@duffythewritermafia life book review

Mafia Life is one of those books which got my attention just by the book cover.  Mafia movies and documentaries are my guilty pleasure. The Sopranos and movies like Goodfellas, The 25th Hour and of course The Godfather trilogy offer up old school code, flashy, trashy suits and women, with double crossing heists and dodgy deals. Even if bodies do end up gruesomely buried in cement, or hanging in freezer trucks, there is a certain glamour and allure, but does the life of a real gangster live up to that of popular culture?

Author Federico Varese has infiltrated and studied organised crime across the globe for many years as a professor of criminology and offers a detailed insight from his own interviews along with a wide range of documents, books and other journalists input. Mafia Life takes us across continents and into the underbelly of the Russian and Sicilian Mafia, the Yakuza and the Triads, from initiation ‘birth’ to death.

Is Mafia Life Worth The Read?

If you are interested in how the main mafia families were started, how the money train works and just how far up the tree they go, then yes, this book is definitely for you.  What I found interesting was that these criminal organisations are run more like religious sects than businesses. The rules and rituals are adhered to even today with little change and most old school rules still apply. However, the business and money side does need to grow and change if it is to survive.  Where once illegal and fake goods could be shipped and sold in stores and street corners, they are now readily available on eBay.  Even illegal and prescription drugs can be purchased online if you know where to look and anyone these days can become a small-time drug dealer, so how do the mafia keep ahead of the curve?  What really fascinated me was just how such large sums of money can, and is, laundered through private and national banks across the world. Our own Commbank has hit the headlines recently for such investigations and makes you think just who knows who, and who is buying who.

Mafia Life is an interesting read for those who not only have an interest in the global criminal underbelly and old-school mafioso but those who are keen to follow the finances and money trail right up to the top, all adding up to billions of dollars of wealth.

4 out of 5 – I read it in two sittings!

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@duffythewriter mafia life

Mafia Life Book Blurb

A compelling new account of life inside the mafia around the world. What is it like to belong to the mafia? How do you join? What does it do to your loved ones? How do you make it to the top? And what happens if you break the rules?  

The Japanese Yakuza. The Chinese Triads. The Sicilian Cosa Nostra. The Calabrian N’Drangheta. The New York Mafia. The Russian Vory -v -Vakone.

Today, mafias operate across the globe, with hundreds of thousands of members and billions of pounds in revenue. From Hong Kong to New York, these vast organisations spread their tentacles into politics, finance and everyday life. But what is it like to belong to the Mafia? How do you join? What does it do to your loved ones? How do you make it to the top? And what happens if you break the rules?

Criminologist Federico Varese draws on a lifetime’s research to give us access to some of the world’s most secretive societies. Mixing reportage with case studies and historical insights, this is the story of mafia as it really is: filled with boredom and drama, death and disaster, ambition and betrayal.

Infiltrating initiation ceremonies from Russia to England, visiting exclusive gambling clubs in Macau and Mafia summits in Dubai luxury hotels, Varese builds up a unique picture of life in the mafia from the inside.

About the Author

Federico Varese is Professor of Criminology at the University of Oxford. He is the author of Mafias on the Move: How Organized Crime Conquers New Territories.

Mafia Life provided by Allen & Unwin in exchange for an honest review