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Fighting the Mafia & Renewing Sicilian Culture Paperback – November 1, 2003

4.5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 212 pages
  • Publisher: Encounter Books (November 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1893554813
  • ISBN-13: 978-1893554818
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.8 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,211,598 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on August 10, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is a remarkable book. It is both a suspenseful story of the attempt to root the Mafia out of the Sicilian bone marrow and also the story of making the culture free and autonomous. Leoluca Orlando is central to both of these narratives. Indeed, he embodies them in the courageous and dangerous life he has led. It would seem impossible to bring off a combination of The Godfather, The Leopard, and the Book of Virtues, but he has done it here. This story is unforgettable. It is a great read and would be a great movie.
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Format: Hardcover
My first visit to Sicily - and I hope not my last - took place this May. Our group had planned just a short visit to Palermo. Everything I had read said the city was chaotic - evidence of Mafia contamination all over; dirty, inadequate services, horrible traffic and somewhat dangerous. But some of the jewels were still there and worth the visit, we concluded. What a lovely surprize - We found a different Palermo from the one described in "Midnight in Sicily, and "On Persephone's Island." Renovation all over; the Teatro Massima newly re-opened and a city with a bright, good feel to it....After reading this book, I feel I had an insight into some of the ways this was done. If Stille's "Excellent Cadavers" takes you through the legal battles, this book talks about political and cultural changes as seen by its mayor. At first I was a little concerned with self-aggrandizement and Stille doesn't seem to be too great a fan, but I came to respect Orlando's story....I am very curious and would like to find out more about Orlando and also want to go back to Palermo, with more open eyes this time....By the way, the traffic was still terrible.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In modest language Orlando shows us how beautiful Palermo and with it Sicily, has been brought back to it rightful position. The story is one of bravery, persistence and the creation of community spirit in a city whose society had been systematically attacked.
Orlando continues to be a force for good in the world, and to fight international crime, now the model for wild and successful schemes to kill, cheat and enslave people in places all around the world, through money and power unfettered by scruples. It's not as if we don't know what he is talking about. Examples abound.

This is a good and encouraging story, true, exciting, and well told by one of the protagonists. By all means read it.
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