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McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld Paperback – April 7, 2009

4.4 out of 5 stars 71 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Significant Seven, April 2008: In McMafia, Misha Glenny draws the dark map that lies on the other side of Tom Friedman's bright flat world. That connected globe not only brings software coders and supply-chain outsourcers closer together; it's also opened the gates to a criminal network of unsettling vastness, complexity, and efficiency that represents a fifth of the earth's economy, trading in everything from untaxed cigarettes and the usual narcotics to human lives and nuclear material. Glenny's a Balkans expert, and he begins his story there, with the illicit--but often state-sponsored--underworld that grew out of the post-Soviet chaos, but he soon follows the contraband everywhere from Mumbai and Johannesburg to rural Colombia and the U.S. suburbs. It's not just a hodgepodge of scare clips, though: Glenny reports from the ground but follows the leads as high as they go, showing how the dark and bright sides of the flat world are more connected than we imagine. --Tom Nissley --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Former BBC World correspondent Glenny (The Balkans, 1804–1999) presents a riveting and chilling journey through the myriad criminal syndicates flourishing in our increasingly globalized world, which make up as much as 20% of global GNP. Tracing the growth of organized crime—ranging from the burgeoning sex trade in volatile, postcommunist Bulgaria to elaborate Internet frauds in Nigeria—Glenny expertly combines interviews with key players, economic studies and sociological analysis. He argues that the chaos and political upheaval following the demise of communism in Eastern Europe, along with increasing demand in the West and the easy flow of money and people provided the perfect opportunity for organized crime to gain a foothold on the dark side of the globalizing economy. Glenny's achievement is in introducing readers to the less familiar aspects of global crime, from Kazakhstan's caviar mafia to the flourishing marijuana trade in British Columbia. Consequently, his interview subjects are equally varied: sex slaves in Tel Aviv, a co-conspirator in the deadly 1993 Mumbai bombings and top Washington policy makers share the pages. Readers yearning for a deeper understanding of the real-life, international counterparts to The Sopranos need look no further than Glenny's engrossing study. 16 pages of photos; maps. 100,000announced first printing. (Apr. 10)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 420 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (April 7, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400095123
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400095124
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #161,540 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Rob Hardy HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on July 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover
You sponsor organized crime. There isn't a thing you can do to stop. These are among the dismaying messages of _McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld_ (Knopf) by Misha Glenny. A big book with an extremely broad, world-wide vision of the latest in global criminality, it presents a daunting picture of lucrative and lethal crime in China, Serbia, Chechnya, Columbia, Israel, Russia, and all over the place. The U.S., the land where Don Corleone and his family prospered, gets surprisingly little coverage as a scene of crimes, but that does not keep it from playing a role all over the globe. Let's say (for the sake of argument) that you are an American who doesn't hire illegal foreign workers and never does illegal drugs and never launders money, so you think that gets you off the hook. Not quite. Do you use a cell phone? If so, most likely it contains coltan, a mined compound that efficiently conducts electricity at very high temperatures, and which comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo, so you are tapped into mine pillaging and organized crime there. There are countless other examples given here, but most important is what the American government and other governments are doing. They are interested in prohibition, criminalization, and interdiction, but with the lifting of restrictions on free movement of capital (Glenny blames Reagan and Thatcher for allowing what the corporations wanted), criminals "... became inextricably bound up with globalization - it was here in the huge reservoirs of the international banking system that the liquid assets of the corporate and criminal worlds mixed and mingled." Glenny's book details his travels to crime scenes of different countries, and he is guided by criminals themselves, smugglers, and a few police officers.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
Misha Glenny has tapped into a deep and dark undercurrent that is sweeping the globe: from Eastern Europe, to Africa, to the Middle East, to Japan and China, to the West including the U.S., and most places in between: corruption and organized crime both with and without government complicity, has become a silent grime reaper that must be reckoned with, lest it sweep our own civilized way of life down into the undercurrents with it.

The stories in this book are mind-blowing not just in the creative ways that international criminals get around legalities and quickly learn to exploit the latest laws and technology, but also because they are so widespread and so injurious to what we have come to respect as a normal, ordered civilized and moral existence. Organized international criminals are resourceful, intelligent and intent on colonizing the world with a new set of decadent values. A new "Criminal world order is already deep in the making.

In most of the rest of the world, a reliance on an underground economy is an existential imperative (in post-Communist Russia, for instance, Nigeria, or Albania and indeed most of the poorer countries in the Middle East). The King of the underground economy, whether in the first or the third world is drugs: The West seems to be the carriers of a disease that makes drugs a necessity, and the rest of the world is all too anxious to apply a remedy for us.

But even if drugs were shutdown completely there is still trafficking in pirated goods, in humans, mostly young women being forced to go from poorer to more advanced countries; and now also computer and identity thefts.

What to do?
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Format: Hardcover
To make a long story short, this book is essentially the history of the mafiacation of soverign states during the turbulent phase of the 1990s. Numerous case studies are presented which map out the ways, shapes, and forms of organized crime penetration from unstable regions and societies into the the formal structures of stable and legitimate governments.

For glaring example, the Yakuza crime syndicates gradually evolved into a parallel legal system in Japan, then foundering in their own inefficiencies, began subcontracting their day to day rough work to the Chinese Triads.

The lesson here is disturbing to the idealist mentality, because Misha Glenny is clearly pointing to the inescapable conclusion. Mafia like organizations are becoming increasingly interlinked and coordinated and resultantly imposing their values, tastes, methods, and derangements on a world order poorly equipped to monitor them, much less curtail their activities.

Many luxury items such as caviar and cocaine are now thoroughly controlled through distribution networks that seem actually more sophisticated than their legitimate corporate counterparts, while just as many counterfeit luxury items are manufactured and distributed by the same organizations.

Without belaboring the point, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that the world is on the brink of a regulatory crisis phase where tax evasion, counterfeiting, human trafficing, militarized organ harvesting operations, wholesale corruption, social brutalization and cultural degeneracy are inseparably intertwined.
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