to everyone, yet not many people have a very clear idea of what it is. Mention the mafia, and most people probably think of the American Mafia (though this is in fact an offshoot of a decidedly Sicilian tree), or a scene from The Godfather. The truth, as John Dickie shows in this excellent account, is both more interesting, and more complicated and harrowing, than fiction. 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 more 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'être. 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 more 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.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Panos Maris

    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. 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.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ruthie

    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 Berna 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 boss...acts as capitalist, impresario and manager...he regulates the way labour and duties are divided out...Discipline 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.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Imani

    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 somethi 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.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Uldis Lazdiņš

    Before reading this book I thought that Mafia was a thing of the past - something from The Godfather movies where the mafiosi run around with guns and buy politicians. Some of that turns out to be true, but I am quite certain now that it is definitely not a thing of only the past. If you know more history books like this - I want to read them all!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Anna Widzisz

    I loved it. It was full of knowledge and easy to read. Even though I tried to separate chapters because I was doing a research at the same time. I would recommend it to anyone who like this kind of topic and wants to know more.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Līga

    3,5 - great, detailed content but, man, what a drag to read.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sam Thomas

    A comprehensive overview of how the Mafia got to where it is

  10. 5 out of 5

    Wesley Gerrard

    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 more humble roots in dealing with cattle rustling, the Cosa Nostra moved into more traditional mafia activities such as protection rackets an 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 more humble roots in dealing with cattle rustling, the Cosa Nostra moved into more 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 more 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.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Liam Berry

    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 d 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.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Giuliana

    This hefty book is a history of the Sicilian Mafia from its beginning to modern days. The first part is interesting and contained lots of details I had not read anywhere else. However, the book's unforgivable flaw comes out pretty early. The author seems to attribute the rise of the Mafia to the incompetence of the political system and the Italian police. Although I tend never to underestimate incompetence as a cause for all evils (especially for Italians), this outlook is fundamentally naive or, This hefty book is a history of the Sicilian Mafia from its beginning to modern days. The first part is interesting and contained lots of details I had not read anywhere else. However, the book's unforgivable flaw comes out pretty early. The author seems to attribute the rise of the Mafia to the incompetence of the political system and the Italian police. Although I tend never to underestimate incompetence as a cause for all evils (especially for Italians), this outlook is fundamentally naive or, worse, out of connivance. Whoever lived in Italy or studied the Italian political world after WW2 cannot ignore that the political sphere was a willing accomplice of the Mafia. The Italian government used the Mafia to silence the Communist threat and then provided peculiar favors in terms of reduced sentences, Hiltonian prison conditions, etc. The author also ends the book with one gigantic error that has really no excuses. John Dickie explains that Giulio Andreotti, 7-time Prime Minister, was cleared of all charges and proved innocent in his decade-long trial about his collaboration with the Mafia. That is a lie. Andreotti's ties to the Mafia were proved and recognized until 1980, but expired under statutory laws. Andreotti is not an innocent man. A good journalist cannot make such mistakes.This curious interpretation of Italian history left me with a bitter taste in my mouth.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Josh Hamacher

    This book is organized roughly chronologically, from the (theorized) beginnings of the mafia to the early 2000s. Almost all of the content is centered on notable figures within the mafia rather than "the mafia" as a whole. I liked that Dickie is very clear about what is known and what is theorized, and how he stresses that most of what is known is based on the testimony of pentiti. Unfortunately I just couldn't get into this book. My biggest sticking point was that the book quickly became repetiti This book is organized roughly chronologically, from the (theorized) beginnings of the mafia to the early 2000s. Almost all of the content is centered on notable figures within the mafia rather than "the mafia" as a whole. I liked that Dickie is very clear about what is known and what is theorized, and how he stresses that most of what is known is based on the testimony of pentiti. Unfortunately I just couldn't get into this book. My biggest sticking point was that the book quickly became repetitive - not due to the writing itself, but due to the fact that the middle 2/3 of the book mostly consists of: - Dozens of accounts of mafiosos, with many of the accounts being fairly similar. - Numerous accounts of how the Italian government periodically rediscovers the mafia, gets serious about fighting it, and then lapses back into willful ignorance. If you're looking for a detailed account of what is (or was, circa 2004) known about the mafia, you'll probably get a lot more out of this book than someone like me, who was looking for a broad overview.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Janina

