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Comment: This book is the paperback edition. The text is unmarked. The binding is tight. The cover is moderately worn along the edges with some creasing.,
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Excellent Cadavers: The Mafia and the Death of the First Italian Republic Paperback – August 6, 1996


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Excellent Cadavers: The Mafia and the Death of the First Italian Republic + The Day of the Owl (New York Review Books Classics) + Cosa Nostra: A History of the Sicilian Mafia
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1st Vintage Books Ed edition (August 6, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679768637
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679768630
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #620,211 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

An excellent account of two Sicilian prosecutors whose investigation of the Mafia led to the top levels of the Italian government and eventually, to their own murders.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

In Sicily, "excellent cadavers" are Mafia victims who also happen to be government officials. Excellent Cadavers is full of them, notably the courageous and tenacious prosecutors, Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino. Throughout the 1980s, Falcone and Borsellino brought down more heat on the "men of honor" than anyone since Mussolini's handpicked "Iron Prefect." The two not only sent hundreds of gangsters to jail, they also exposed Mafia corruption of national political leaders that led to the indictments of two of Italy's best-known politicians, Bettino Craxi and Guilio Adreotti. The success of their investigations brought on reprisals by corrupt politicians designed to weaken police and prosecutors alike and ultimately led to their deaths. Falcone and Borsellino were assassinated by bombs in 1992, but their work brought to light revelations that are rattling the current Berlusconi administration. Stille has crafted an excellent book, deftly weaving complex threads of information about Italian, Sicilian, and Mafia history, Italian politics, and Italian jurisprudence into a highly readable narrative. Readers who enjoy books about the American Mafia will enjoy picking out the differences and similarities between the Sicilian original and its American version. Thomas Gaughan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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The story of the fight against the Cosa Nostra in Siciliy.
Min Jeong Lee
In fact, for this very reason (being a "history" book) I bought it with some reluctance, anticipating that it could be a slow and "interrupted" read, so to speak.
Rodrigo Carvajal
Ultimately, Stille's book is great not because he tells this story, but because he makes us care.
Gerald Brennan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 11, 1999
Format: Paperback
this book centres on the italian government's long standing reluctance to actively pursue the mafia. with corruption entrenched in the political circles, the magistrature was for many years hamstrung. enter the crusading giovanni falcone and paulo borsellino, two magistrates who dared to target the mafia, with huge success. these two men were relentless in their endeavours, against overwhelming pressure from mafia-fed politicians. their ability to cultivate mafia informers resulting in the first maxi-trials demonstrated that the mafia was not untouchable. ultimately their devotion to duty resulted in their murder by the mafia. this book is especially well written covering all aspects of the lives of both men and is a must for mafia readers. you won't be able to put it down!!!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 29, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is a complex story but Alexander Stille does a wonderful job of keeping the various strands comprehensible to the reader. Even though you know the end of the story from the beginning, it still reads like a detective novel - I couldn't put it down! The courage and conviction of Falcone and Borsellino are impressive, and the story of how they finally began to find ways to prosecute the Mafia in Sicily is fascinating. Highly recommended to anyone with an interest in Sicily or in current Italian society.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Gerald Brennan VINE VOICE on April 18, 2008
Format: Paperback
"Excellent Cadavers" is probably the best mob story you've never heard.

Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, two heroic Italian prosecutors, mounted an extraordinary legal campaign against the Sicilian mafia during the 1980s. They ultimately paid for their efforts with their lives. But their untimely murders shook Italy so hard they toppled its government. Theirs is a compelling story, full of unforgettable characters, and all of it is tragic and true. And chances are high that you don't know much about it.

Why? Probably because it is about prosecutors. Prosecutors are not sexy. Prosecutors are, almost by definition, uncool. And popular culture is all about cool. Pop culture loves Henry Hill in "Goodfellas," Michael Corleone in "The Godfather" and Tony Montana in "Scarface." Popular culture loves bad guys.

Bad guys may be bad, but they are also cool. They get drunk and do mountains of coke and pull guns on one another and get into situations that are crazy and compelling; they're not likable, but they're always watchable. Good guys, by contrast, seem boring--they're the ones busting up the party the bad guys invited us to. We sometimes admire the good guys from a distance, but it is easier to feel dingy in the light of their halos. Still, we don't necessarily want to be them--they work hard and go home to their wives and live boring lives.

Except for Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino.

These men were hard workers, yes, but they worked in a truly topsy-turvy world where good was bad and bad was good, where government was riddled with corruption and graft, where outlaws clung to strange codes of behavior whereby killing someone was fine but swearing in front of a woman was unacceptable.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 11, 2000
Format: Paperback
A totally first rate work of reporting and writing. stille's book never drowns in its detail, but remains readable and informative, even for someone who doesn't know the ins and outs of italian politics. he really brings anti-mafia investigators borsellino and falcone alive, and comes as close as anyone can to trying to explain what drives former prime minister andreotti. if you are interested in italy, this is a great historical document. if you aren't, treat it as a great crime thriller, except that it's all true.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Pete Zapasta on February 4, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is an essential read for those with a general interest in modern day Europe, especially Italy, and most emphatically for Sicilian-Americans...like me. Forget those popularized and sometimes romanticized accounts of the mafia often encountered in the popular media. This book reveals in a clear, detailed and non-emotional but yet spell-binding style the ruthless, murderous and often barbaric ways of the real mafiosi...and the politicians and judges who protected them. The diligence, perseverance and courage of Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino in pursuing these ruthless criminals, with the certain knowledge of their own subsequent murder, is both chilling and awe-inspiring. One cannot offer too much praise for these men and the many other courageous Sicilians who also were murdered in the their efforts to bring justice to Sicily. The book ends in 1994 with notes of caution and fear as it introduces us to the political rise of Silvio Berlusconi. I look forward with great anticipation to the release of the author Alexender Stille's new book, due in June 2006, "The Sack of Rome...by Silvio Berlusconi".
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Urashima Taro on October 10, 2006
Format: Paperback
As an Italian, all I can say is that Mr. Stille knows us very well. In every single case where the book didn't agree with my memory, I was wrong (and, although I have spent the last two decades abroad, I was there when most of the events described happened). It's obvious from the way he writes that he is an insider, he is one of us. At the same time, he can understand us more clearly because he is also NOT one of us.

Not only I couldn't find a single imprecision, I found a mountain of incredible stuff I should have known but didn't (for example that the Salvo brothers legally got 10% of all taxes they collected for our government), likely because our press was careful to avoid stepping on "excellent" toes.

I read "Excellent Cadavers" with a mix of disbelief, shame, rage, and despair, as almost always with Mr. Stille's excellent prose. I cannot but recommend this book.
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