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136 of 142 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Opening the Floodgates
Roberto Saviano is a 28 year old man, who grew up in Secondigliano, a rundown of 10,000 inhabitants on the fringe of Naples, of which 2468 residents are incarcerated for mafia and camorra related activities and the rest have simply been abandoned to their fate. It is also the trading centre through which about 80% of Europe's cocaine is filtered through, packaged,...
Published on 17 May 2008 by Emma Jamieson

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31 of 38 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars for bravery, 1 for readability
Whilst one has to applaud the bravery of Saviano this is a terrible read (not helped by a poor translation I suspect). The lists of names, places, killings, businesses etc. are just boring. The prose repeatedly collapses on itself such that the meaning is ambiguous. Italians have a very florid writing style (go and read a translation of a football report to see what I...
Published on 30 Oct 2008 by M. Franchi


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136 of 142 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Opening the Floodgates, 17 May 2008
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Roberto Saviano is a 28 year old man, who grew up in Secondigliano, a rundown of 10,000 inhabitants on the fringe of Naples, of which 2468 residents are incarcerated for mafia and camorra related activities and the rest have simply been abandoned to their fate. It is also the trading centre through which about 80% of Europe's cocaine is filtered through, packaged, distributed, marketed, cut, and sold on. This is an unpalatable reality few outside of Italy understand, care about or are able to believe. And this little book has opened a floodgates, no less for the Italians who have always known the extent of the Camorra's corruption on all levels of italian and international society, but who, out of fear, or inability to get close, have not been able to speak about it in this much detail. Roberto's life has been largely destroyed by the writing of this book. He has had to change identity, separate from his family and lives under 24 hour police escort. But for those who live here, in the shadow of mafia, surrounded by the stink of corruption, of Naples' uncollected rubbish, of silent witnesses and a society still living in a dark middle age marked with bloodshed and hopelessness this book has opened a floodgates which may hope may finally lift the cover on a tragedy that affects not only the entire country, but all of Europe, and the world.
Please read this. The Camorra is not a Scorcese movie, the mafia is not some antiquated clichè. We live with it, and our country is slowly dying because of it. This is not a work of fiction, sadly.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The truth laid bare, 26 Sep 2011
By 
This review is from: Gomorrah: Italy's Other Mafia (Paperback)
With a trip to Naples pending I thought I'd do some travel research and stumbled upon an English copy of Gomorrah in a bookshop in Trento, Northern Italy. I'm no expert on the mafia and generally don't read this type of book but I found it gripping, a tough read and utterly depressing. The way Saviano writes it, it isn't just the ruthlessness of "the system" which is shocking but how connected it is with the rest of the world - Comorrah men in Aberdeen, connections with Balkan organised crime, how infiltrated it is even in the legal economic system. Their strength is but growing and their means becoming more ingenious all the time. It leaves a bitter taste and also a feeeling of helplessness. At times the lists of names and places can be a bit confusing and it's a book you need to take your time over. I had no problem with translation and thought generally it flowed well, with some beautiful lines. I like the way he intersperses the factual with personal reflections and is on the ground - this is where he grew up, he knows it, he knows the people and it becomes an obsession which almost destroys him, a fact he recognises. So it's more than a mafia history, it's the story of him too. Ultimately I found inspiring the fact that he wrote this book and put his freedom and life on the line; he sacrificed something to reveal the truth, and that lifts more than the ugliness of Comorrah and its hold on our way of life brings down.
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An act of bravery, 7 Aug 2008
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Saviano's insight on this deadly subject made me wonder a few times about his personal relationship with the people he so openly denounces. This is a 28-year-old courageous man who has decided to put his life on the line to cast some light into the darkest area of Italy's social and political life. When I read the first chapter, I had the distinct feeling that what I had in my hands was a truly ground-breaking book. When I read about the links between organised crime and global trade, and to such a scale as well, I could understand why Italy is in the G8 in spite of its disastrous economy and almost irreversible ideological void. Who thinks that organised crime is a phenomenon contained within the Italian peninsula, must think again. Eye-opening and inspirational.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I think this book should have never been translated!, 27 May 2009
By 
A. Felice - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Finally someone has the guts of letting the world know what happens in the South of Italy, telling a truly and insight truth. I am from Naples I know every single person and story that has been mentioned in the book, but to read it has still surprised me! It has given me a view of what there is behind the killings or the street's telling; of how big is this empire in the world, not just in Italy as everyone always thinks. Unfortunately to let the world know about this the only way was to translate this book, which I think it's impossible to translate it to make you all feel the goose bumps.
Please do not read this book if you only reads books expecting a drama story or a romantic ending, etc...this is reality, this is what happens behind your backs on a daily basis, this is about the power and about people above us which preside over the nations.
Don't bother to leave negative reviews about this book simply because you cannot understand, or you find it boring, you will never understand anything like this in life.
I bow to Saviano's courage and I seriously hope there will be more people willing to risk his life to give this kind of knowledge to the world!
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51 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars COMPELLING READING, 14 Jan 2008
I have read this book in the original language a year ago and it is still quite clear in my mind. The courageous Roberto Saviano is a master in telling true stories , and this book gives you a powerful insight of the Neapolitan mafia and the wider implications for us all in an extremely readable & compelling manner. A MUST for anyone interested in Italy and Italian current affairs. Once you start reading it you cannot put it down!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating and unique perspective on the world today, 19 Dec 2008
By 
Keris Nine - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Gomorrah: Italy's Other Mafia (Paperback)
A passionate, troubling and at times personally conflicted exposé of the Neapolitan mafia the Camorra, Roberto Saviano examines the origins, the history and the bloody rise to power of the various clans to become a powerful and influential force not just in Campania or Italy but throughout the world. In Gomorrah, in a manner that would force him to go into hiding following publication, he names names, examines the environment that gave rise to the Camorra, and tries to understand the thought processes behind their actions, behaviour and their business practices.

