Mark Mazzetti

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There are many movies about evil CIA agents assassinating supposed enemies of the US. Those who saw the latest Captain America movie will have witnessed the plan by Hydra (a fascist faction within a secret agency presumably within the CIA) build floating gunships that can identify and eliminate those who pose a threat to national security. We are not there yet, but Mark Mazzetti‘s book The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth (Penguin, 2013)  should give us some anxiety about the current technology used for “extra-judicial killings”. Mazzetti gives us the history of the drone wars – a term hated by the Air Force who note that the drones are piloted aircraft  albeit from a remote location – and their ability to be used for the elimination of… well, enemies of the US and its allies. Having said that, this is not a diatribe of opposition but a balanced and careful examination of history and political process. At the core of the book is a discussion of how the CIA and the US military are running parallel drone operations with different criteria and standards of care and success. Mazzetti’s book presents us with, what I found to be, a frightening insight into operations that are so common that they rarely rate a mention in the media. I highly recommend the book and suggest that anyone running a course on military ethics include it in their reading list. There is more than enough ethical controversy raised in the book to fill a semester of discussion.

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John DickieMafia Republic: Italy’s Criminal Curse. Cosa Nostra, ‘Ndrangheta and Camorra from 1946 to the Present

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Mafia Republic: Italy’s Criminal Curse (Sceptre, 2013) is the second book by John Dickie on the history of the three organised crime groups from Southern Italy: the Sicilian Mafia or Cosa Nostra, the ‘Ndrangheta from Calabria and the Camorra from Naples. Dickie has an advantage over other researchers in organized crime by being able to read [...]

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[Cross-posted from New Books in History] In West Germany in September and October of 1977, a group of self-described urban guerrillas of the Red Army Faction (RAF) kidnapped industrialist Hanns Martin Schleyer. In exchange for Schleyer, the RAF demanded the release of its imprisoned leaders, Andreas Baader and Gudrun Ensslin. Those months in 1977 following the abduction [...]

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There is a fascinating area of study of how communities around the world realized there was such a concept as organized crime. This topic is driven by social attitudes and, to an increasing degree, by media images such as the Godfather movies. Some criminal groups actually model their movie icons, with generational differences for those [...]

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