Gomorrah: A Personal Journey into the Violent International Empire of Naples' Organized Crime System

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Overview

A groundbreaking major bestseller in Italy, Gomorrah is Roberto Saviano's gripping nonfiction account of the decline of Naples under the rule of the Camorra, an organized crime network with a large international reach and stakes in construction, high fashion, illicit drugs, and toxic-waste disposal. Known by insiders as "the System," the Camorra affects cities and villages along the Neapolitan coast and is the deciding factor in why Campania, for instance, has the highest murder rate in all of Europe and why ...
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Overview

A groundbreaking major bestseller in Italy, Gomorrah is Roberto Saviano's gripping nonfiction account of the decline of Naples under the rule of the Camorra, an organized crime network with a large international reach and stakes in construction, high fashion, illicit drugs, and toxic-waste disposal. Known by insiders as "the System," the Camorra affects cities and villages along the Neapolitan coast and is the deciding factor in why Campania, for instance, has the highest murder rate in all of Europe and why cancer levels there have skyrocketed in recent years.

Saviano tells of huge cargoes of Chinese goods that are shipped to Naples and then quickly distributed unchecked across Europe. He investigates the Camorra's control of thousands of Chinese factories contracted to manufacture fashion goods, legally and illegally, for distribution around the world, and relates the chilling details of how the abusive handling of toxic waste is causing devastating pollution not only for Naples but also China and Somalia. In pursuit of his subject, Saviano worked as an assistant at a Chinese textile manufacturer, as a waiter at a Camorra wedding, and on a construction site. A native of the region, he recalls seeing his first murder at the age of fourteen and how his own father, a doctor, suffered a brutal beating for trying to aid an eighteen-year-old victim who had been left for dead in the street.

Gomorrah is a bold and important work of investigative writing that holds global significance, one heroic young man's impassioned story of a place under the rule of a murderous organization.

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Editorial Reviews

Anthony Shugaar
…in October, an Italian business association reported that the largest sector of the country's economy is organized crime, accounting for an estimated 7 percent of its gross domestic product. That's $127 billion, more than twice the annual revenue of Microsoft. To put flesh on that unsettling X-ray of Italian life, read Roberto Saviano's astonishing Gomorrah. The book is subtitled "A Personal Journey Into the Violent International Empire of Naples' Organized Crime System," and both personal and violent it is. Saviano's tour of his native Naples shows us the heart of what can only be called a company town for organized crime, with industrial toxins in great abundance…Saviano gallops straight into the maw of the inferno, using a hard-boiled style that has only begun to take root in Italian media. Naples is where he grew up, the Neapolitans are his people, and while the eyewitness accounts he brings to the page—stories of murderous barbarity and devastating debasement—could have been told by one of Dashiell Hammett's chilly protagonists, Saviano is no cold-blooded cynic. If there is a literary model at work here, it might be the Lamentations of Jeremiah.
—The Washington Post
William Grimes
Objective, analytic journalism is foreign to Mr. Saviano. The subject at hand is too personal, and in any case he takes a fiery, romantic view of the reporter's mission. "I believe that the way to truly understand, to get to the bottom of things, is to smell the hot breath of reality, to touch the nitty-gritty," he writes…The up-close style and the floridly noir prose make for vivid scenes. When he's concentrating properly, Mr. Saviano also exposes the nuts and bolts of Camorra operations, complete with names and precise figures. His account of the drug trade, which the Camorra has shrewdly expanded to serve the casual, middle-class customer, is a model of muckraking journalism.
—The New York Times
Rachel Donadio
A powerful work of reportage…Part economic analysis, part social history, part cri de coeur, this crushing testimonial is the most important book to come out of Italy in years. Like Conrad's London, Saviano's Naples is also one of the dark places of the earth. He tugged a loose thread in the fabric of Italian bourgeois respectability and kept pulling until nothing was left.
—The New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly

