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.


Michael SalterOrganised Sexual Abuse

May 7, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Book in Sociology] Sometimes it’s hard to imagine how certain types of violence can occur, and organized multi-perpetrator abuse certainly fits into this category.  Ritual abuse, sadistic abuse and pedophilia rings are often things we see in episodes of “Law and Order,” without having to think of the reality of the victims that actually [...]

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Peter Maguire and Mike RitterThai Stick: Surfers, Scammers and the Untold Story of the Marijuana Trade

March 29, 2014

Reading Peter Maguire and Mike Ritter‘s book Thai Stick: Surfers, Scammers and the Untold Story of the Marijuana Trade (Columbia Press, 2013) is the most fun I have had doing this podcast. Maguire makes a point during the interview that police officers preferred to arrest marijuana smugglers because they were so laid back and safe to [...]

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Jarrod GilbertPatched: The History of Gangs in New Zealand

February 6, 2014

Jarrod Gilbert is very lucky that he comes from a country the size of New Zealand. With only 4 million people he could carry out a project that would be beyond the abilities of someone from a large nation and beyond the scope of a single book, namely, the history of all the gangs in a [...]

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Joseph Albini and Jeffrey S. McIllwainDeconstructing Organized Crime: An Historical and Theoretical Study

January 31, 2014

Joseph Albini and Jeffrey S. McIllwain, Deconstructing Organized Crime: An Historical and Theoretical Study (MacFarlane, 2012) is not, as some academics might think, a post-modern analysis of organized crime. It is however, an exercise of deconstructing by trying to look past the common assumptions and myths to explain the phenomenon we call organized crime. The book starts [...]

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Karrin HanshewTerror and Democracy in West Germany

November 16, 2013

[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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Benedetta BertiArmed Political Organizations: From Conflict to Integration

October 28, 2013

[Cross-posted from New Books in Political Science] Benedetta Berti is the author of Armed Political Organizations: from Conflict to Integration (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013). Berti is a research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) and a lecturer at Tel Aviv University. The book investigates the inner workings of three organizations: Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Irish Republican [...]

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Eric Schmitt and Thom ShankerCounterstrike: The Untold Story of America’s Secret Campaign Against Al Qaeda

October 25, 2013

There are many books about the war against Al Qaeda. Most of these focus on counter-terrorism or counter insurgency military tactics or espionage operations. These books have become more frequent with the death of Osama Bin Laden. Counterstrike: The Untold Story of America’s Secret Campaign Against Al Qaeda (Times Books, 2011) is more than you can [...]

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Dick HobbsLush Life: Constructing Organized Crime in the UK

September 20, 2013

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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Guido SteinbergGerman Jihad: On the Internationalisation of Islamist Terrorism

September 10, 2013

I have read quite a few books on terrorism but always from an English language perspective. This has meant that I was missing the alternative stories from other nations. Guido Steinberg has done me a favour by publishing his German study in English. German Jihad: On the Internationalisation of Islamist Terrorism (Columbia UP, 2013)provides an [...]

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