    The topic of Cosa Nosta is obviously a very interesting one and still very obscure. But after the first 100 or so pages of this book, I had to stop for a while. It was so utterly boring! What was also a problem for me were all the Italian names which confused me a lot. I couldn't remember who was who and if I ha read this name before or not. After some time I picked it up again and was able to read through it that time. But I guess that it is enough to read the last 50 (plus minus) pages about t The topic of Cosa Nosta is obviously a very interesting one and still very obscure. But after the first 100 or so pages of this book, I had to stop for a while. It was so utterly boring! What was also a problem for me were all the Italian names which confused me a lot. I couldn't remember who was who and if I ha read this name before or not. After some time I picked it up again and was able to read through it that time. But I guess that it is enough to read the last 50 (plus minus) pages about the last 20 or so years of the mafia. That was really interesting and also well written! But all in all, I was pretty disappointed by Cosa Nostra. I hardly remember anything at all, expect that there was something about an opera(?) the author kept blabbing about for quite some while and...um...yes. That's pretty much it. Quite bad after 512 pages I guess.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kiragu

    To say Cosa Nostra is well done is not enough. We are talking about tracing Mafia in the late 1800s in Sicily, its exportation to America in the early 1900s and its development since. You will not find the climax of Mario Puzo's The Godfather because Cosa Nostra is a chronological trace. John Dickie may have set out to educate through his book and not to thrill. However a story of mafiosi and mafioso will always be a tale of excitement. The lowlight is that Dickie touches much of much which mean To say Cosa Nostra is well done is not enough. We are talking about tracing Mafia in the late 1800s in Sicily, its exportation to America in the early 1900s and its development since. You will not find the climax of Mario Puzo's The Godfather because Cosa Nostra is a chronological trace. John Dickie may have set out to educate through his book and not to thrill. However a story of mafiosi and mafioso will always be a tale of excitement. The lowlight is that Dickie touches much of much which means the book needs more pages if it's to tell the story of mafia in detail. A reader feels that the writer is in a hurry to fill 150 years of mafiosi activity in a few chapters. I do congratulate Dickie for his research and his excellence in remaining neutral. I'm educated on the History of mafia and will definitely be out looking for more of Dickie.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    True Crime is my guilty pleasure; the majority of what I read is sensationalist tripe; but I do love it so. My ex wife refers to it as 'dick-lit' This on the other hand is a well researched, bona fide history book coupled with all the joys and readability of a good thriller. It looks at the Sicilian mafia from it's inception right up to the modern day. Some of these Sicilian guys make Jon Gotti look like a choir boy and think nothing of assassinating High Court Judges or Politicians; riveting stu True Crime is my guilty pleasure; the majority of what I read is sensationalist tripe; but I do love it so. My ex wife refers to it as 'dick-lit' This on the other hand is a well researched, bona fide history book coupled with all the joys and readability of a good thriller. It looks at the Sicilian mafia from it's inception right up to the modern day. Some of these Sicilian guys make Jon Gotti look like a choir boy and think nothing of assassinating High Court Judges or Politicians; riveting stuff.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Joshua Askew

    Not a bad book by any means but it’s quite repetitive and not particularly engaging. The chapters are set out in chronological order but this isn’t really kept to in practice, as the narrative bounces backwards and forwards, from decade to decade, in a way that can make it hard to keep track of and hard to remember who is relevant when. The book is still interesting though. I would recommend reading a chapter at a time then putting it down before starting the next to avoid getting burned out by Not a bad book by any means but it’s quite repetitive and not particularly engaging. The chapters are set out in chronological order but this isn’t really kept to in practice, as the narrative bounces backwards and forwards, from decade to decade, in a way that can make it hard to keep track of and hard to remember who is relevant when. The book is still interesting though. I would recommend reading a chapter at a time then putting it down before starting the next to avoid getting burned out by some of its weaknesses.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Nathan Albright

