Title: Mafia Brotherhoods: Organized Crime, Italian style
Authors: Paoli, Letizia
Issue Date: 2003
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Abstract: Secrecy is one of the defining characteristics of the Italian Mafia. Wiretaps, financial records, and the rare informant occasionally reveal its inner workings, but these impressions are all too often spotty and fleeting, hampering serious scholarship on this major form of criminal activity.
During her years as a consultant to the Italian government agency responsible for combating organized crime, Letizia Paoli was given unparalleled insider access to the confessions by pentiti (literally, repentants), former Mafia operatives who had turned. This mafia "hard core" came primarily from the two largest and most influential Southern Italian mafia associations, known as Cosa Nostra and 'Ndrangheta, each composed of about one hundred mafia families. The sheer volume of these confessions, numbering in the hundreds, and the detail they contained, enabled the Italian government to effectively break up the Italian mafia in one of the dramatic law enforcement successes in modern times. It is on these same documents that Paoli draws to provide a clinically accurate portrait of mafia behavior, motivations, and structure.
Puncturing academic notions of a modernized Mafia, Paoli argues that to view mafia associations as bureaucracies, illegal enterprises, or an industry specializing in private protection, is overly simplistic and often inaccurate. These conceptions do not adequately describe the range of functions in which the mafia engages, nor do they hint at the mafia's limitations. The mafia, Paoli demonstrates are essentially multifunctional ritual brotherhoods focused above all on retaining and consolidating their local political power base. It is precisely this myopia that has prevented these organizations from developing the skills needed to be a successful and lasting player in the entrepreneurial world of illegal global commerce.
A truly interdisciplinary work of history, politics, economics, and sociology, Mafia Brotherhoods reveals in dramatic detail the true face of one of the world's most mythologized criminal organizations.
Description: "One of the most original approaches to the history of the Mafia and the 'Ndrangheta I know and I have already learned a great deal from it. A first-rate piece of work."
---Eric Hobsbawm, Professor Emeritus of history, Birkbeck College, University of London.

"MAFIA BROTHERHOODS is an outstanding addition to the stream of modern classics on the Italian Mafia. Analytically rigorous and theoretically well informed, it makes excellent use of the treasury trove of materials supplied by recent Mafia defectors to provide a rich description of both Sicilian and Calbrian Mafias. Featuring a novel and systematic comparison with the American Mafia, Paoli's work will be an indispensable resource for American readers."

---Peter Reuter, Professor of Public Policy, University of Maryland.

"A great read and a major step forward in the cause of understanding organized crime in all of its forms. Paoli's is a necessary book for anyone, whether academic or professional, serious about organized crime."
---G. Robert Blakey, William and Dorothy O'Neill Professor of Law, University of Notre Dame.

"This book on the Italian mafia is a milestone in the comparative study of so-called `organized crime'. An impressive demonstration of the relevance of culture in shaping mafia action, it is also a valuable contribution to the contemporary sociological debate."
---Shmuel Eisenstadt, Rose Isaacs Professor emeritus of Sociology, Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
ISBN: 0195157249
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IBa
Appears in Collections:Research Unit Criminal Law and Criminology

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