Saviano has created a perfectly realized, morally compelling journey through the brutal world of contemporary Italian mob life in this ceaselessly violent tale of the Camorra, a network of thugs, exploiters and killers who run Naples and the surrounding countryside. Armed with a police band radio, Saviano visits one crime scene after another, recording the final words and circumstances of the dying and dead. The murders described are savage, cruel and senseless: "The head... hadn't been cut off with a hatchet, a clean blow, but with a metal grinder: the kind of circular saw welders use to polish soldering. The worst possible tool, and thus the most obvious choice." Jewiss's translation of Saviano's intense prose flows beautifully from the pestilence and degradation of everyday life in the teeming Neapolitan slums to the futile efforts of the police to control the rich, organic chaos that is the only way the Camorra know how to live. A stunning achievement, this is a must-read for anyone interested in the state of contemporary Europe. (Nov.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

Naples-born investigative reporter Saviano has dedicated himself to investigating the Camorra, an organized crime system that operates in Naples and the Campania region of Italy. The Camorra has infiltrated the fashion, construction, and toxic waste disposal industries of Italy, giving them virtual control of the region, with influence ultimately extending into the global economy. Its bloody disputes have helped make the region's murder rate the highest in Europe. Saviano grew up seeing the casual public brutality of the System (as they call themselves) and was outraged at the way many of the poor looked up to the leaders as examples of success. This book, a best seller in Italy and winner there of the 2006 Viareggio Literary Prize, exposes the history, the clan wars, and the massive drug/clothing/toxic waste empire of Naples's answer to the Mafia (which itself originated in Sicily). Musically translated by Jewiss (senior lecturer, Trinity Coll., CT, Rome campus), this stunning expose from a truly courageous informant belongs in all libraries.
—Deirdre Bray Root

Kirkus Reviews
Remember when the Mob was merely corrupt, savage and murderous? It's still all those things, but, as Neapolitan philosopher Saviano writes, it's also become a globalized multinational corporation with a long reach. "The Camorra," laments Saviano, "is made up of groups that suck like voracious lice, thus hindering all economic development, and others that operate as instant innovators, pushing their businesses to new heights of development and trade." Operating on the vicious margins, but also in the space that government and development agencies might otherwise occupy, the Neapolitan crime syndicates, with their "flexible, federalist structure," are far more populous than the Calabrian 'Ndrangheta or the Sicilian Mafia and cast a wider net. They set up companies, pull down others, band together and pull apart. Far from the thugs who conspired in postwar Italy to smuggle cigarettes in from Montenegro without paying taxes, they have their fingers in every aspect of the consumer economy, for "consumer goods have replaced the nicotine habit as the new contraband." Say "consumer goods," and you immediately implicate the Chinese, whose own organized crime groups care little about how their wares enter the European market so long as they get there. (The American market, too-buy an Italian-designer anything, and the chances are good that it was made in China.) By Saviano's calculation, 1.6 million tons of Chinese goods enter the port of Naples legally, but at least another million tons "pass through without leaving a trace." The Chinese themselves do-visit a morgue in Naples, and the Asian bodies-in the wrong place at the wrong time-are everywhere. Saviano also offers an interesting bonus:instructions on gun use. As one older Camorrista complains, "Ever since Tarantino, these guys don't know the right way to shoot!"Saviano's account is sometimes florid-the consequence of sending a poet to do a journalist's work-but endlessly eye-opening and sobering.
From the Publisher
"A perfectly realized, morally compelling journey through the brutal world of contemporary Italian mob life.... A stunning achievement, this is a must-read." —-Publishers Weekly Starred Review
The Barnes & Noble Review
Italian journalist Roberto Saviano doesn't hide his agenda in this, his first book -- a passionate indictment of organized crime's stranglehold on his native Naples and its surrounding province of Campania. The fury of his prose sometimes leads him into excess, but the goal is always clear: to name names, bear witness, and celebrate the few heroes who've emerged in the ongoing struggle against the Camorra, Campania's answer to the Sicilian Mafia and the Calabrian 'Ndrangheta. A bestseller in Europe, Saviano's portrait of this modern "Gomorrah" encompasses street-level hustlers and high-living bosses, and the facts, such as can be recorded, suggest a massive underground economy as corrupt as any third-world kleptocracy, and with leaders just as violent. While American tourists enjoy lounging under the Tuscan sun, we might consider that it's very much at the expense of southern Italians who are living on top of toxic waste transported from the North.