    This particular book is a history of the mafia and its parasitic relationship with the Italian state that was constructed from the 1860's onward, demonstrating that far from an ancient phenomenon, the mafia is in fact relatively new, having been noticed (but not treated seriously by most Italian rulers) shortly after it began, and demonstrating the conditions of profit and power that led the mafia to form both in Italy and later in the United States.  As someone who does not read very much about This particular book is a history of the mafia and its parasitic relationship with the Italian state that was constructed from the 1860's onward, demonstrating that far from an ancient phenomenon, the mafia is in fact relatively new, having been noticed (but not treated seriously by most Italian rulers) shortly after it began, and demonstrating the conditions of profit and power that led the mafia to form both in Italy and later in the United States.  As someone who does not read very much about the history of the criminal class, I found this a deeply interesting book and I think it is a subject I will read about more, given its general interest for those who are interested in the history of corruption and the relationship of politics and society as a whole.  On a general level, this book is an example of the limits of being able to hide a conspiracy, and how the best way to hide something from those who matter is to co-opt them or tie them in some fashion to the secret society that one wishes to make, even if one's actions cannot be entirely hidden. This volume is about 350 pages and it contains a history of the mafia from its founding to the early 2000's or so.  The author begins with the origins of the mafia in Sicily's citrus industry in the mid 1800's (1) and how it got its name.  After that the author discusses the ways the mafia entered Italy's political system (2) in the last quarter of the 19th century and how its influence corrupted Italian politics at the highest level from that point onward (3).  There is a discussion of the relationship between socialism and fascism and the mafia, which opposed both movements in general (4), as well as a look at the way the mafia established itself in America (5) and was reborn by the American victory over fascism (6).  This leads to a discussion about the mafia interest in construction and drug trafficking in the postwar period (7) as well as the first (8) and second (9) mafia wars and their consequences.  The author then concludes the book with a discussion of the efforts by Italy's virtuous minority to curb the mafia, despite the high death toll that resulted from these efforts (8) and the bombing in the 1990's and early 2000's that led the mafia to go under at least temporarily in the face of social outrage (9), after which the book concludes with acknowledgements, a bibliography and notes on sources, and an index. The author has clearly gone to a great deal of effort in order to uncover forgotten and neglected research that demonstrates the way that the mafia was known from the very beginning by those around it, some of whom were brave opponents of the mafia and its system of violence and oppression.  The author maintains a grim sense of humor, discussing the counterproductive attempts of the mafia to influence politics through violence and the way that just as the mafia is a parasitic element of Italian (and American) society, so too is the Corleone leadership, which maintains power through its interests in Palermo, parasitic on the mafia itself.  What is most surprising in reading a book like this is the fact that there have been so few histories of the mafia and that it took so long for people to think that the mafia was a worthy subject of historical discussion despite its obvious importance to Sicilian and Italian-American aspects of history and contemporary culture.  This book will likely encourage a great many more people to read and perhaps even write about the mafia themselves.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Hendra Putra

    When an outsider want to talk about the history of Italy, sometimes we confuse where we have to start. Should I start from the history of Roman Empire? Arab occupation? Crusade? Renaissance? Napoleonic war? Industrial Revolution? Fascism? or Republic of Italia? Of course all of the events brought its own impact to the Italian today. But there is one specific history of Italy that the existence is longer than Italian democracy itself. And it's important to understand how and why this history coul When an outsider want to talk about the history of Italy, sometimes we confuse where we have to start. Should I start from the history of Roman Empire? Arab occupation? Crusade? Renaissance? Napoleonic war? Industrial Revolution? Fascism? or Republic of Italia? Of course all of the events brought its own impact to the Italian today. But there is one specific history of Italy that the existence is longer than Italian democracy itself. And it's important to understand how and why this history could last longer in the modern world. John Dickie is a specialist in Italian History and Criminology. He wrote several other books about Mafia in Italy. What I really enjoy the most is the way he present the story. It's like reading a detective book. And of course, since you can categorise this book as an academic book, the story he tried to present is based on the fact and also carefully draw his own conclusion about whether a person is guilty or directly related to Cosa Nostra (Because that is the obligation of the court to say someone guilty or not). Even Milan in 1990s is totally different world, there were many bomb attack all over the country due to the outrage of new law impose to this criminal organisation, it’s really looks like Prohibition Era in US in the 1920s. The Law Enforcement has been killed in the day light, the Prime Minister was accused to embrace the mafia power to win the election even the church itself play its role. But don’t forget, in the mean time Italy keep doing the great job to push their industry, education, and research and keep up with other European country. You name it, Ducati, Ferrari, Bugatti, and many other industrial product. Before I read this book, I am a huge fan of The Godfather written by Mario Puzo. I read the book and watch all the movies dozen times. In my mind, this fictional Godfather is already savage and brutal. In fact it was nothing compare to what happen in the real world of Mafia. So, if you are fans of The Godfather, you should read this book.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Giorgi Pipia

