Midnight in Sicily: On Art, Feed, History, Travel and la Cosa Nostra

Overview

In late 1995 Giulio Andreotti, seven-time prime minister of Italy and once called "the finest political mind in Europe," went on trial both for murder and for his association with the Sicilian Mafia. With hundreds of witnesses still to be called, there is no end in sight to this corruption scandal, the largest ever in Italian history. Midnight in Sicily chronicles the development of these events, exposing how from the end of World War II to the present Italy's politicians became the accomplices of an organization...
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Overview

In late 1995 Giulio Andreotti, seven-time prime minister of Italy and once called "the finest political mind in Europe," went on trial both for murder and for his association with the Sicilian Mafia. With hundreds of witnesses still to be called, there is no end in sight to this corruption scandal, the largest ever in Italian history. Midnight in Sicily chronicles the development of these events, exposing how from the end of World War II to the present Italy's politicians became the accomplices of an organization involved in extortion, drugs, kidnapping, torture, murder, and terrorism. And there are links to international secret services, America, corrupt financiers, and the Vatican. Robb interviewed dozens of anti-Mafia politicians and prosecutors, as well as many private citizens enmeshed in an all-pervasive web. This story of the Mafia and its political friends is also the story of Sicily, its opulent coasts, its stark interior, its extraordinary art and rich food, and its layers of culture from east and west.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This is not a travel book, but rather a sophisticated attempt to make sense of the on-going prosecution of the 78-year-old seven-time prime minister, Giulio Andreotti, and of the intimate ties between the mafia and postwar Italian politics. An Australian by birth, Robb is not just parachuting in to gawk at the corruption that traded in votes, money, government contracts and even assassinations. A longtime resident of Naples, Robb adeptly puts the elusive world of organized crime (both Neapolitan and Sicilian) in a historical context that stretches back to the 19th century. In Sicily, however, organized crime is not an isolated institution and its pervasiveness is suggested by Robb's brilliant interweaving of writers such as Leonardo Sciascia, Giuseppe di Lampedusa, Pier Paolo Pasolini and the artist Renato Guttuso. Many artists saw a connection between the rich food of Sicily and the mob, which Robb expertly exploits, even repeating an ironic quote from Andreotti himself: "I found myself with my stomach full of marvelous but terrible food, the pasta con le sarde, the cassata and not only did I not understand a thing there but I was ill too. I wonder whether there's a connection between food like this and the growth of the mafia." Those who treasured Excellent Cadavers, Alexander Stille's magnificent study of magistrates Giovanni Falcone, Paolo Borsellino and the mafia "maxitrial," will appreciate Robb's epic story of evil and nobility. (Mar.) (PW best book of 1998)
Library Journal
The Mezzogiorno, or southern half of Italy below Rome, has always been considered exotic, untamed, and vaguely dangerous. Its people are a mix of Mediterranean and North African, with food, culture, and traditions that are mysterious and exotic to even its close northern compatriots. Robb (The Concept of Race in South Asia, Oxford Univ., 1997), a native Australian, lived in Italy for more than 14 years and writes an entertaining and richly textured expos of the place during those times. Having resided mostly in Palermo, he offers firsthand accounts of life there that include goings-on with the Mafia. He also gives insight into events of the mid-1990s, when seven-time Italian prime minister Giulio Andreotti came to trial for corruption and murder; his association with organized crime has led to a continuing social and political tumult that has affected even the Vatican. In this richly detailed work, one feels the heat and tastes the canoli that the author describes. Robb currently lives again in Melbourne, where he has written for the London Review of Books and the Times Literary Supplement. Recommended for Italian study collections.David Nudo, "Library Journal"
Sandra Mardenfeld
Brilliantly juxtaposes essays on food and art with historical accounts.
The New York Times Book Review
Kirkus Reviews
If it's true, as the Sicilian writer Leonardo Sciascia once said, that Sicily is a metaphor for the modern world, then author Robb has plumbed the depths of the world. Midnight in Sicily is a work from another age and era. Perhaps only in the 18th and 19th centuries would a foreigner have attempted to write about art, food, history, travel, and the Mafia together. But it soon becomes apparent that in the hands of Robb the landscape of Sicily becomes a metaphor for its history; history is inextricably tied to food; food is inseparable from art. Again, it takes a foreigner to see Italy and Sicily in clearer terms than the Sicilians and Italians themselves. The heart of darkness in this tale is Giulio Andreotti, the most powerful politician in postwar Italy: seven-time prime minister and once hailed as the greatest political mind since Bismarck. Ironically, Andreotti is a Roman who sold his soul in Sicily in a Faustian bargain to secure a political power base from which to rule Italy practically undisturbed for decades. Robb, who has written for the Times Literary Supplement and the London Review of Books, masterfully recreates scenes as benevolent as friends enjoying a meal or as diabolical as Andreotti's meeting with the most brutal crime boss in all of Italy. There are shrewd insights ("Beyond a certain threshold, power erases embarrassment"); telling phrases (Andreotti, leader of the Christian Democrats, is called a "sacristy rat"); and deep political/historical revelations (such as Cosa Nostra's permanent aim of eliminating the historic memory built up by those few who've understood that Cosa Nostra was a state within a state). A barbecue becomes an occasion for a learned excursuson the history of the fork. This narrative is itself an eclectic and sumptuous meal that—through no fault of the author's—leaves the diner with a bitter taste in the mouth.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375704581
  • Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/28/1999
  • Series: Vintage Departures Series
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 5.15 (w) x 7.99 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction                                                    12
I. A Market 15
II. A Secret Kiss 43
III. A Case of Knives 67
IV. A Thin Man and a Fat Man 97
V. A Prisoner 125
VI. A Bad Habit 151
VII. A Realist in Rome 177
VIII. A Woman's Life 197
IX. Friends 223
X. A Lover Denied 249
XI. A Maze Maker 273
XII. Midnight in Sicily 291
Some Players 319
Sources 321
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2009

    Incorrect title.

    Correct title:<BR/><BR/><BR/>Midnight in Sicily: On art, food, history, travel, and la Cosa Nostra.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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