Forget everything you think you know about Italian crime from The Godfather and its progeny. The style of the present-day Camorra takes it cue from latter-day Hollywood: Think Al Pacino's coked-up and crazed performance in Scarface rather than his soberly calculating Michael Corleone. In Saviano's telling, the look is now more a combination of Matrix-chic with hip-hop bling, and there's the added presence of gangster women, all tricked out like Uma Thurman in Kill Bill. But those are mere surface distinctions. More important, the Camorra is far more powerful than the old-school mobsters, and their organization is nothing like the neat flowcharts familiar from FBI Mafia briefings, mapping a clear hierarchy, a select membership of made men, and a ironclad code of behavior. The Camorra, in contrast, has more in common with primitive tribes -- it's a loose system of competing clans all with overlapping territories and rival economic interests. And they employ just about anyone and everyone -- which is their real source of power, since no one wants to undermine the only game in town.

In the historically impoverished South, legitimate work has always been hard to come by, and the once-rural economy collapsed long ago. To be sure, there's factory work these days, especially in the garment industry, but Saviano's description of these unregulated sweatshops is devastating. Owned by clan families, these manufacturers stay off the charts in every regard: using contraband fabrics from overseas, employing unorganized labor, and avoiding all tax consequences, they supply the fashionable North and beyond with much of its designer product, all labeled "made in Italy." It's a far more sophisticated -- and lucrative- scam than the postwar cigarette smuggling by which many Camoristas made their bones.

Saviano develops his own bona fides by hanging out at the margins of the underworld, scooting around Naples and its northern suburban wasteland on his Vespa. He witnesses the aftermath of clan murders; he takes a temporary job unloading contraband at the port; and he finds himself waist-deep in the illegally dumped toxic sludge that's covering more and more of his native soil. After underground factories and street-level drug dealing, the main business of the clans is -- yes, Sopranos fans -- cement and waste, the two products that best define the Camorra. First, they buy up whatever available land they can find, hire young drivers to dump the often-hazardous trash from the North, and then use their own construction crews to cement over the top. But it doesn't stop there: Saviano describes the burgeoning suburban housing developments built on these sites: concrete structures at rock-bottom prices. The South threatens to become one big Love Canal.

In Saviano's view, Camorra infighting captures the attention of authorities when it spills the blood of ordinary people, which happens far more often than old-fashioned mob codes allowed. Competing clans, with AK-47s as the weapon of choice, wipe each other out in plain view, regardless of who's standing nearby, and they don't stop with members but kill parents, wives, and children as well. According to Saviano, Campania leads Europe in murders, and among the dead is Don Peppino Diana, one of the real heroes of this mostly depressing narrative. Not content with simply killing this courageous, outspoken priest, the clan then vilified him in a newspaper they owned, hoping to prevent his becoming a symbol of struggle. (They failed: A foster children's center in his memory now stands on the site of a lavish villa seized from the Casalesi clan.) A brave young schoolteacher who testified against a clan member in a murder trial, which led to a conviction, is luckily still alive, but she was ostracized by her community. The code of silence prevails in Campania, and those who break it end up leaving, which is what everyone recommends Saviano to do throughout his agonizing journeys.

