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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Global Underworld
This exploration of the rise of international crime - a kind of sinister version of globalisation - had me riveted. Glenny is an experienced journalist and knows how to tell a story well, capturing the reader from the off with an account of a bizarre, seemingly random shooting in the Home Counties, using this to illustrate how the old boundaries of organised crime are...
Published on 13 Aug. 2009 by Catherine Murphy

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Title, Pity About the Cover
As other reviewers have pointed out, the cover is awful, must qualify for the accolade of Worst Cover of the Decade. One reason why it's so bad is because it gives a very poor picture of what the book is about. Whereas in contrast the title gives a concise and snappy description of exactly what the book is about, which is essentially the internationalisation and branding...
Published on 22 Dec. 2009 by D. Collier


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Title, Pity About the Cover, 22 Dec. 2009
By 
D. Collier "Haze-Dweller" (North West England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: McMafia: Seriously Organised Crime (Paperback)
As other reviewers have pointed out, the cover is awful, must qualify for the accolade of Worst Cover of the Decade. One reason why it's so bad is because it gives a very poor picture of what the book is about. Whereas in contrast the title gives a concise and snappy description of exactly what the book is about, which is essentially the internationalisation and branding of high-level crime in the first decade of the 21st century - a McDonalds-ing of Mafia-ism, very clever.
You really need to read the book to get an idea of precisely what this means and how it has come about.
I found Glenny's writing a bit disjointed and his grammar in need of some good copy-editing in places, so this is not an elegant or satisfying read, but he makes his points compellingly, it is journalistic information above all else.
Whether his facts are thoroughly accurate, how am I to know? But whether they are are not, there's lots here to learn and ponder over.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Global Underworld, 13 Aug. 2009
By 
Catherine Murphy "drcath" (Norway) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: McMafia: Seriously Organised Crime (Paperback)
This exploration of the rise of international crime - a kind of sinister version of globalisation - had me riveted. Glenny is an experienced journalist and knows how to tell a story well, capturing the reader from the off with an account of a bizarre, seemingly random shooting in the Home Counties, using this to illustrate how the old boundaries of organised crime are breaking down and shifting to allow new patterns to emerge. It's a judicious mix of facts and figures, enlivened with real life material to keep the pages turning. A warning though: some of the latter are quite disturbing. Ludmilla's story of how she was duped into the sex trade by a phone call from a friend cost me more than one sleepless night, for example and there are others almost as lurid.

Glenny's work illustrates how crime, like any other business, expands into new markets as they emerge. The world is a smaller place and not just for tourists. Nowadays, you're as liable to be ripped off by scammers from Nigeria or Brazil as have your phone pinched by the friendly neighbourhood mugger. On a sober sidenote, he supplies at least two examples of how the removal of the "right" kind of crime lord - men who supply law and order as well as drugs and counterfeit DVDs - only leads to chaos and the emergence of a hundred less desirable replacements. Sometimes, leaving well enough alone is the best solution it seems.
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39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book - Truly awful cover!, 12 Mar. 2009
By 
Big Jim "Big Jim" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: McMafia: Seriously Organised Crime (Paperback)
I can't think what the publishers were thinking by putting such a garish, tasteless cover on this book. Are they trying to fool those who buy trashy crime novels? Anyone caught out in this way will possibly find the going a bit tough, even though this is an exteremely accessible book to those with half a brain (I modestly include myself in this category!)

The problem though is that possibly like me, anyone with said half a brain will be instantly put off by the cover and not give it a go.

Well let me assure you; This book is a must read if you have any interest at all in current world events, real crime or just great journalism.

This is scary stuff and serves to make the point that just about everything you touch nowadays is tainted somewhere along the line by death and corruption.

Although written before the current credit crunch, mauch of the content here is uncannily prescient about where the world was going and may yet go.

And there are some great stories in here for those "watercooler moments". Outdo those going on about "The Wire" with some real life horror stories out of this book.

