History of the Mafia


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Letizia Paoli

The essay concludes by briefly summarizing government and societal anti-mafia action from the early s onward and considering how mafia groups have reacted to it. Her research interests are primarily in organized crime, drugs, doping and related control policies as well as the assessment of the harms of crime.

Mob mentality: Mafia History | The Independent

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The Mafia’s Sicilian Roots

Read More. Those disputes arose from the fact that private property had emerged, without proper state institutions; property rights without customs that allow people to know how to handle property. So with the diffusion of land and property, there was also a diffusion of conflict. Falcone was a Sicilian judge who did a tremendous amount of effective investigative work on the Mafia, with a level of knowledge, competence and energy that had not been seen before. And although he was then ultimately assassinated by the Mafia, he did manage to shift entirely the attitude of the Italian state towards the Mafia.

But given the situation, it was virtually the only effective solution that the Italian state could take. And that has become the practice now. Because the last thing Falcone did was to create a central anti-Mafia agency, which is still functioning today and has had a devastating effect on the Mafia.


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Most of the big Mafiosi are now in jail or dead. He tried to understand the entity. And he managed to persuade Tommaso Buscetta, the first big Mafioso to turn state witness, to speak. Falcone managed to understand how it functioned, the importance of language, the role of violence, the role of internal norms. Also, the fact it was — or what remains of it still is — a very well organized institution.

The Mafia in Sicily:

Lupo picked up where Franchetti left off. By exploring, in great detail, lots of historical sources, starting in the 19th century, he continues to show how the Mafia was an integral part of the new market society — rather than a remnant from a feudal era. And he gives ample and detailed illustrations of how it developed. Obviously Lupo is fighting a very difficult battle, writing the history of an organization that denied its own existence.

But as far as the history of the context in which the Mafia grew and developed, it is certainly the best available study that we have. But he goes up to very recent times — up to early s. So he covers the whole range in great detail, and it gets better as the sources get better, naturally. Your last two books are about personalities — and two very different viewpoints. This book is an interview with Antonino Calderone, probably the most interesting of the important Mafiosi who turned state witness.

And you really get a very good account of what these people did and how they organize, and why they fought with each other and what kind of reasoning they go through in making their decisions, and how they make a living. So you get a first-hand account of that.

And his confession, in its entirety, is tremendously interesting. What about your last book, La Mafia in Casa Mia? This is a very, very sad story. And both the family of this woman and Gaetano Badalamenti were from the same Sicilian town, Cinisi. The son was called Giuseppe Peppino Impastato. Peppino was killed in on the same day that the body of Aldo Moro, the kidnapped Italian prime minister, was found in Rome.

So the story was completely neglected by the media. Peppino was a very Leftist, militant young man, and he was killed because he was running a local radio station on which he was revealing a lot of facts about the Mafia, and also making fun of Mafiosi and the politicians who colluded with them. So the Mafia simulated a terrorist accident: they tied Peppino up on a railway line and put dynamite under his body and blew him up.

And the conclusion of the first inquest is that Peppino had been trying to carry out a terrorist attack and made a mistake and killed himself. Then there was a movement of people who worked very hard to review the case, until they succeeded in getting a conviction of the Cinisi Mafia boss, Gaetano Badalamenti. And the book is an interview with the mother, who was a poorly educated woman who came from a Mafia family and also married into a Mafia family.

It is a gruelling story, but you see the world from her point of view, you see how things happen, you see the kind of roles that Mafiosi play in their lives.

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Pietro Grasso, the judge who is now in charge of the anti-Mafia agency, is an extremely able and determined man. There has been a long line of judges and anti-Mafia officials. And then it went on. They assassinated Chinnici, and Dalla Chiesa took up the fight and was killed. Then you had Falcone and Borsellino. They were assassinated and others took over.

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For many people their entire knowledge of the Mafia is based on seeing The Godfather , so it can seem like a rather glamorous organization. And brutal. But certainly The Godfather did manage to glamorize their behavior and gave them a sense that they were not so petty, they were not so marginal, that they were not only uncouth hoodlums — but that there was a story of some universal value in what they did. Which is of course untrue.

Origins of the Mafia

But it did have a tremendous impact on these guys. Five Books aims to keep its book recommendations and interviews up to date. If you are the interviewee and would like to update your choice of books or even just what you say about them please email us at editor fivebooks. Five Books interviews are expensive to produce. If you've enjoyed this interview, please support us by donating a small amount.

History of the Mafia History of the Mafia
History of the Mafia History of the Mafia
History of the Mafia History of the Mafia
History of the Mafia History of the Mafia
History of the Mafia History of the Mafia
History of the Mafia History of the Mafia
History of the Mafia History of the Mafia

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