And now he has. According to the latest news, Saviano is a man without a country. It's easy to see why. The countless names mentioned here will mean little to American readers, but if his portraits of major Camorra members are accurate -- and there's no reason to believe they aren't -- then he's identified some scary characters, many with those silly nicknames that we all too often find perversely amusing. But Saviano has a long memory and can't forget the time his father, a doctor working on an ambulance, was beaten bloody for mending a patient the clan wanted dead. The arm of this ambitious mob extends deep into the culture, and into local politics. Time after time, the national government has dissolved southern town councils, who dole out contracts to the clans and turn their heads from their worst offenses. If nothing else, Saviano hopes his book will bring to the Camorra the kind of attention focused on the Mafia -- more journalists, more government intervention, more international awareness.

The evidence is here, even if Saviano himself gets in the way sometimes: his hard-boiled prose is too often overcooked. Describing the "rubbish" of southern Italy, Saviano writes that it's "like a pregnant belly, but the fetus never grows; it aborts money, then immediately becomes pregnant again, only to abort and conceive again, to the point where the body is ruined, the arteries clogged, the lungs filled, the synapses destroyed." But the phone transcripts, trial testimony, and government records don't exaggerate. There's a crisis in Campania, and Saviano has done a marvelous job: He's survived to tell the truth. --Thomas DePietro

Thomas DePietro, a former contributing editor of Kirkus Reviews, has also published in Commonweal, The Nation, and The New York Times Book Review. He edited Conversations with Don DeLillo, and his book on Kingsley Amis is forthcoming in 2008.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374165277
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 10/30/2007
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.25 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author


Roberto Saviano's first book, Gomorrah, won the 2006 Viareggio Literary Prize.

Audiobook veteran Michael Kramer has recorded more than two hundred audiobooks for trade publishers and many more for the Library of Congress Talking Books program. An AudioFile Earphones Award winner and an Audie Award nominee, he earned a Publishers Weekly Listen-Up Award for his reading of Savages by Don Winslow.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

The container swayed as the crane hoisted it onto the ship. The spreader, which hooks the container to the crane, was unable to control its movement, so it seemed to float in the air. The hatches, which had been improperly closed, suddenly sprang open, and dozens of bodies started raining down. They looked like mannequins. But when they hit the ground, their heads split open, as if their skulls were real. And they were. Men, women, even a few children, came tumbling out of the container. All dead. Frozen, stacked one on top of another, packed like sardines. These were the Chinese who never die. The eternal ones, who trade identity papers among themselves. So this is where they’d ended up, the bodies that in the wildest fantasies might have been cooked in Chinese restaurants, buried in fields beside factories, or tossed into the mouth of Vesuvius. Here they were. Spilling from the container by the dozen, their names scribbled on tags and tied with string around their necks. They’d all put aside money so they could be buried in China, back in their hometowns, a percentage withheld from their salaries to guarantee their return voyage once they were dead. A space in a container and a hole in some strip of Chinese soil. The port crane operator covered his face with his hands as he told me about it, eyeing me through his fingers. As if the mask of his hands might give him the courage to speak. He’d seen the bodies fall, but there’d been no need to sound the alarm. He merely lowered the container to the ground, and dozens of people appeared out of nowhere to put everyone back inside and hose down the remains. That’s how it went. He still couldn’t believe it and hoped he was hallucinating, due to too much overtime. Then he closed his fingers, completely covering his eyes. He kept on whimpering, but I couldn’t understand what he was saying.

