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

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

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312427795
Publisher: Picador
Publication date: 11/25/2008
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)

About 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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Gomorrah

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


By Roberto Saviano, Virginia Jewiss

Picador

Copyright © 2006 Arnoldo Mondadori Editore S.p.A., Milan
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-312-42779-5



CHAPTER 1

THE PORT


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 here. 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 buyer'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. Tons 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 expands and contracts. 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 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, refined 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 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 on many the numbers 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, confiscated 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 getting bigger and bigger, becoming enormous slabs of the commercial cash cow.


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.

* * *

I used to go to the port to eat fish. Not that nearness to the sea means anything in terms of the quality of the restaurant. I'd find pumice stones, sand, even boiled seaweed in my food. The clams were fished up and tossed right into the pan. A guarantee of freshness, a Russian roulette of infection. But these days, with everyone resigned to the taste of farm-raised seafood, so squid tastes like chicken, you have to take risks if you want that indefinable sea flavor. And I was willing to take the risk. In a restaurant at the port, I asked about finding a place to rent.

"I don't know of anything, the houses around here are disappearing. The Chinese are taking them ..."

A big guy, but not as big as his voice, was holding court in the center of the room. He took a look at me and shouted, "There still might be something left!"

That was all he said. After we'd both finished our lunch, we made our way down the street that runs along the port. He didn't need to tell me to follow him. We came to the atrium of a ghostly apartment house and went up to the fourth floor, to the last remaining student apartment. They were kicking everyone out to make room for emptiness. Nothing was supposed to be left in the apartments. No cabinets, beds, paintings, bedside tables—not even walls. Only space. Space for cartons, space for enormous cardboard wardrobes, space for merchandise.

I was assigned a room of sorts. More of a cubbyhole, just big enough for a bed and a wardrobe. There was no talk of monthly rent, utility bills, or a phone hookup. He introduced me to four guys, my housemates, and that was that. They explained that this was the only apartment in the building that was still occupied and that it served as lodging for Xian, the Chinese man in charge of "the palazzi," the buildings. There was no rent to pay, but I was expected to work in the apartment-warehouses on the weekends. I'd gone looking for a room and ended up with a job. In the morning we'd knock down walls, and in the evening we'd clean up the wreckage—chunks of cement and brick—collecting the rubble in ordinary trash bags. Knocking down a wall makes unexpected sounds, not of stones being struck but of crystal being swept off a table onto the floor. Every apartment became a storehouse devoid of walls. I still can't figure out how the building where I worked remained standing. More than once we knowingly took out main walls. But the space was needed for the merchandise, and there's no contest between saving walls and storing products.

The idea of cramming apartments full of boxes dawned on some Chinese merchants after the Naples Port Authority presented its security plan to a delegation of U.S. congressmen. The plan calls for the port to be divided into four areas: cruise ships, pleasure craft, commercial vessels, and containers, with an evaluation of the risks in each area. After the plan was made public, many Chinese businessmen decided that the way to keep the police from feeling they had to intervene, the newspapers from writing about it constantly, or TV crews from sneaking around in search of a juicy story was to engulf everything in total silence. A rise in costs was another reason for making the merchandise more inconspicuous. Having it disappear into rented warehouses in remote parts of the countryside, amid landfill and tobacco fields, would have meant a lot of additional tractor-trailer traffic. This way, no more than ten vans, stuffed to the gills with boxes, go in and out of the port daily. Just a short trip and they're in the garages of the apartment houses facing the port. In and out, that's all it takes.

Nonexistent, imperceptible movements lost in the everyday traffic. Apartments rented. Gutted. Garage walls removed to make one continuous space. Cellars packed floor to ceiling with merchandise. Not one owner dared complain. Xian had paid them all: rent and compensation for unauthorized demolition. Thousands of boxes brought up in the elevator, which was rebuilt to move freight. A steel cage with tracks and a continuously moving platform. The work was concentrated in a few hours, and the choice of merchandise was not accidental. I happened to be unloading during the first days of July. The pay is good, but it's hard work if you aren't used to it. It was hot and humid, but no one dared ask about air-conditioning. No one. And not out of fear of punishment or because of cultural norms of obedience and submission. The people unloading came from every corner of the globe: Ghana, Ivory Coast, China, and Albania, as well as Naples, Calabria, and Lucania. No one asked because everyone understood that since merchandise doesn't suffer from the heat, there was no reason to waste money on air-conditioning.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Gomorrah by Roberto Saviano, Virginia Jewiss. Copyright © 2006 Arnoldo Mondadori Editore S.p.A., Milan. Excerpted by permission of Picador.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

Part One,
The Port,
Angelina Jolie,
The System,
The Secondigliano War,
Women,
Part Two,
Kalashnikov,
Cement,
Don Peppino Diana,
Hollywood,
Aberdeen, Mondragone,
Land of Fires,