I am giving this book 6 stars but it has to lose one for THAT cover so see how I get to give this a 5 star review?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Educational and sometimes entertaining - frequently shocking., 9 Oct. 2009
This review is from: McMafia: Seriously Organised Crime (Paperback)
Took on holiday and read it far more quickly than I usually do a non-fiction book.
It was well written and researched (although it did seem to be partisan in approach, that didn't bother me too much - it wasn't a doctoral thesis after all). The subject matter was gritty and well explained and the links between the sections were well thought out and moved the narrative on in a logical fashion.
However, the sections seemed quite disparate and none of the groups or activities looked at really seemed to have been investigated in a great deal of depth. It left me wanting more - which is a good thing. Don't read it for encyclopeadic knowledge on international crime. Do read it to get an over-view and a well-argued view-point.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting read, 18 April 2014
I've read similar books before, generally they've been a collection of anecdotes from various characters in the criminal underworld and the effects and repercussions of their actions. Although I expected no more of them and they entertain in their own way, this book is a different beast entirely.

It is a little slow starting and to be fair and not for someone after something akin to the above, but some of the stories of various underworld figures and their collaborations despite differences of race, language and even at times of war against one another in pursuit of the mighty dollar...

Also highlights how blurry the line often is between legitimate daily business and illegal dealings; how hard they are to distinguish and how inter-related they are.

Can be heavy going but a thoroughly interesting read; don't be put off by the cover!
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5.0 out of 5 stars An eye opener, 27 Feb. 2011
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This review is from: McMafia: Seriously Organised Crime (Paperback)
"Don't judge a book by his cover", this is a serious book written by a former BBC correspondant in Yougoslavia (not some Pulp Fiction type of book!).

Reading this book, I felt like a child discovering what the world is really like. I know it is a cliche, but this book is an "eye-opener".

The book deals with many parts of the world and issues, and it is possible to read different chapters independently.
Masha Glenny tells of his encounters with many colorful people

As an example of the different stories in the book: British Columbia (that part of Canada with Vancouver in it), is a HUGE exporter (yes, exporter!), of cannabis... The author meets people involved in the growing of cannabis (hidden in the forests), and in their export (by trucks) to the US. He also puts forward a solid argument for the legislation of drugs.

I was particulary interested in the former Soviet Union. I wanted to understand the "corruption", and the interconnection between the mafia, business people, and the government. The author cites the former director of the CIA: "If you should chance to strike up a conversation qith an articulate, English-speaking Russian in, say, the restaurant of one of the luxury hotels along Lake Geneva, and he is wearing a $3,000 suit and a pair of Gussi loafers, and he tells you that he is an executive of a Russian trading company and wants to talk to you about a joint venture, then there are four possibilities. He may be what he says he is. He may be a Russian intelligence officer working under commercial cover. He may be part of Russian organised crime group. But the really interesting possibility is that he may be all three - and that none of those three institutions have any problem with the arrangement."
Glenny does a great job at explaining how things work. He has met many "actors"..

But the story that shocked me the most, is the story of a Moldovian girl who was trafficked to Tel Aviv to work in a brothel. She was told that she was going to work in a bar/restaurant, and that people would do the visa paperwork for her. She was first flown to Moscow (where she was locked in an apartment with other girls), then to Cairo. And from Cairo they crossed the Sinai to get to Israel - they had "guides" who raped them and these guides shot a girl who tried to escape. Then in Tel Aviv it was the hell life of working in a whorehouse, basicaly being raped 20 times a day. She managed to escape twice: the first time the sergeant on duty was a client of the brothel and sent her back and she was beaten by her "owner". The second time she was charged with being an illegal immigrant, and when eventualy she came back to Moldovia she was HIV positive.
As I read this, the Assange story was all over the newspapers because of the Sweden thing (from what I understand something to do with wearing a condom). And I thought "How come people are acting so shocked about this Assange story, talk about it all the time, when there is all this human trafficking happening, to so many girls, and officials know about it, and what do they do to stop it happening?"...
As for drugs, Misha Glenny offers a solution: the problem is that in Israel and in most Western countries it is the girl, not the client, who is doing something illegal.

There are many real stories in this book, some tragic like the one described above, some funny, but most of them opened my eyes to "how the world really works".
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating International View of Organised Crime, 8 Feb. 2011
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This review is from: McMafia: Seriously Organised Crime (Paperback)
This is the first non-fiction I've read in a while. It's an interesting study of organised crime that's becoming more international and connected thanks to a number of factors like the fall of soviet communism, the rise of the internet and globalisation. He doesn't dwell too much on the violent aspect of crime, it focusses more on the important figures and the history and the circumstances of each region along with interviews of involved criminals, law enforcement and victims.