Everything that exists passes through here. Through the port of Naples. There’s not a product, fabric, piece of plastic, toy, hammer, shoe, screwdriver, bolt, video game, jacket, pair of pants, drill, or watch that doesn’t come through the port. The port of Naples is an open wound. The end point for the interminable voyage that merchandise makes. Ships enter the gulf and come to the dock like babies to the breast, except that they’re here to be milked, not fed. The port of Naples is the hole in the earth out of which what’s made in China comes. The Far East, as reporters still like to call it. Far. Extremely far. Practically unimaginable. Closing my eyes, I see kimonos, Marco Polo’s beard, Bruce Lee kicking in midair. But in fact this East is more closely linked to the port of Naples than to any other place. There’s nothing far about the East here. It should be called the extremely near East, the least East. Everything made in China is poured out here. Like a bucket of water dumped into a hole in the sand. The water eats the sand, and the hole gets bigger and deeper. The port of Naples handles 20 percent of the value of Italian textile imports from China, but more than 70 percent of the quantity. It’s a bizarre thing, hard to understand, yet merchandise possesses a rare magic: it manages both to be and not to be, to arrive without ever reaching its destination, to cost the customer a great deal despite its poor quality, and to have little tax value in spite of being worth a huge amount. Textiles fall under quite a few product classifications, and a mere stroke of the pen on the shipping manifest can radically lower price and VAT. In the silence of the port’s black hole, the molecular structure of merchandise seems to break down, only to recompose once it gets beyond the perimeter of the coast. Goods have to leave the port immediately. Everything happens so quickly that they disappear in the process, evaporate as if they’d never existed. As if nothing had happened, as if it had all been simply an act. An imaginary voyage, a false landing, a phantom ship, evanescent cargo. Goods need to arrive in the buy-er’s hands without leaving any drool to mark their route, they have to reach their warehouse quickly, right away, before time can even begin—time that might allow for an inspection. Hundreds of pounds of merchandise move as if they were a package hand-delivered by the mailman. In the port of Naples—330 acres spread out along seven miles of coastline—time undergoes unique expansions and contractions. Things that take an hour elsewhere seem to happen here in less than a minute. Here the proverbial slowness that makes the Neapolitan’s every move molasses-like is quashed, confuted, negated. The ruthless swiftness of Chinese merchandise overruns the temporal dimension of customs inspections, killing time itself. A massacre of minutes, a slaughter of seconds stolen from the records, chased by trucks, hurried along by cranes, helped by forklifts that disembowel the containers.

COSCO, the largest Chinese state-owned shipping company, with the world’s third-largest fleet, operates in the port of Naples in consort with MSC, a Geneva-based company that owns the world’s second-largest commercial fleet. The Swiss and Chinese decided to pool together and invest heavily in Naples, where they manage the largest cargo terminal. With over 3,000 feet of pier, nearly a million and a half square feet of terminal, and more than 300,000 square feet of outdoor space at their disposal, they absorb almost all the traffic in transit for Europe. You have to reconfigure your imagination to try to understand the port of Naples as the bottom rung of the ladder of Chinese production. The biblical image seems appropriate: the eye of the needle is the port, and the camel that has to pass through it are the ships. Enormous vessels line up single file out in the gulf and await their turn amid the confusion of pitching sterns and colliding bows; rumbling with heaving iron, the sheet metal and screws slowly penetrate the tiny Neapolitan opening. It is as if the anus of the sea were opening out, causing great pain to the sphincter muscles.

But no. It’s not like that. There’s no apparent confusion. The ships all come and go in orderly fashion, or at least that’s how it looks from dry land. Yet 150,000 containers pass through here every year. Whole cities of merchandise get built on the quays, only to be hauled away. A port is measured by its speed, and every bureaucratic sluggishness, every meticulous inspection, transforms the cheetah of transport into a slow and lumbering sloth.

