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Gomorrah: A Personal Journey into the Violent International Empire of Naples' Organized Crime System Hardcover – October 30, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Saviano has created a perfectly realized, morally compelling journey through the brutal world of contemporary Italian mob life in this ceaselessly violent tale of the Camorra, a network of thugs, exploiters and killers who run Naples and the surrounding countryside. Armed with a police band radio, Saviano visits one crime scene after another, recording the final words and circumstances of the dying and dead. The murders described are savage, cruel and senseless: The head... hadn't been cut off with a hatchet, a clean blow, but with a metal grinder: the kind of circular saw welders use to polish soldering. The worst possible tool, and thus the most obvious choice. Jewiss's translation of Saviano's intense prose flows beautifully from the pestilence and degradation of everyday life in the teeming Neapolitan slums to the futile efforts of the police to control the rich, organic chaos that is the only way the Camorra know how to live. A stunning achievement, this is a must-read for anyone interested in the state of contemporary Europe. (Nov.)
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* Saviano, an investigative journalist, uses the port city of Naples as an entry point into the nefarious dealings of the Italian crime network, the Camorra, which has a stranglehold on the global economy through its control of the international clothing market, art collecting, drug dealing, construction trades, and toxic waste disposal. Naples is the epicenter for the criminal cartel since, as Saviano says, "Everything that exists passes through here." At a time when Chinese exports of pet food and seafood have become suspect, Saviano provides a revealing examination of the ways in which black-market profit mongering and lack of regulations ruin workers' lives and endanger us all. This investigation, published in Italy in 2006, became a best-seller and won the Viareggio Literary Prize. It's a stunner of a book, as accessible to American audiences, through its searing style and timely investigation, as it is to Italians. Perhaps most importantly, Saviano's accusations are utterly convincing because of his undercover investigations: in the best Upton Sinclair tradition, he worked at a Chinese textile factory in Naples, at a construction site, even as a waiter at a Camorra family wedding. Throughout, he relies on the significant detail to carry his outrage: scores of frozen Chinese bodies spilling out onto a dock; the sight of a Chinese factory worker at the bottom of a well, beaten and stabbed to death after refusing sex with her boss. Through his firsthand observation and interviews, he lays bare the abuses fed by this well-oiled and well-hidden criminal system. Devastating. Fletcher, Connie

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1st edition (October 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374165270
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374165277
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (137 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #152,344 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

I could not put this book down once I started reading it!
Tommy B. Ray
Especially fascinating is the part about how the Camorra imports Chinese cheap labor to Naples to make knockoffs of top designer clothing and ladies pocketbooks.
Joe Bruno Sr.
It's a book written with passion and elegantly translated into English.
M. Duerr

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

208 of 213 people found the following review helpful By Lincoln Han on February 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you have been to Italy, surely you have seen people who sell counterfeit goods on the street: Prada purses, Gucci belt, Armani wallet, pirated CD and DVD, etc. Surprisingly, most of them are not made in China, but in underground factories in Naples, the same type of factories that makes dresses for Hollywood stars. This is however, only the beginning of the story. This is a story of the underground economy of Naples, the desperation of its society and underclass, and the exploitation by the sophisticated yet short sighted criminals. The tales are not unlike those of the underground economy of New York and Chicago, but southern Italian style.

With my busy schedule running a business, these days it's hard for me to take some time and read a book in a short time. However, this book was so compelling I finished it in four days.

There are three big criminal organizations in Italy: Cosa Costra (commonly known as Mafia) from Sicily, Ngrangheta of Calabria, and the Camorra of Campania. This book is about the camorra.

First, to answer one of the reviewers from Australia who didn't understand why the author is under 24-hour police protection: This is not the first book written about the camorra or the mafia, in Italy or abroad. However, his story telling style was compelling enough to make the book a best seller in Italy and abroad. This brought to light the dirty and dark secrets of the criminal underworld in a concrete term - something you can identify with (do they control what you eat?), it infuriates you and something you react strongly. It's not just about talking about the camorra in abstract terms, but to name names, name places, and describe in vivid details about the people, their "businesses", and places.
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85 of 94 people found the following review helpful By Alvaro Lewis on November 4, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Behold here an unfashionable and stirring book. The pages drip with the residue of disfiguring communications left by hitmen on the lifeless bodies of their victims. I do not go in for glamorized violence and I do not watch movies with guns. Still, I turned pages of this grisly book because its message is both fascinating and urgent. The scores of deaths described are countable but only a partial number. What waste. The mafia clans of Campania, whose fractions divide business by terror, account for the fear they inspire with their omnipresent success. It is bizarre to read of this smothering and ultimately corrupting system that renovates, enriches and destroys as it spreads.

A marginal insider, Savinio here unloads the weight of his learning and the roar of his disillusionment. His book puts to pasture the works that would try to rival it as discourses or discoveries on the nature of power in society. Fans of Foucault have no idea what power is about until they have read this book. The same goes for the armchair aficionado of corporate monopoly. Much of the information Savinio relates he has gathered as an inhabitant or curious, casual employee of the clans that run Italy from the graced and volatile realm of Campania.

The first chapter on the port of Naples is likely to unsettle anyone who lives near a port of entry by sea, as it shows how illegal goods make it from sea to secrecy and to the market. The chapter called "Cement" demonstrates the relationship between contractors, bids, bias and regional economy. These two chapters alone seem to be stunning achievements. The final chapter treats the horrifying management and crippling dispersion of toxins through land, sea and air for the sake of immediate profit.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Chris on November 20, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book is an extremely engrossing read about the real world of high stakes organized crime operating in and out of Italy today. It will have tremendous appeal to real life crime fighters and mob aficionados across the world, not to mention anyone with generational ties to Italy as a homeland. Well written and extremely informative, it engages the reader in a tell-all approach of the extensive world wide implications of organized crime originating in and out of Naples today. Graphic and disturbing, it gives factual details only an `insider' would have access to. Particularly fascinating is the increasingly large part women play in the leading role of organized family clans. `The Godmother', if you will. One could only imagine a blockbuster film coming out of this information. This reader would have preferred more details about how the writer actually infiltrated `The System' but perhaps that will be a follow up to this amazing read.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Enrico Ferorelli on December 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Gomorrah is not a compilation of news clippings on the subject of the Mafia or better the Camorra.
It's the result of years of heroic work by a young writer that has devoted himself to the understanding of the criminal world that developed in the area around Naples .
The scope and range of the illegal activities are world wide and control the world of fashion, construction, drugs, food, toxic waste, and almost any form of commercial endeavor. The message is a portent of things to come where the claws have not reached yet. The courage of the writer has put him in life danger for the rest of his life and and under constant police protection. The valor of his pen is as great as the beauty of his prose. I can not recall any book that has moved me so deeply in a long time. The story is not only a requiem for the Italian nation but also
a heads up for the rest of the world where the connections with the Italian Camorra are blossoming: that is China, Australia, Central and South America, Africa and obviously the US.
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