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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some new insight on organized crime, December 30, 2005
This review is from: Angels, Mobsters and Narco-Terrorists: The Rising Menace of Global Criminal Empires (Hardcover)
Authors Nicaso and Lamothe reveal in their book the origins of the most secret and criminal societies in the planet. Not that it hasn't been done before, though. I've read many a book about organized crime. And yet I liked Nicaso and Lamothe's book. In their analysis they start from the centuries old rituals and secret meetings that gave birth to chinese Triads and japanese Yakuza, and then go on with the drugs and booze-fuelled orgies that marked the beginnings of outlaw motorcycle gangs in North America. How all these groups have conquered the world through vast networks that try to meet an insatiable demand for illegal sex and drugs - well, this is one of the most interesting parts of this book indeed.

It must be really hard to try to examine the cultural and ethnic components of organized crime without showing a trace of intent to offend any race or cultural group, as the authors claim at some point. There is a separate part in this book for italian, asian, russian, israeli, albanian, colombian, mexican, north-american and african crime group. The ninth section tries to demonstrate how terroristic groups all around the world have become involved in and profit from associations with these groups. The final section is a critique of laws in Canada, which seem to make this country a haven for global criminals.

Throughout the last decades the italian Mafia has been given the most attention by the mainstream media. Nicaso and Lamothe provide new insight in their detailed examination of Mafia's origins and myths. This book shows how marginalized people in remote italian villages developed the structure of this association as a means of protection and survival. Later on, leaders stepped forward and formed family-based groups that found ways to provide the goods and services people needed. When some leaders became corrupted and moved to the cities and foreign countries, this marked the beginning of globalization of crime. Power surely corrupts. In every level of legal or illegal political structures. Everywhere. The evolution of criminality is quite similar in other countries and cultures.

This book offers a few exceptions though. North Korea, for instance: here's a government following the lead of organized crime and exporting drugs to fund military expansion. Or certain terroristic groups that participate in criminal conspiracies to fund their political agendas and purchase weapons.

Towards the end of the book the authors portray Canada as a safe haven for criminals of all kinds. The evidence they offer is quite powerful and convincing. I was dumbstruck in particular by the wiretap transcriptions of major criminals celebrating the hotel-like comforts of canadian jails. All in all a very enjoyable read, but this last part of the book may leave you pretty angry.
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