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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Oh, for a return to the bad old days of the Cold War, 8 Dec 2002
By 
Joseph Haschka (Glendale, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Red Mafiya (Mass Market Paperback)
RED MAFIYA by Robert Friedman is a disquieting book in which he chronicles the waves of arrival and expansion of the Russian mob in the US. The first wave came during the period of the Cold War, when the criminals arrived in the guise of Jewish dissident refugees, settling in Brighton Beach, New York. The second wave came after the dissolution of the USSR, when the new freedoms allowed by perestroika opened the floodgates to the Russian "wiseguys", some with previous connections to the KGB and military, now swarming into Miami, Denver and Los Angeles. Since then, the Red Mafiya has relentlessly extended its tentacles into, and sometimes completely around, such diverse activities and entities as the Russian government, Wall Street, the Russian and Swiss banking systems, the State of Israel, and the US National Hockey League. One of the Mafiya's most startling characteristics is the viciousness of its members. A viciousness forged into a steely hardness under Soviet totalitarianism, and which makes the dons of the Italian Mafia look like a bunch of kindly grandfathers. It causes one to look fondly back on the bad old days of the Cold War, when at least the Soviet security apparatus had its indigenous criminals under some measure of control, i.e. in some Arctic gulag where they could tear at each other's throats instead of ours.
I have mixed feelings about this book. First of all, it's not one I would've bought on my own - it was a gift. I mean, living in Southern California I 'm well aware that there are loathsome elements "out there": mafias of whatever national origin, Latino gangs, Armenian gangs, Chinese gangs, Vietnamese gangs, South American drug cartels. Hell, maybe even brotherhoods of Eskimo assassins for all I know. The best I can do is stay out of their way, much as I avoid dog excrement on the sidewalk. There's not much I can personally do about them except support law enforcement agencies with my tax dollars, which, by the way, are legally extorted from me at 33% or more of my income. (I might well wonder which group is hurting me the most.) On the other hand, as the author points out, the damage that the Red Mafiya is doing to the Motherland may eventually cause a disgusted populace to elevate to leadership a Hitler-like figure - and he's going to have nukes to play with. This is a scary thought. On that basis, I have to applaud Friedman on the courage it took to write such a fine and informative piece of investigative journalism in the face of extreme personal danger. Honor is due.
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Red Mafiya
Red Mafiya by Robert I. Friedman (Mass Market Paperback - 1 Oct 2002)
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