From Publishers Weekly
Orlando offers a different perspective on the Mafia than authorities like Pino Arlacchi and Nicola Tranfaglia. Born into an aristocratic Palermo family, he joined a small, honest faction of the corrupt Christian Democratic Party and became mayor of Palermo with over 75% of the popular vote in 1993. Cogently, dispassionately and engagingly, Orlando (no longer mayor of Palermo) analyzes the Mafia's decades-long reign. Equally important, he recounts the struggle to preserve the civic life of a great European metropolis. The Mafia has benefited from a perverse claim of being an "honored society," yet Orlando exposes a starkly different reality. The "Sack of Palermo," in which Mafia-controlled construction companies destroyed the city's architectural and cultural legacy by covering it in cement and shoddy construction, was the most visible Mafia transgression. More perniciously, with its enormous drug-trade profits and its ability to deliver votes, the Mafia became an alternative to legitimate government and, eventually, intrinsic to the ruling Christian Democratic oligarchy. Orlando was close to many illustrious persons who died fighting the Mafia, and he was marked to share their fate until a crime lord realized that Sicily, Italy and the world were outraged over the murders of politicians. By demonstrating the Mafia's power, such killings generally destabilized the national government, but finally the authorities cracked down effectively. Giulio Andreotti, seven times prime minister, was implicated in protecting the Mafia in exchange for votes, but Orlando skims over this episode. He cites the 1997 reopening of Palermo's Teatro Massimo ("temporarily" closed in 1974 for repairs costing millions of dollars that went directly to the Mafia) as a sign that the city, free of the corrupt power structure, is enjoying a renaissance.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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From Library Journal
The mayor of Palermo, Sicily's capital, Orlando is well qualified to tell the story of the fight against the Mafia in Italy, having been involved in Sicilian politics for well over 20 years. Even in his youth, Orlando's political beliefs were being shaped by his father and a priest who would become one of his most trusted advisers. A leader of the anti-Mafia movement, Orlando introduces readers to others in the movement and the brutal gangsteristica they challenged. Sadly, we barely get to know many of these brave citizens, for they often lost their lives for the cause. Throughout, Orlando demonstrates what it is like to live constantly in danger; for many years, he and his family were never seen in public together, even sitting apart in church. This first-person account is captivating and well written. Recommended for large public and academic libraries. Sarah Jent, Univ. of Louisville, KY
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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