I always get lost on the pier. Bausan pier is like something made out of LEGO blocks. An immense construction that seems not so much to occupy space as to invent it. One corner looks like it’s covered with wasps’ nests. An entire wall of bastard beehives: thousands of electrical outlets that feed the “reefers,” or refrigerator containers. All the TV dinners and fish sticks in the world are crammed into these icy containers. At Bausan pier I feel as if I’m seeing the port of entry for all the merchandise that mankind produces, where it spends its last night before being sold. It’s like contemplating the origins of the world. The clothes young Parisians will wear for a month, the fish sticks that Brescians will eat for a year, the watches Catalans will adorn their wrists with, and the silk for every English dress for an entire season—all pass through here in a few hours. It would be interesting to read someplace not just where goods are manufactured, but the route they take to land in the hands of the buyer. Products have multiple, hybrid, and illegitimate citizenship. Half-born in the middle of China, they’re finished on the outskirts of some Slavic city, brought to perfection in northeastern Italy, packaged in Puglia or north of Tirana in Albania, and finally end up in a warehouse somewhere in Europe. No human being could ever have the rights of mobility that merchandise has. Every fragment of the journey, with its accidental and official routes, finds its fixed point in Naples. When the enormous container ships first enter the gulf and slowly approach the pier, they seem like lumbering mammoths of sheet metal and chains, the rusted sutures on their sides oozing water; but when they berth, they become nimble creatures. You’d expect these ships to carry a sizable crew, but instead they disgorge handfuls of little men who seem incapable of taming these brutes on the open ocean.

The first time I saw a Chinese vessel dock, I felt as if I were looking at the production of the whole world. I was unable to count the containers, to quantify them. I couldn’t keep track of them all. It might seem absurd not to be able to put a number on things, but I kept losing count, the figures were too big and got mixed up in my head.

These days the merchandise unloaded in Naples is almost exclusively Chinese—1.6 million tons annually. Registered merchandise, that is. At least another million tons pass through without leaving a trace. According to the Italian Customs Agency, 60 percent of the goods arriving in Naples escape official customs inspection, 20 percent of the bills of entry go unchecked, and fifty thousand shipments are contraband, 99 percent of them from China—all for an estimated 200 million euros in evaded taxes each semester. The containers that need to disappear before being inspected are in the first row. Every container is duly numbered, but the numbers on many of them are identical. So one inspected container baptizes all the illegal ones with the same number. What gets unloaded on Monday can be for sale in Modena or Genoa or in the shop windows of Bonn or Munich by Thursday. Lots of merchandise on the Italian market is supposedly only in transit, but the magic of customs makes transit stationary. The grammar of merchandise has one syntax for documents and another for commerce. In April 2005, the Antifraud unit of Italian Customs, which had by chance launched four separate operations nearly simultaneously, sequestered 24,000 pairs of jeans intended for the French market; 51,000 items from Bangladesh labeled “Made in Italy”; 450,000 figurines, puppets, Barbies, and Spider-men; and another 46,000 plastic toys—for a total value of approximately 36 million euros. Just a small serving of the economy that was making its way through the port of Naples in a few hours. And from the port to the world. On it goes, all day, every day. These slices of the economy are becoming a staple diet.

The port is detached from the city. An infected appendix, never quite degenerating into peritonitis, always there in the abdomen of the coastline. A desert hemmed in by water and earth, but which seems to belong to neither land nor sea. A grounded amphibian, a marine metamorphosis. A new formation created from the dirt, garbage, and odds and ends that the tide has carried ashore over the years. Ships empty their latrines and clean their holds, dripping yellow foam into the water; motorboats and yachts, their engines belching, tidy up by tossing everything into the garbage can that is the sea. The soggy mass forms a hard crust all along the coastline. The sun kindles the mirage of water, but the surface of the sea gleams like trash bags. Black ones. The gulf looks percolated, a giant tub of sludge. The wharf with its thousands of multicolored containers seems an uncrossable border: Naples is encircled by walls of merchandise. But the walls don’t defend the city; on the contrary, it’s the city that defends the walls. Yet there are no armies of longshoremen, no romantic riffraff at the port. One imagines it full of commotion, men coming and going, scars and incomprehensible languages, a frenzy of people. Instead, the silence of a mechanized factory reigns. There doesn’t seem to be anyone around anymore, and the containers, ships, and trucks seem animated by perpetual motion. A silent swiftness.