What is revealed is staggering and on a scale almost beyond the ability of the reader to grasp. Saviano shows a more widespread and powerful organisation than the more well-known Sicilian mafia, a confederation of clans and cartels that has its fingers in almost every aspect of world commerce - not just gun-running and drug-dealing, but in everything from the fashion industry (passing off high quality copies with the tacit agreement of the main fashion houses) to electronic goods and even monopolising the waste disposal industry. In a nice symmetry, the novel opens by looking at how all the world's commerce passes through Naples, and ends with a look at how it all comes back to Naples as waste to be illegally disposed of in the surrounding countryside.

Exceptionally well-written in this respect, full of poetic, original and insightful observations (which some clearly find difficult to read) that strive to capture the enormity of the scale of the Camorra's activities, the book can also be quite shocking, describing the killings and clan wars, the battles over territory, the grim tortures and executions carried out to anyone who opposes the System. It's a fascinating look at the manners and morals not just of the Camorra, but of the world today, of big business of the most ruthless sort taken to its ultimate extreme, with no social conscience or long-term outlook. Truly terrifying.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Soul moving, brilliant, 9 Feb 2010
By 
Magdalena Czaja "Leash" (Bistol,UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Gomorrah: Italy's Other Mafia (Paperback)
Great book written with good language.
It is ubelievable what I read in that book. It would never occured for me how nearly whole the Europe is controlled by mafias.
Some of the facts are really brutal and it's more like a criminal movie than reality. So, when you think it is reality, it makes you shiver.
That's more than I expected.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Napoli /The World, 25 April 2010
By 
This review is from: Gomorrah: Italy's Other Mafia (Paperback)
GOMORRAH - the question is this; how does anyone live a good life under such a corrupt society?
Organised crime has not simply infiltrated everyday life. It has intervened, at the most basic of levels, every business, trade, profession and commerce at the very roots - meaning: the people, the workers in the field, the farmers, the growers, the merchants, the store owners, the buyers, customers, you, him, her, me. Every one of us, from apple-pickers to presidents.

How can you trust a politician that has been exposed as a liar, a fraud, a scam-merchant, a gravy-train-robber, a cash-for-questions dealer?
How about a cop, a judge, a media baron? How do we know who has already been bought and paid for? Who exactly is in whom's pocket?

Gomorrah is not just about Naples. Roberto Saviano has demonstrated that the likes of the Camorra have spread their tentacles across the globe; dealing not just in heroin and cocaine, ecstasy, and weed, or the very things we all take for granted, cement, bricks and mortar; but in environmental waste: pollution, toxic leftovers from manufacturing, asbestos, arsenic and all kinds of poisonous chemicals and compounds. Not content with the profits from that they judge it convenient to interfere with the thing we should, and indeed must, hold sacred: our land, our soil, our rivers, streams and seas: waste printer toner might sound innocuous but would you want to ingest it with your carrots, cabbbage or cucumber? How about some tasty Cadmium?

