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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing but enlightening
Living in a 'nice', law abiding country like the UK it's easy to be ignorant of, or turn a blind eye to the darker side of life that most people on earth have to deal with on a day-to-day basis.

My wife is Russian and her family lived through the collapse of the USSR and the period they refer to as 'The Lawless Times' in the early 90s. Speaking to them about it...
Published on 3 April 2008 by Mr. N. T. Baxter

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but could have gone deeper
It's a good read. Just wish he had gone a little deeper himself, and not relied so much on previously published material. 3.5 stars!
Published on 25 Jan. 2009 by Brian SW


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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing but enlightening, 3 April 2008
By 
Mr. N. T. Baxter "Neil" (Cambridge, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: McMafia: Crime without Frontiers (Hardcover)
Living in a 'nice', law abiding country like the UK it's easy to be ignorant of, or turn a blind eye to the darker side of life that most people on earth have to deal with on a day-to-day basis.

My wife is Russian and her family lived through the collapse of the USSR and the period they refer to as 'The Lawless Times' in the early 90s. Speaking to them about it brings home just how tough you had to be to survive back then, and it's no surprise that some people rose to the top to fill the vaccuum left when the forces of law and order collapsed.

Tough people took what they could, weaker people suffered - along with their families. We're now living with the consequences of this collapse and the following rise of criminal gangs to the size multi-national corporations.

This book covers much more than the collapse of the communist states, and shows how the networks of criminality have linked up across continents and become powerful, sophisticated money making machines that thrive on the suffering of others.

Eye opening and a little frightening, this book will change your perspective on the world and will help you understand how the 'nice' countries like ours are the ones that have made these enormous empires possible through things like our demand for recreational drugs and sex with foreign prostitutes.

very well written and highly recommended.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A dazzling exposition of modern organised crime, 22 April 2008
By 
Jim (Blackheath, London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: McMafia: Crime without Frontiers (Hardcover)
In McMafia, Misha Glenny meets some of the underworld's villains and scammers and puts a human face to the vast conspiracies which we hear so much about, but ultimately know so little. He is an entertaining, affable guide, a meticulous researcher and, it would appear, a brave journalist. He writes with candour, incisiveness and occasional humour. This is a very different work to his books on the Balkans, but the skills that made them such good books are much in the evidence here as well.

Glenny takes us on a world tour of global crime: from the insidious backstreets of the ex-Soviet bloc, where James Bond-esque baddies lurk in every corner, to Nigeria, Brazil, Japan and China. Although the chapter titles - such as `The Future of Organised Crime' - suggest a thematic approach, it is more geographic than that, which actually makes it all the more readable.

My only problems are with the title - which suggests that the global underworld somehow replicates himself everywhere and is anodyne for it, when Glenny shows that it is not - and the lack of over-arching hypothesis - this isn't a book about the globalisation of crime, we are told at the end, when the preceding 400 pages would suggest that it is.

But as part travelogue, part social history this is nevertheless an excellent read. It is an urgent, compelling book, which I read over only a couple of days and would recommend to anyone with the vaguest interest in organised crime.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scary but true..., 11 Jun. 2008
By 
bloodsimple (nottingham, uk) - See all my reviews
This review is from: McMafia: Crime without Frontiers (Hardcover)
This a frightening but fascinating book, which brings together the keen-eyed journalism Glenny displayed in the 1990s, with a tale of the kind of organised crime that touches us all, whether we know it or not.

Glenny tours the world, and wisely does not try his hand at thriller-writing as he does so. The stories, and their contexts, are fascinating enough to be simply laid out before us. In each case, the most compelling parts are the history and analysis of how that kind of crime took off, in that place and that time. While there are undercurrents that are common throughout, what stands out starkly are the location and era-specific details of the conditions that allow major crime to flourish. I would have liked to have seen something more about how these national and international crime groups link together; however, given the amount of detail at his disposal, perhaps the author is saving this for his next book.

The level of detail is impressive, and the sources authoritative. Glenny has managed to bring in a tremendous amount of information, without leaving the reader feeling swamped and overwhelmed. The book should be compulsory reading for anyone aspiring to senior levels of government. Because what strikes this reader, is how in each case the myopia, stupidity, connivance and outright greed of governments have created the conditions for organised crime to grow and thrive.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Indepth Study, 14 May 2008
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This review is from: McMafia: Crime without Frontiers (Hardcover)
Misha Glenny delves deep into organised crime in this study of a post cold-war, globalised world. Indepth and at times utterly fascinating this book covers a wide blanket of criminals from the Balkans to India, from Colombia to Russia and beyond.
However the linkage between each criminal group is not evident and there is not a significant coherant argument concerning globalisation. On one hand he appears to advocate the legalisation of all drugs whilst on the other going into great detail concerning tobacco smuggling and counterfeiting and the negative effects this causes.
The pace is at times frantic and it is sometimes hard to keep up with the various names of individuals and groups which at times gives the book a disjointed feel.
However overall this is an incredibly well researched, valuable modern social history.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping thoughtful read, 31 Oct. 2008
By 
1895 "1895" (Maynooth, Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: McMafia: Crime without Frontiers (Hardcover)
An eye-opening look at how the globalisation of organised crime effects day-to-day life-whether we like it or not.

