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In The Honored Society award-winning investigative reporter Petra Reski reveals the Mafia menace lurking throughout the world-- from espresso bars in Palermo to European halls of parliament to the corporate headquarters of enormous agricultural firms. In haunting and exquisite prose she explores the Byzantine structure of the 'Ndrangheta, Cosa Nostra and other mafia clans throughout Italy -- the code they live by, the destruction they wreak, how they operate within the country and how they operate internationally.

She shows how these syndicates dominate everything from nuclear waste disposal to hotel chains to the marijuana trade in Australia and cocaine trafficked throughout the world.


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Reski shows how figures such as Silvio Berlusconi were made by the Mafia, and how those who dared to defy its codes were broken. A searing portrait of the criminals who have come to control not only Italy but vast swathes of the globe, The Honored Society is a journalistic tour de force. She is the author of several books on the Mafia.


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Six members of the 'Ndrangheta were gunned down outside a restaurant after a making - or initiation - ceremony on Aug. Reski writes that the 'Ndrangheta has used Germany as a base to launder millions of dollars in drug and gun-smuggling money and, as such, typifies the international Mafia that now poses a worldwide threat.

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As a journalist, Reski knows her topic as well as or better than anyone in the business. As a writer, she brings both insight and a sad poetry to her story. Here she is writing about the capital of Sicily: "I would recognize Palermo with my eyes shut. By its smell, as unsettling as the scent of a strange man.

A smell that both attracts and repels. Palermo is always ambivalent. Always beautiful and terrible at the same time.

Of Naples and the Camorra: "Is life in Naples tragicomic? Or is it more that it's a tragedy and you can only endure it by looking for the comedy?

a book review by George De Stefano: The Honored Society: A Portrait of Italy's Most Powerful Mafia

Reski finds little to laugh about in her topic or in an Italian society which she argues has largely reverted to form and once again accepts the Mafia as part of a landscape that can't be changed. The Palermo Spring - the groundswell of anti-Mafia sentiment that swept the country in the late s, but was derailed after the assassinations of prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino in - has long since faded. The Mafia, which once had a political accommodation with the dominant Christian-Democrat Party of the s and s, then aligned itself with former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia, Reski contends.

Her book, first published in Germany, has been censored there because of some of her political arguments.

PETRA RESKI

Reski's point is that the Mafia is a global threat that political leaders in Italy and other countries, including Germany, refuse to recognize. Skip to content. A look at the how and why behind the Mafia. Petra Reski, author. Photo Copyright: Paul Schirnhofer. The Honored Society. By Petra Reski. Nation Books, pp. Inquirer Morning Newsletter. Sign Up Inquirer Morning Newsletter. Reviewed by George Anastasia. Places also play a dominant role in this narrative. They too, apparently, know not to know.

George Anastasia is a former Inquirer staff writer who covered organized crime for the newspaper. Never Miss a Story. We Recommend.