Excerpted from Gomorrah by Roberto Saviano. Copyright © 2007 by Arnoldo Mondadori Editore S.p.A., Milan Translation copyright © 2007 by Virginia Jewiss. Published in November 2007 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 29, 2008

    5 Starts for courage: He broke the silence and risked his life

    If you have been to Italy, surely you have seen people who sell counterfeit goods on the street ¿ Prada purses, Gucci belt, Armani wallet, pirated CD and DVD, etc. Surprisingly, most of them are not made in China, but in underground factories in Naples, the same type of factories that makes dresses for Hollywood stars. This is however, only the beginning of the story. This is a story of the underground economy of Naples, the desperation of its society and underclass, and the exploitation by the sophisticated yet short sighted criminals. The tales are not unlike those of the underground economy of New York and Chicago, but southern Italian style. With my busy schedule running a business, these days it's hard for me to take some time and read a book in a short time. However, this book was so compelling I finished it in four days. There are three big criminal organizations in Italy: Cosa Costra (commonly known as Mafia) from Sicily, `Ngrangheta of Calabria, and the Camorra of Campania. This book is about the camorra. First, to understand why the author is under 24-hour police protection: This is not the first book written about the camorra or the mafia, in Italy or abroad. However, his story telling style was compelling enough to make the book a best seller in Italy and abroad. This brought to light the dirty and dark secrets of the criminal underworld in a concrete term - something you can identify with (do they control what you eat?), it infuriates you and something you react strongly. It's not just about talking about the camorra in abstract terms, but to name names, name places, and describe in vivid details about the people, their ¿businesses¿, and places. So the public realize the extent of the problem and how it affects the smallest things like milk and cookie delivery to cancer rates. Organized crime societies thrives on secrecy and silence, there is a term for silence among the camorra 'omerta'. If no one speaks about it and carry on with his life, or speak about it in an abstract term like 'oh it's the mafia what can I do about it?' then the camorra carries on their activities. However, with the amount of attention the author brought, especially attention to details, angered the criminals because the public gets a real view of how the system function and is lubricated. Hence they want the author dead. He broke the code of 'omerta'. That's why police protection is assigned to him. Remember, if you dare to speak up against their interest, they dare to silence you in the most callous way - school teacher, shop owner, ex-member, judge, lawyer, politicians, it doesn't matter. The book shows that while claiming to be Catholics, the Camorra is even willing to take the life of a priest. I lived in that region. In fact, where I lived had its government dissolved more times than any other places in Italy due to mafia infiltration. I have seen around here urban planning disaster, environmental disaster, and cultural disaster. While the region of Campania has some beautiful parts, it is not far fetched to say it¿s a third world country within a major EU country. This book explores many subjects that I have witnessed with my own eyes: the annual garbage crisis where you can¿t even walk on the sidewalk, and the hoodlums and idiots who set the trashes on fire to worsen the crisis the store that was burned down because the owner was courageous and refuse to pay the Camorra a 'protection' fee the unjustifiable number of supermarkets and shopping centers in a region where the economy at the bottom. I have been to Pozzuoli, dined in Quatieri Spagnoli (Spanish Quarter), and it's true, many of these towns are a mess. This book helped to see what the towns are the way they are, beyond the aesthetical aspect. I didn¿t know about the open drug market where the Camorra test new drug on buyers to see if they die to determine the right mix. The economy is in the drain, but new shopping centers keep popping up. Will th

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2014

    I'm not certain of why someone would choose to be in incognito f

    I'm not certain of why someone would choose to be in incognito for the rest of their lives. Its certainly not a way of living. putting your family and loved ones at risk its not worth any awards. great story tho.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2010

    Gripping

    Very informative

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  • Posted May 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The Business We've Chosen

    Saviano abandons journalistic detachment and dives into the Napoli organized crime families as only a native with something at stake could. The Camorra are the economic engine for Italy, masterfully illustrated and explained by Saviano. This is a fun read as Saviano mixes econimics, popular culture, and mythology in his writing.

    A sad comment on Italy, leaving the impression of a failed state. Having been there on a number of occasions, it's a miracle anything works.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2009

    Stunning

    Saviano is a real hero. The book is well written and very courageous.

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