The timing of the liberalistion of the international financial markets and the coincidental collapse of communism in central and eastern Europe and the USSR means that the face of crime has changed for ever.

And as the author points out, so long as the profits are so big and demands for illegal products so high, no amount of policing can ever stamp it out. In fact, the more resources poured in to the "War on Crime", the bigger organised crime becomes......
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Alarming and intriging, 31 Mar. 2008
This review is from: McMafia: Crime without Frontiers (Hardcover)
An excellent expose and account of what is happening in our world today.
We are all culpable and this is the frightening part. Read the book to see why and how. It's very well researched, and has the quality of a first rate thriller.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars McMafia - powered by illegal drugs, 24 April 2008
By 
Barry Tighe "Author Sir Thomas 'British Tomm... (Spawater, Britannicca) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: McMafia: Crime without Frontiers (Hardcover)
McMafia is an argument for the legalisation of drugs. Without explicitly demanding such a thing, it gives the best possible argument for legalising all narcotics; that drug money is the engine of the McMafia.
Misha Glenny covers many more McMafia activities; cigarette smuggling, investment scams, slavery, fake goods, intimidation etc, but behind them all lies drugs and the massive profits they engender.
He points out that we in the west are largely to blame. We buy the fake DVDs, hire the slaves and turn a blind eye to the sweatshops. Mainly, we buy the drugs.
The author's point is that so long as the drug barons grow fat on human misery, so will the McMafia thrive.
A riveting read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Complex, Compelling and Horrifying, Not to be Missed, 13 Dec. 2008
This review is from: McMafia: Crime without Frontiers (Hardcover)
In the form of "McMafia", Misha Glenny has written a first-rate book on the world of organised crime. The book opens with the narration of a brutal shooting in the UK, then discusses the fall of communism and the rise of globalisation, to take us into a world of smuggling, prostitution, gun-running, drug syndicates, drug cartels, protection rackets, money laundering, cybercrime, white collar crime, gang warfare and the manufacture of fake goods, and the connections between these, the economy, the world of business and the world of politics.

The chapters I enjoyed most were the one on Brazil, discussing cybercrime, and on Nigeria, on the subject of white-collar crime. Some of the dirty deeds committed on the orders of the Ukrainian Government, horrifying as they were, also made for an interesting read. My least favourite chapter was the one on South Africa because, of course, the subject of apartheid comes up and racial issues are a hot potato that I prefer to stay well away from.

When I first started reading "McMafia" I found the book quite hard to follow because there were so many different foreign names to remember. This made it fairly easy to put down. But as I read on, it became more and more absorbing and I'm really glad I stuck with it now. "McMafia" is a great piece of journalism and is well worth reading if you're into books on crime but are looking for something a little different.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very readable and jampacked full of interesting facts!, 28 Sept. 2008
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This review is from: McMafia: Crime without Frontiers (Hardcover)
I bought this book after reading a serialisation in a paper, and found it a really fascinating read. Everything from prostitution to guns to drugs to cyber crime to diamonds to people trafficking is covered in a wide ranging examination of the globalised nature of the black market, and its enormous influence on society and politics.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you loved Freakonomics or Fast Food Nation, read this book, 14 April 2008
This review is from: McMafia: Crime without Frontiers (Hardcover)
If you've ever bought knocked off cigarettes or DVDs, taken recreational drugs or paid for sex then you're part of the problem. So says Misha Glenny as he takes us on a spellbinding tour from leafy suburban England where a housewife is mistakenly assassinated instead of her sister, through Bulgaria with its muscle men who would be funny if they weren't so scary, to the black market free for all created by sanctions in the Balkans, to Russia, Africa, India, Israel, Europe, Brazil, Bolivia, Columbia, the US, Canada, Japan and China.
This is an amazing book that tells you how the fall of communism and the deregulation of the financial markets have coincided to create a crime bonanza; 20% of the world's GDP comes from illicit activity.
It's eye-poppingly good. Everyone should read it.
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