Cosa Nostra: A History of the Sicilian Mafia

Overview

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 ...

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Overview

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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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The inspiration of far too much pulpy entertainment, the Italian mobsters under John Dickie's miscroscope in Cosa Nostra have long cultivated outsiders' tendencies to romanticize their supposed honor and loyalty. But Dickie demonstrates definitively that the centuries-old mafia has never been more than an illegal business and shadow state pursuing 'power and money by cultivating the art of killing people.'"—The Washington Post

"His is the first truly definitive English-language study of this myth-laden subject, and it is a pleasure to read...his book is notable for shrewd judgments couched in language that is vibrantly memorable. His acquaintance with the island and his immersion in the wider modern Italian culture also allow him to convey the noxious atmo-sphere of corruption with flair."—Christopher Sylvester, The Sunday Times (London)

"A serious contribution to modern Italian history . . . it can be safely predicted that Dickie's book will be a sensation, not least because it has a dozen potential movies in it."—Clive James, Times Literary Supplement

"I couldn't put it down. His archival sleuthing is yoked to his powerful, often coruscating storytelling to create a chilling account of the mafia's sinister, horrific reality."—John Guy, The Sunday Times

"Absorbing . . . He succeeds in being both opinionated and precise and has performed a necessary work of rebranding."—Financial Times

"Riveting"—Sunday Telegraph

"Vibrant, muscular and highly readable."—Clare Longrigg, Guardian

"Lucid . . . grimly readable."—Daily Telegraph

"A brave work."—Mail on Sunday

"Highly readable . . . compelling. The narrative is entertaining and, at times, as chilling as the darkest crime fiction. It combines compelling horror with clear, rational analysis."—Glasgow Herald

"Cosa Nostra overflows with wonderful vignettes about mafia codes of conduct . . . engrossing."—John Naughton, 0 Word

"A fascinating book. Cosa Nostra combines scholarship with a rip-roaring read."—Sunday Herald

"Monumental and gripping."—Andrew Marr, BBC Radio 4's Start the Week

Library Journal
Journalist Dickie (Italian studies, University Coll., London) has written a fascinating history of the Mafia in Sicily from the 1860s through the early 21st century. Having emerged in and around Palermo during the troubled 1860s with the attempt to incorporate the island into the new Italian state, the Mafia gained increasing control over local government using threats and murder; by the 1870s, Sicilian politicians versed in the system had entered the central government. Mussolini moved to destroy the influences of the bosses during the 1920s and 1930s, but many escaped by emigrating to the United States, helping to build the American Mafia, which in turn helped reestablish the Mafia in Sicily at the end of World War II. Public outcry finally led to a crackdown during the 1990s. Drawing on interviews as well as secondary sources like newspaper articles, Dickie portrays the Mafia as containing elements of an illegal business, a sworn secret society, and a shadow state operating within the larger nation-state. This solid, scholarly contribution is broader and more accessible than Henner Hess's Mafia and Mafiosi: Origins, Power and Myth or Jane and Peter Schneide's Reversible Destiny: Mafia, Antimafia and the Struggle for Palermo. Recommended for all libraries.-Stephen L. Hupp, West Virginia Univ. Lib., Parkersburg Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781403970428
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 10/21/2005
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 465,556
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

John Dickie is a historian and journalist. He lectures in Italian Studies at University College London and has written on many aspects of Italian life.

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Table of Contents

Prologue

• Introduction

• Men of Honour

• The Genesis of the Mafia, 1860-1876

• The Mafia Enters the Italian System, 1876-1890

• Corruption in High Places, 1890-1904

• Socialism, Fascism, Mafia, 1893-1943

• The Mafia Establishes Itself in America, 1900-1941

• War and Rebirth, 1943-1950

• God, Concrete, Heroin, and Cosa Nostra, 1950-1963

• The "First" Mafia War and its Consequences, 1962-1969

• The Origins of the Second Mafia War, 1970-1982

• Terra Infidelium, 1983-1992

• Bombs and Submersion, 1992-2003

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2006

    Good and Bad

    This book accomplishes the feat of being both intriguing and boring at the same time. The subject matter is sexy and holds your interest for a few chapters. However, the facts never come together to tell a complete story but rather a sequence of repetitive short stories. Definitely not a book you will read quickly. I recommend charting out the characters if you are really interested in the subject.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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