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The History of Italy's Most Powerful Mafia

by Petra Reski translated by Shaun Whiteside

Pub Date: Jan. 8th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-56858-973-2
Publisher: Nation Books

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.