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Gomorrah 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 35 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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
jcovington on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I've finished. This book should have been fascinating. The subject matter certainly is. But, it is not. Maybe something was lost in translation, but I spent most of my time reading it simply lost. Maybe it was just my expectations for the book? Probably, but nevertheless, I wouldn't really recommend this even though the subject matter (The Napolese 'mafia' rather than the Sicilian one) is interesting.
lriley on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Thanks to LT for sending an early reviewers copy of this book.The Camorra is the subject of Roberto Saviano's Gomorrah. These are the loosely connected Italian clans that make up the organized criminal associations centered around the Naples region in Italy--the tentacles of which reach all over the globe in both legal and non-legal ways. The constant war for primacy amongst these clans, the subversion of the law and of the culture of the people that live in the middle of this area. For a clan member the almost constant killing for money and for power no matter the personal injury to oneself or to ones freedom to move about without fear--to breathe freely without fear that you might be next. To kill remorselessly--with cruelty and without pity. One man is taken down to a shore to watch the sea come in--strapped to a chair--his mouth is stuffed with sand and gradually forms into a kind of cement that suffocates him. It's all about power and money. And it's all business. It's almost as if they've modeled themselves on the corporate/multi-national worlds or maybe even it's the other way around--the corporations have modeled themselves on them. It's hard to tell and anyway as Saviano's book makes clear often enough the corporate world and this criminal world work very very well together. For a large enough investment or donation we'll cover up your mess.One of my quibbles with this book though is that it assumes a bit much at least of readers outside Italy. It jumps around a bit. It's almost as if he takes for granted that the reader has some kind of personal knowledge about this group from his own experience. It may be that Saviano never expected it to go very far beyond Italy's borders. There is a disjointedness about it especially it seemed in the first half or so. In contstruct his writing seems to mostly cross between journalistic and ruminative/meditative with some fictional touches. The second half of the book is better. I especially liked the examples of those who have fought with integritly against this group. To his credit Saviano seems to be one of that number as apparently he is under threat. No doubt they do not like the less than glorifying portrait he paints of them individually and/or as a group of more or less mindless robotic killers. All in all it's an interesting read. The Camorra has never gotten the attention here that the Sicilian orientated Mafia has. Saviano's book brings us much closer to understanding the greed and ambition and bloodlust behind an equal if not more powerful criminal organization and the avenues it uses--illegal and otherwise to mestastisize like the cancer it is.
chuck_ralston on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Gomorrah is Roberto Saviano¿s nel mezzo del cammin de nostra vita into the bowels of the Neapolitan criminal System familiarly known as the Camorra and often contrasted with the Sicilian Mafia. The headquarters of the System is Naples and its environs, with international, `global¿ enterprise links to other European and Asian cities with especial interest in the fashion industry, but with continuing control of illicit drug trafficking, extortion, and racketeering in Naples and throughout Europe. `The Port¿ (Chapter 1) opens with the scene of a docking crane off-loading a ship¿s container that accidently spills its contents of frozen human bodies, which ¿looked like mannequins [. . .] men, women, even a few children [. . .] frozen, stacked one on top of another, packed like sardines.¿ Chinese workers who had paid a percentage of their wages to be returned post mortem to be buried in their homeland. ¿Everything that exists [Saviano as narrator says] passes through [. . .] the port of Naples.¿ The dynamics of markets, capital, and consumer goods on a global scale coupled with greed and treachery drive the risk takers to bypass taxes and tariffs ¿the deadwood of profit¿ for more money, merchandise, and ultimate mercantile power. ¿Angelina Jolie¿ (Chapter 2) is a portrait of a Neapolitan sweat shop where illicit `designer-labeled¿ knock-off garments are assembled by low-paid yet skilled workers. Pasquale, adept worker with fabrics, also teaches his competitors in China by applying his craft in front of a camera (¿take great are with the seams [which have] to be light but not nonexistent¿) which images and simultaneous translation into Chinese are transmitted to China¿s own sweat shops. Pasquale, with the face of an old man ¿constantly buried in fabric¿ knew also the ins and outs of clothing design of pants, jackets, dresses, even the exact number of washings a fabric could undergo before sagging. One evening while surfing TV channels, Pasquale froze at the image of actress Jolie at the Oscars dressed in a gorgeous white suit. He still remembered the measurements, the form of its neckline. Pasquale had made the garment to be shipped to America, as his suppliers had told him, but he was stunned and could say nothing, a ¿satisfaction that went uncelebrated.¿ Pasquale left the garment industry to drive trucks for one of the Camorra `families¿. For our narrator Pasquale¿s anonymous experience in the new global economics ¿seems an amended chapter of Marx¿s Capital, a paragraph added to Adam Smith¿s The Wealth of Nations, a new sentence in John Maynard Keynes¿s General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, a note in Max Weber¿s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.¿After two long reportorial chapters on the activities of The System so-called and the decades-long Secondigliano War which since 1979 has resulted in some 3,600 murdered victims of the Camorra: ¿more than the Sicilian Mafia, more than the `Ndrangheta, more that the Russian Mafia, more than the Albanian families, more than the total number of deaths by the ETA in Spain and the IRA in Ireland [. . . .], is the fifth chapter `Women¿ devoted to those female leaders, usually widows of murdered dons who have assumed the mantle of leadership among the Camorrista in recent years, to include one Anna Mazza, brain behind the Moccia clan for two decades, or Immacolata Capone, or Erminia Giulano. ¿Women [our narrator tells us] are better able to confront crime as if it were only momentary, or someone¿s opinion, or a step one takes before quickly moving on. Clan women demonstrate this very clearly. They feel offended and vilified when they are called Camorristi or criminals, as if `criminal¿ were merely a judgment of an action, not an objective way of behaving. In fact, contrary to the men, so far not one female Camorra boss has ever repented. Not one.¿ (p. 150) It is in this chapter devoted to the women of the System that Saviano¿s Gomorrah reaches its profound center with
