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The Honoured Society: The Sicilian Mafia Observed Paperback – 29 Aug 2003

16 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Eland Publishing Ltd; New edition edition (29 Aug. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0907871488
  • ISBN-13: 978-0907871484
  • Product Dimensions: 23.9 x 13.5 x 1.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 145,012 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

The Honoured Society is the most penetrating book ever written on the Mafia. -- Time Out

The Mafia observed by one of the great travel writers of our time. -- Eric Newby, Observer

This brilliant dissection of the Mafia, past and present, combines history, sociology, suspense, horror, and superb travel writing. -- Good Book Guide

every page is horribly absorbing -- The Times

About the Author

Norman Lewis is England's finest, living travel writer. He has written a dozen travel books, including such masterpieces as Naples'44, Golden Earth and A Dragon Apparent. He has also written thirteen novels. Lewis regards his life's major achievement to be the reaction to an article written by him entitled Genocide in Brazil, published in 1968. This led to a change in Brazilian law relating to the treatment of Indians, and to the formation of Survival International, which campaigns for the rights of indigenous peoples.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 1 Jan. 2002
Format: Paperback
The Mafia's origins in Sicily are detailed in this 1963 book written in the wake of the very first high-profile Mafia trials in Italy.
Informative, matter-of-fact, and chilling in its forensic detail, I recommend this book highly, and I look forward with great anticipation to reading Mr Lewis' other books.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 23 Sept. 2002
Format: Paperback
This is actually one of the books on the Mafia you SHOULD get. The main strong point being it's ability to explain the background of the mafia. It's also well written, this is good "story telling".
If you get this you should complement it with "Excellent Cadavers" by Alexander Stille. Together they give you enough information to navigate further. Both of them deal with the Sicilian mafia, but concentrate on different periods.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Neil Kernohan on 5 Jun. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This much acclaimed book goes right to the heart of Sicilian culture and history to explain the roots of the Mafia's existence and why it came to exercise such power over the Sicilian peasantry, government, economy and administration in the past two hundred years. I learned a lot about the unique social characteristics of this mysterious and introspective island people and the evolution of "omerta", "vendetta" and ritualistic blood letting which sustained the Mafia's grip over almost every aspect of Sicilian life.

Various episodes associated with Sicily's transition from medieval to modern are described in great detail, including: Mussolini's suppression of Mafia influence during the 1920s and 30s; the collaboration with the Allies during the 2nd WW liberation; and the subsequent triangular bloody power struggles between the Mafioso, post war Sicilian Government and local banditry, most notably Salvatore Guiliano.
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Format: Paperback
This book is the other half of Jared Diamond's Collapse. Diamond tells us what went wrong in collapsed societies but not who was responsible and how it was a whole population, for example in the case of the Easter Islanders, could acquiesce in what must have been seen as the inevitable end of life as they knew it. Thanks to Norman Lewis, we now know how it's done. Or at least one way. The hard men of Respect simply turned their hard gaze upon someone to arrive at agreement. Backed up with brutality and murder, they held sway first in Sicily, other forms of the Mafia moving into Italy itself and into the United States. The US military after WWII even brought well known Mafia figures such as Lucky Luciano back to Sicily and Italy to assist in organising the post-war, non-communist society.

Mussolini detested the mafia and weakened its hold, but it soon sprang back with force, as The Honoured Society makes clear. Following their natural anti-communist, pro-feudal philosophy, they manipulated bands of bandits on the one hand and politicians at all levels on the other.

Mussolini no doubt loathed them because he saw them as competition. The mafia in all its forms is fascism, rule by force, pure and simple, especially the Sicilian variety.

Lewis is on top form, writing from his own personal knowledge of people and place, plus research from newspapers, books and letters which he fits into the tale so unobstrusively that it all reads like a Shakespearian tragedy. And a tragedy it is. At the end, all you want to say is, Thank you, God, for not making me a Sicilian.
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A fascinating read, well researched and beautifully written. Norman Lewis's admiration of the land and people of Sicily does not get in the way of a very intelligent analysis of the rise of the Mafia. He paints a fascinating picture of the history of this very particular isolated corner of Europe where history seems to repeat itself more than it should.
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By Nico on 4 Jun. 2013
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In "The Honoured Society" Norman Lewis has produced a fascinating and absorbing account of the Sicilian Mafia. Really there can be no greater observer than Norman Lewis as he is the master travel writer. Lewis writes beautifully knows his subject well and sets it perfectly within its historical context and home.
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If you want a definitive history of the infamous group of organized criminals that operate under the name of the Mafia , then this is the book to start with; a well documented and researched book
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Delighted with this book which sheds great insights into this extraordinary movement ;written by a writer who had such a fine command of the English language. A riveting account.
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