The Honored Society: A Portrait of Italy's Most Powerful Mafia

Overview

In the early hours of an August 2007 morning a gunfight broke out in an Italian restaurant in Duisburg, Germany; in less than five minutes over seventy shots were fired into the bodies of six men. Both the victims and the assassins were members of the 'Ndrangheta crime organization. Calabria's Mafia had brazenly shown its savage influence outside Italy for the first time.

In The Honored Society award-winning investigative reporter Petra Reski reveals the Mafia menace lurking ...

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The Honored Society: A Portrait of Italy's Most Powerful Mafia

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Overview

In the early hours of an August 2007 morning a gunfight broke out in an Italian restaurant in Duisburg, Germany; in less than five minutes over seventy shots were fired into the bodies of six men. Both the victims and the assassins were members of the 'Ndrangheta crime organization. Calabria's Mafia had brazenly shown its savage influence outside Italy for the first time.

In The Honored Society award-winning investigative reporter Petra Reski reveals the Mafia menace lurking throughout the world— from espresso bars in Palermo to European halls of parliament to the corporate headquarters of enormous agricultural firms. In haunting and exquisite prose she explores the Byzantine structure of the 'Ndrangheta, Cosa Nostra and other mafia clans throughout Italy — the code they live by, the destruction they wreak, how they operate within the country and how they operate internationally. She shows how these syndicates dominate everything from nuclear waste disposal to hotel chains to the marijuana trade in Australia and cocaine trafficked throughout the world. Reski shows how figures such as Silvio Berlusconi were made by the Mafia, and how those who dared to defy its codes were broken. A searing portrait of the criminals who have come to control not only Italy but vast swathes of the globe, The Honored Society is a journalistic tour de force.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
German investigative journalist Reski explores the far-reaching influence of the various Mafia clans, from the Sicilian Cosa Nostra to the Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta, in this intriguing if scattered account of the power of organized crime. While the Cosa Nostra may be the most publicly recognizable Mafia organization, it’s the ‘Ndrangheta that is behind more international drug running and weapons dealing, among other illegal activities. Spurred on by the August 2007 murders in Germany of six ‘Ndrangheta members—which finally shed light on the organization’s lethal ways—Reski crisscrosses Italy in search of the group’s and others’ origins. The Cosa Nostra is organized vertically, with power consolidated at the top in a few key individuals, while the ‘Ndrangheta is structured horizontally, meaning that should one of its members decide to cooperate with the police, he or she could not betray anyone higher up. Reski continually stresses the Mafia organizations’ insidious nature in Italy and abroad as she visits town after town where the mob controls everything from politics to the church. While her expertise is never in doubt, Reski’s mixture of personal anecdotes and reportage often leaves the reader wishing she’d commit to one or the other. Agent: George Lucas, Inkwell Management. (Jan. 8)
From the Publisher
Donna Leon
“Everything I know about the Mafia, I owe to Petra Reski."
 Kirkus Reviews
“Journalist Reski personalizes her longtime coverage of the Italian Mafia in this short recent history of the organization…. [E]ngrossing.”
 
Irish Times (praise for the UK edition)
“Reski’s book, written in an informal, first-person style rather than in academic mode,… takes readers on a journey through just about all the horror stories that Mafia crime has generated in Italy in the last 30 years.”
 
Financial Times (praise for the UK edition)
“[A] depressing tale of the mafia grip on society…. Reski’s reportage colourfully brings to life the sights, smells and sounds of Sicily, highlighting the robustly supportive role given to mafia murderers by their womenfolk.... [C]ompelling.”

Publishers Weekly“[I]ntriguing…. Reski continually stresses the Mafia organizations’ insidious nature in Italy and abroad as she visits town after town where the mob controls everything from politics to the church…. [H]er expertise is never in doubt.”

Julia Jenkins, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia, for Shelf Awareness for Readers“[Reski’s] sketches of these ‘bad guys’ and their adversaries are intimate and contemplative, rooted in years of experience. Even while excoriating the actions and influence of the Mafia, she seems to feel respect, even affection, toward certain individuals, revealing a conflicted relationship much like the one she describes between the Italian public and its famous criminal organization…. [A] quiet poetry lurks in certain turns of phrase and carefully crafted images. The Honored Society is an unusually structured view into the strange and powerful world of the Italian Mafia.”

Philadelphia Inquirer

"As a journalist, Reski knows her topic as well as or better than anyone in the business. As a writer, she brings both insight and a sad poetry to her story."

New York Times

"[Readers] will not soon forget Reski's eerie descriptions of the tattered region of Calabria, in southern Italy, where the 'Ndrangheta' controls every breath anyone takes, every inch of road, every thought."

Library Journal
"This grim social and political history of the wildly successful criminal organizations hiding in plain sight throughout Italy will interest European history buffs, as well as Mafia and true crime fans."

Kirkus Reviews
Journalist Reski personalizes her longtime coverage of the Italian Mafia in this short recent history of the organization. The author, who grew up in Germany, prefaces the book with an account of what she calls the "German mafia massacre," which she claims brought the Mafia's presence outside of Italy into the spotlight. The night when six Italian men were murdered in a German town sparked her writing of this book, which was published in Germany in 2008; Reski was immediately sued due to its contents. The trial resulted in some redacted passages, left as such for this American release. The blacked-out paragraphs are frustrating, a visible reminder of missing information that seems more tantalizing for its absence. The subject matter is mostly engrossing, but the treatment leaves something to be desired. The narrative is disjointed throughout, with a structure that leads to confusion for those not already familiar with the events. Reski covers major changes in law enforcement and the Mafia, not chronologically but in a series of insert-memory-here asides. While each memory's story is pertinent to an understanding of the many Mafia branches firmly rooted in Italy, it is easy to lose track of the history, particularly because many of the stories are intertwined. Will appeal to those interested in the Mafia, but casual readers may get caught up looking for the story and have a hard time absorbing the material.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781568589732
  • Publisher: Nation Books
  • Publication date: 1/8/2013
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 941,215
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

An award-winning investigative journalist, Petra Reski writes regularly for publications like GEO, DIE ZEIT, Merian and Brigitte, as well as for radio. She is the author of several books on the Mafia. Born in Kamen, Germany, she has lived in Italy since 1989.

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Table of Contents

Map of Southern Italy ix

Preface xi

Marcello Fava 1

Rosaria Schifani 23

San Luca 35

Don Pino 45

Letizia 63

Padre Frittitta 81

Corleone 95

Palace of Poison 113

Silvio Berlusconi and Marcello Dell'Utri 127

Anna Palma 141

Heinz Sprenger 149

Mafia Women 159

Carla Madonia 179

Rosalba Di Gregorio 191

Carmine Sarno 215

Messina Denaro 237

Dramatis Personae 253

About the Author 269

Index 271

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