An oil spillage makes headline news but a rusty old stinking ship full of toxic waste does not. It is a double win for the main man. He buys a floating piece of sea-going junk, fills the holds, stuffs it, at a price, with the crap, garbage that European cities do not want left on their doorstep, sinks it in the ocean and then claims the insurance. Done deal. No one is hurt. No one suffers. Where are our fish? Then there's landfill - just what do you think you are eating? What is seeping through our soil and into our rivers, being absorbed into our daily bread?

This is not enough; try people-smuggling, porn, enforced prostitution, paedophilia. Live off the world's poorest, desperate and starved.

Not content with destroying our environment with corruption, with toxins, with drugs, with destroying the lives of young and old, they introduce arms.

The Kaleshnikov is the most succesful weapon of all time. Easy to use, easy to clean, and cheap. A five-year-old can, and has, used one - to kill.

Not content with this the major players on the map of global destruction move into the realm of transporting atomic waste: stuff that is lethal for many several human generations if not properly contained. Not content with the profits from this they decide to sell this 'waste' on to countries that have a desire to refine this stuff into missile-grade weaponry. Not content with this they decide to smuggle and sell ex-soviet weapons stores to nations eager to go to war for profit.

I could go on but I think you've got the picture by now. So, and it is a big SO; back to the original question: how does anyone live a good life under such a corrupt society? You don't. You either keep your head down and your mouth shut or you get dead. The only other alternative is to do what Roberto Saviano has done - name names, point out the guilty, have bodyguards.

You don't have to live in Naples to get murdered for opening your mouth but it helps. Shout loud enough and you will get killed anywhere on the planet.

I only wish that I, and society in general, were honest and brave enough to shout our mouths off about these 'destroyers' as Saviano has done so explicitly.

Read it and weep for our world.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The only thing you learn in the black hole of Naples is how to die, 13 Dec 2008
By 
Luc REYNAERT (Beernem, Belgium) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Gomorrah: Italy's Other Mafia (Paperback)
In going undercover, R. Saviano experienced at first hand the Mafia at work in the Naples region.
It is a story of savage infighting, bid-rigging, trafficking and relentless slaughtering of competition.

Economics
Mafia business is one of the most aggressive forms of neoliberalism. It is a naked struggle among clans in order to create monopolies and to maximize profits. Their activities cover as different sectors as real estate, construction, cement, garment, farming, sugar and trafficking of drugs, cigarettes, arms and waste. A clan cartel could generate as much as 30 billion euros of revenues per year.
The author also clearly explains the bidding contest for contracts in the garment industry, where small `illegal' factories with harsh working conditions are tailoring even unique pieces for the top names in the industry.

Ethics and creed
For the Mafia, ethics equal protection of the defeated. Justice and injustice have only significance as victory or defeat. The only thing that counts is the law of the strongest, are the means to rule.
Its members don't consider their activities as contradictory to the Christian message as long as those activities are good for the clan and its affiliates. Killing of enemies and traitors is seen as a legitimate transgression of the fifth commandment.

Lifestyle
Once in a commanding position, most bosses are confronted with the long arm of the law. They are always on the run and are not capable of enjoying their wealth. They become prisoners of their own business empire.

A big part of the book unravels a secession war between Mafia families and the killing of a priest. The relentless bestial slaughterings become rather boring and can only be fully appreciated by insiders.

Roberto Saviano wrote a courageous book exposing business empires built on monopolies, extortion and brutal power struggles. It is a picture of a lawless society.
Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read!, 9 Sep 2011
This review is from: Gomorrah: Italy's Other Mafia (Paperback)
This is a book that everyone should read at least once in their lifetime. Very eye-opening and touching at moments. I was spending my 3 month summer time nearby Naples in 2004, just before the mafia war begun. I could not believe how unaware I was then when going shoping locally or wandering around on my own.
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Gomorrah: Italy's Other Mafia
Gomorrah: Italy's Other Mafia by Roberto Saviano (Paperback - 4 Nov 2011)
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