    Book gives you all the History and earliest mention of mafia on Sicily. I read it as a history book and was amazed by the details of the content. It starts from the formation of Italian state in 19 century and even earlier. Book should be used as a blueprint to understand how organized crime operates and how it corrupts everything on it's way. Mafia is like a plague, which effect every form of the state and society altogether. There is no tradition to breed this kind of savages in any part of th Book gives you all the History and earliest mention of mafia on Sicily. I read it as a history book and was amazed by the details of the content. It starts from the formation of Italian state in 19 century and even earlier. Book should be used as a blueprint to understand how organized crime operates and how it corrupts everything on it's way. Mafia is like a plague, which effect every form of the state and society altogether. There is no tradition to breed this kind of savages in any part of the world. Maybe in the very distant past secret society operated as last shelter against foreign invaders of Sicily, but after State of Italy was formed it became just a criminal enterprise even exporting it all over the world. Viciousness and brutality of Mafia is just an easy way to describe it, its a darkest poison for humans in every aspect of its immorality. If u wonder how mafia could run almost 5 million island from 1950s to 1990s you should definitely read this book. Easy to read and its like to watch very interesting documentary with real cases, names, court decisions and police investigations and sure the conspiracy theories of the era.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Spencer Belyea

    Ideally I'd give this book a 3.5, but because I'm feeling generous today, I'll round up. There is absolutely no question that Dickie is extremely knowledge about the Cosa Nostra and that the book is well-researched. He quotes extensively from first hand accounts, testimony, etc - all the sources that you would want in what purports to be an authoritative book. There's as much detail in there as you could want - but therein lies the problem, because sometimes there might be too much detail. Thing Ideally I'd give this book a 3.5, but because I'm feeling generous today, I'll round up. There is absolutely no question that Dickie is extremely knowledge about the Cosa Nostra and that the book is well-researched. He quotes extensively from first hand accounts, testimony, etc - all the sources that you would want in what purports to be an authoritative book. There's as much detail in there as you could want - but therein lies the problem, because sometimes there might be too much detail. Things kind of get circled back around to in ways that seem unnecessary, and there are some parts that go on longer than I'd have liked while some sentences just left me hanging. It was more readable than an academic book but by no means light and fluffy. Overall, a good history of Cosa Nostra and would recommend if you're interested in organized crime or the mafia.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kaspar Ben-Gurion

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. A fascinating read, but reality surpasses fiction in tragedy and injustice which leaves you hopeless and forlorn about the state of the world. It sheds light on how exactly organized crime is nothing of the kind you see in movies, and how indiscriminate murders of innocent men, children and pregnant women are everyday life of the inhabitants of a supposedly civilized European country, where throughout the centuries various instances of absolute horrifying incarnations of consternation rules as l A fascinating read, but reality surpasses fiction in tragedy and injustice which leaves you hopeless and forlorn about the state of the world. It sheds light on how exactly organized crime is nothing of the kind you see in movies, and how indiscriminate murders of innocent men, children and pregnant women are everyday life of the inhabitants of a supposedly civilized European country, where throughout the centuries various instances of absolute horrifying incarnations of consternation rules as law above civilized institutions. You would think this as normality for a third world, civil-war torn state in dismay, but must reluctantly realize its a part of the so-so-called first world Western Europe.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Splenda

    The history of the Mafia/Cosa Nostra has always been a keen interest of mine. I have encountered many documentaries and dramatizations of the Italian-American Mafia in the past, but have had no exposure to the Sicilian Mafia. John Dickie provides a thorough history of the Sicilian Cosa Nostra from its inception in the 1880s through its severely weakened state in the mid 2000s. Along the way we cross paths with Greco, Buscetta, Leggio, Riina, Provenzano, and many other mafiosi that have arguably The history of the Mafia/Cosa Nostra has always been a keen interest of mine. I have encountered many documentaries and dramatizations of the Italian-American Mafia in the past, but have had no exposure to the Sicilian Mafia. John Dickie provides a thorough history of the Sicilian Cosa Nostra from its inception in the 1880s through its severely weakened state in the mid 2000s. Along the way we cross paths with Greco, Buscetta, Leggio, Riina, Provenzano, and many other mafiosi that have arguably tainted the history of the island of Sicily. Dickie unpacks these stories in great detail and ultimately provides the greatest written account of this strange criminal organization.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Radley Dicker

    An incredible comprehensive history of Costra Nostra from inception to now, the book is compromised of many stories from contemporary documents and investigations. Really it’s a patchwork of all the available sources, John Dickie does an excellent job of stitching everything together especially given the fact that very few people actually talked. I learned an incredible amount about why organisations like Cosa Nostra emerged, lessons that can be applied elsewhere to islands in similar situations An incredible comprehensive history of Costra Nostra from inception to now, the book is compromised of many stories from contemporary documents and investigations. Really it’s a patchwork of all the available sources, John Dickie does an excellent job of stitching everything together especially given the fact that very few people actually talked. I learned an incredible amount about why organisations like Cosa Nostra emerged, lessons that can be applied elsewhere to islands in similar situations, such as Malta. Just to peak your interest would you ever have thought that the Mafia evolved from lemons?

