From Publishers Weekly
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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*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