© The Financial Times Ltd 2014 FT and 'Financial Times' are trademarks of The Financial Times Ltd.
June 17, 2011 5:01 pm
Blood Brotherhoods: The Rise of the Italian Mafias, by John Dickie, Sceptre, RRP£20, 448 pages
John Dickie’s much-praised Cosa Nostra (2004) documented the rise of the Sicilian Mafia; this expansive follow-up widens his focus to include the two lesser-known gangster “brotherhoods” – the Neopolitan Camorra and the Calabrian ’Ndrangheta – and their role in the history of Italy’s underworld.
The author describes how these “honoured societies” were formed in the dungeons of 19th-century Naples, whence they emerged to form separate factions with distinct methods and rituals. The Camorra collapsed in 1915 after a turncoat broke the code of silence, but the other clans were more devious. They infiltrated the highest spheres of society in southern Italy and a “criminal ecosystem” took root.
Although Dickie devotes much attention to individual crimes, occasionally losing his thread amid a mass of detail, his narrative bowls along, powered by the sort of muscular prose one associates with great detective fiction. An exhilarating history.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2014. You may share using our article tools.
Please don't cut articles from FT.com and redistribute by email or post to the web.