  25. 5 out of 5

    Steven English

    What a shame. An expertly researched account of an incredibly interesting and unique subject that I abandoned half way through due to the awfully stodgy writing. I couldn't wait to put it down every time I picked it up. The whole thing reads like a coroners report. Why the author couldn't have outsourced the actual writing of the book is beyond me as the information actually present is both fascinating and very obscure. I would not recommend this book to most people, barring masochists, of course. What a shame. An expertly researched account of an incredibly interesting and unique subject that I abandoned half way through due to the awfully stodgy writing. I couldn't wait to put it down every time I picked it up. The whole thing reads like a coroners report. Why the author couldn't have outsourced the actual writing of the book is beyond me as the information actually present is both fascinating and very obscure. I would not recommend this book to most people, barring masochists, of course.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Gareth Davies

    This was a long read. After the interest of the first couple of sections it became a slog. The way the book is written means that the back and for in time (and places) can become confusing. It also results in no build up of characters etc as you flit from one bit to something different so you don’t feel like you are making any progress. Added to this, many of the stories are similar. That said, I did find the book interesting. I enjoyed the early parts on how the mafia came into existence as well This was a long read. After the interest of the first couple of sections it became a slog. The way the book is written means that the back and for in time (and places) can become confusing. It also results in no build up of characters etc as you flit from one bit to something different so you don’t feel like you are making any progress. Added to this, many of the stories are similar. That said, I did find the book interesting. I enjoyed the early parts on how the mafia came into existence as well as the chapters that focussed on the mafias link with politicians.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tony Gualtieri

    The sad history of western Sicily and the corruption that has prevented this beautiful land from thriving. Blessed with all the gifts of the Mediterranean, Sicily has been held hostage by the graft and cruelty of its "Men of Honor." This book gives an easy-to-read narrative from the Mafia's origins in the early 19th century up to the first year's of the 21st. An interesting book that is ultimately frustrating in recounting the fatalism that has sustained these criminals for such a long period. The sad history of western Sicily and the corruption that has prevented this beautiful land from thriving. Blessed with all the gifts of the Mediterranean, Sicily has been held hostage by the graft and cruelty of its "Men of Honor." This book gives an easy-to-read narrative from the Mafia's origins in the early 19th century up to the first year's of the 21st. An interesting book that is ultimately frustrating in recounting the fatalism that has sustained these criminals for such a long period.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Don Ekback

    This is a long and very detailed study of organized crime in Sicily and it's effect on Italian politics and the United States. It presents a picture of a very disorganized, and ongoing, war on the people and within itself. I'd recommend for scholarly studies and as a way to sort out some of the names and trends within the wider picture of history. But it is very long and overdetailed read for someone with somewhat lesser fascination with true crime. This is a long and very detailed study of organized crime in Sicily and it's effect on Italian politics and the United States. It presents a picture of a very disorganized, and ongoing, war on the people and within itself. I'd recommend for scholarly studies and as a way to sort out some of the names and trends within the wider picture of history. But it is very long and overdetailed read for someone with somewhat lesser fascination with true crime.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Nicolas

    This book was amazing from beginning the end. The ability of the author to tell such chronological events and facts in the way or a really interesting story and trying to transfer the veracity of each “fact” according to the sources is remarkable. I’m definitely reading the other book of the other mafias, such a world is interesting enough without any fiction but sometimes the stories seems to be taken away of movies or crime books. Totally recommended

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ross

    Couple of things I want to remember from this book... - The word 'Don' comes from Spanish noblemen that ruled Sicily. - 'Mafioso' meant ''cool, beautiful and/or self confident" in Sicilian dialect. - To visit the statue to Rizzotto in Piazza Centrale in Corleone - Read more on Tommaso Buscetta, Bernardo Provenzano and Joe Bonanno - The 'Day of the Owl' book first gave a name/status to the mafia (written by a teacher) - Sicily is complex af! Couple of things I want to remember from this book... - The word 'Don' comes from Spanish noblemen that ruled Sicily. - 'Mafioso' meant ''cool, beautiful and/or self confident" in Sicilian dialect. - To visit the statue to Rizzotto in Piazza Centrale in Corleone - Read more on Tommaso Buscetta, Bernardo Provenzano and Joe Bonanno - The 'Day of the Owl' book first gave a name/status to the mafia (written by a teacher) - Sicily is complex af!

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