Some of the facts and anecdotes he turns up are quite insane. It seems a Serb is the best man for a job of assassination, Sheriff FC in the Moldavian breakaway state of Transnistria is partially funded by arms sales (and play in the Champions League every year), Columbian cartels set up the largest pharmacy chain in the country so they could gain access to huge amount of chemicals needed to process cocaine. Some of the more personal stories are quite gripping as well, the plight of a Moldavian woman who was coerced into prostitution and transported into Israel via Egypt, the people who are beholden to "Snakeheads" who illegally transport Chinese people into Europe for a huge fee and a Brazilian banker who was stupidly suckered into one of the biggest Nigerian scams of all time.

It was a compelling read, you're never stuck on a single subject or region before he shifts to a different continent and area of organised crime. He's also not shy with his views on the war on drugs and the lack of political motivation to deal with problems like money laundering. I also agree with his assessment of drug users, happy to ignorantly fund organised crime and condone the inherent bloodshed that comes with it. On the same subject, he talks about the Canadians, making huge profits smuggling weed into the US which was one of the most interesting chapters.

I really enjoyed this, I was half-expecting a Ross Kemp-like tale of violence and gangs (which to be honest, would have been ok with me) but it had much more depth than that. He also gives his sources on a chapter-by-chapter basis so if you want to delve into anything in more detail, you have the information to do so.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting though lacking structure, 16 Mar. 2009
By 
Antioquia (London and Dublin) - See all my reviews
This review is from: McMafia: Seriously Organised Crime (Paperback)
This provides a good geography lesson of global organised crime and deals with about 40 countries, though many peripherally. The book intersperses detail with policy and it mostly works, though oddly the author demurs from providing a description of how triads dealt with Brazilian informers and other deliberate narratives are also short on detail. There were some oddities such as the omission of maps and the photograph of Mia Mista is not specifically referred to in the book itself. The book feels like it lacks structure as it sashays across the globe and the section on the future of organised crime is tiny. The staged cover photographs grated after a while but all in all it is a good engrossing book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Crime as business, business as crime, 30 Aug. 2012
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This review is from: McMafia: Seriously Organised Crime (Paperback)
A highly readable tour (or perhaps trawl) through the global underworld. Glenny's account is scholarly enough, but often wryly funny as well.

The real strength of this book is the fact that Glenny is able to place present day criminality in the context of the social, political, historical and cultural context of the respective regions he covers. On this front, the coverage of Bulgaria is very strong.

Also noteworthy is the section on India's (particularly Bombay's) underworld. This is certainly an area that has received less coverage than perhaps Russia or South America, and Glenny's access and level of detail here compare well with regions such as Eastern Europe, in which he has long specialised.

Glenny's use of secondary sources is first rate, and is amply supplemented by a more or less motley crew of interviewees, from gangsters to senior policemen.

If I have a criticism it would be that some sections on the 'war on drugs' hammer home the broadly anti-prohibitionist perspective at more length than is needed; the section on Albany is a case in point perhaps.

A highly entertaining and well researched book that easily bears a second reading.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Definitely Not A Book to Judge by It's Cover, 10 Jun. 2009
By 
Maximus "Max" (Geneva, Switzerland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: McMafia: Seriously Organised Crime (Paperback)
I nearly didn't buy this book because of the cover which as has already been said looks like some trashy crime novel but I recognised Misha Glenny as a known journalist and as I was at an airport with no rush began to flick through the pages. I am pleased I did; it is a really interesting book, I enjoyed it immensely. The book covers organised crime across the world in a reasonably serious way everything from Gold smuggling to people trafficing and if you work in and/or have an interest in world finance then it helps explain an awful lot of what you see going on in places like Dubai, Switzerland and the various offshore centres around the world. May also make you more careful about your use of computers. I particularly found the discussion and reasons for the rise in the Russian and Eastern European Mafias interesting and the idea that these organisations provide structure and a service to the community they operate in where the state has failed to meet those needs is compelling. Get past the cover and it's a very good book.
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McMafia: Seriously Organised Crime
McMafia: Seriously Organised Crime by Misha Glenny (Paperback - 5 Feb. 2009)
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