John Dickie

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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 the Italian sources in the original. This puts him in a position to provide an English language book that has more detail and local characters than other authors.

The book sets out the history of the three groups from the Second World War to today. It shows how they integrated themselves into the normal social and political life of state; a political alliance that was tied up with the fight against Communism. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the Italian state has tried to recognise and respond to the threat these three groups present to the power of the government to control southern Italy.

This is a fascinating look into the reality of these mafia organisations, the horrors and depravations they impose on society and their threat to democracy. It is difficult to overstate the danger they have presented to the Italian nation including the real chance that they would displace the government in certain regions. Dickie’s book puts the power of organized crime into perspective. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in organized crime and its influence on society.

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