Kirconnell on LibraryThing 8 months ago
He was 13 when he saw his first dead body. This wasn't unusual considering that Roberto Saviano grew up in Naples the home of one of the most powerful and brutal crime organizations in Italy....the Camorra. What is unusual is that he possessed the courage to publish this book detailing the history, methods, and wars that raged throughout the region while he was growing up in spite of the risk to himself. I found the book to be a passionate and shocking disclosure of a crime group that doesn't stop with their involvement in military arms and narcotics. They are involved in projects and businesses which affect every individual around the globe. Businesses such as fashion, agriculture, restaurants, and toxic waste disposal. Their casual disdain of human life could result in reprecussions of enormous impact. My only complaint about the book was its meandering style which with more cohesiveness would have left a more powerful impression.
rmacd47 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This is one of the worst books I have read. There is no discernible organization to the book. It is clearly written only for an Italian audience. The reader is assumed to have a wealth of knowledge about the intricacies of Italian politics , society, and current events. The book is grossly overwritten and melodramatic. All in all, a waste of time.
madcatnip72 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Hard-hitting, heart breaking book about the Neopolitian mafia. Arms and drug smuggling, slave labor, construction company graft and dumping pesticides into drinking water - there is nothing they won't do for money. Book is full of poignant vignettes like the ringing cellphone on the coffin of a 14 year old girl caught in the crossfire and the world's most user-friendly tool ever developed by man - the AK-47. Saviano writing (and the translation) is brilliant. Book clearly shows that there is nothing sexy or cool about organized crime.
PaulBerauer on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This book is a fascinating look into the crime world of Naples, a world that makes the American mafioso look like a bunch of kids selling lemonade. The book is not organized as an expose per say, but rather as a memoir of someone who once lived in the area and experienced the violence first hand. It meanders through different stories and different time periods, giving vivid details and examples of the sheer power and violence of the Naples crime syndicate. A fascinating look into the Italian mafia and how it continues to thrive and grow in the new century.
Ramirez on LibraryThing 8 months ago
It's awful how reality can be even worse than imagination.Insightful.
danilofernandes on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Um relato real e cruel desta organização criminosa que extende seus tentáculos em todas as esferas da sociedade.
stephmo on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Gomorrah serves as an account of the history of Naples¿s Crime System, called the Camorra by outsiders and news outlets, that has a hold on everything from high fashion to milk to narcotics in a trade that reaches across most of Europe and into China. I read this and now eye my Prada's that I got on deep discount with great suspicion. Much of the first part of the book explains the difference between Naples¿s new crime system and the old-style mafia. The long and short of it - the Camorra has basically infiltrated many businesses and low-end government making it impossible to do anything without running money through their organization which can be franchised out infinitely. The Camorra doesn't rely on the old-school family model - it's not a closed-Italian-only business. The Chinese have a strong presence, other Europeans and even women carry out boss roles in the Camorra. This is not to say that the Camorra is a melting pot of happy diversity. In their system, war is brutal and the deaths are far-reaching. Bosses are aware that their retirements will be forced. These detailed who-killed-who-then-killed-who depictions probably weaken the book a bit, as it becomes this blur of names and places and steps away from Roberto's strength in telling the story of the Camorra through vignettes. My only real complaint in Roberto's story is that he never offers much of his role in the system. If he entered the world as a journalist and stole a delivery of shoes with a Chinese outfit, but got close enough to individuals to be shown some of the things he saw in the book, he doesn't offer up how this happened. I know there's more to the story than that...
jmcilree on LibraryThing 8 months ago
It's practically unreadable. I don't know if the original Italian was great, but it got lost in translation, but this book is just plain ole bad. What's worse, is it could be a fascinating book, because it's about organized crime in Naples. And what even worse, is I have to slog through this poorly written, poorly organized, completely unengaging work and that's preventing me from reading something interesting. If I could give it negative starts, I would.
Darrol on LibraryThing 8 months ago
An excellent book on the implications of organized crime. Hard to know quite what to do.
mobill76 on LibraryThing 10 months ago
The author gives an insider's view of a monstrous system that is all the more disquieting because you're in there with him. Besides the titillation of so much blood and excess, what kept me reading was the intelligence and heart in the work. The tone sounds raw and cynical but it isn't without occasional touches of poetry and sentimentalism. The author never stayed in one mode long enough to get tiresome. I was shocked by what this book had to say. I don't know if I was convinced by the litany of the names and places or if I just sympathized with a good writer. His heart's in the right place. I hope it's still beating somewhere.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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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Very informative
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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chrisromano More than 1 year ago
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.