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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A chilling and true picture of post-war Sicily
I have been living in Sicily for many years and I can vouch for the accuracy of this account. It is all so true, I wish I could have written it myself. But I would never have had the courage. Thank you, Peter Robb, for having put together the pieces of the mosaic for us; the result is a chilling picture indeed.
Published on 9 Sept. 2000

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars midnight in sicily
The contents of this title are largely taken up with recounting a series of murders by the Mafia in Sicily, to such an extent that the subtitle should be re-ordered to read "The Cosa Nostra, history, travel, on art and food".

This would give the reader a much more helpful idea of the main focus of this book.

The repetition of so many accounts of...
Published on 3 Nov. 2011 by quisisana


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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A chilling and true picture of post-war Sicily, 9 Sept. 2000
By A Customer
I have been living in Sicily for many years and I can vouch for the accuracy of this account. It is all so true, I wish I could have written it myself. But I would never have had the courage. Thank you, Peter Robb, for having put together the pieces of the mosaic for us; the result is a chilling picture indeed.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Too much mafia, not enough art, food and literature., 5 Jun. 2007
I read Peter Robb's 'Death in Brazil', which follows on from this book. I guess Peter didn't feel very safe in Italy after completing his book, and in time honoured fashion fled to Brazil like all people who survive crossing with the mafia.

Like 'Death in Brazil' Peter outlines modern life in his chosen subject matter by crossing modern politics (and historical events) with his subjects culture and guiding ancient history. Robb comes up with all sorts of wonderful gems, such as the fact that the invention of the fork may have solely come about as a means of each spaghetti, a food invention created by Sicilians in the middle ages.

Unfortunately, where 'Death in Brazil' and 'Midnight in Sicily' part is where Robb gets too bogged down trying to explain the intricate connections between the mafia and the government (especially Andreotti's government - for which he was later tried for corruption in respect to his mafia connections). I think the main problem for Robb is that the relationship between Sicilians, Italy and the mafia is so intricately woven that not even he could easily explain the mafias accepted existence.

From a British perspective it is very shocking to see that another European nation is heavily mired in corruption and illigalities even to this day.

This is a good book, there are one or two moments when the chapters do not seem to close out as quickly as you would hope, but if you persevere you'll find this book a gem.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars midnight in sicily, 3 Nov. 2011
The contents of this title are largely taken up with recounting a series of murders by the Mafia in Sicily, to such an extent that the subtitle should be re-ordered to read "The Cosa Nostra, history, travel, on art and food".

This would give the reader a much more helpful idea of the main focus of this book.

The repetition of so many accounts of killings meant I was unable to finish reading this book. It would be more suited to a reader who has an interest in the gruesome doings of the Cosa Nostra and Italian politics. The other subjects listed are very much secondary.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great read, 10 July 2006
By 
I'd just read Lampedusa's dazzling 'The Leopard' when I spotted this by chance in a bookshop and got hooked while flicking through.

I really enjoyed it. As other reviewers have noted, 'Midnight in Sicily' combines all sorts of aspects of Sicilian life and history, from the development of the fork to domestic violence. It gives a lot of jaw-dropping, eye-opening information about the mafia, and about how Cosa Nostra's influence had spread to politics and the Vatican before its existence was even acknowledged.

The book deals mainly with the period of time between the 40's and the 80's, and I thought it was a pity that it didn't run up to the present day - although this would probably be impossible.

Robb's heart seems to belong chiefly to Naples, and I found the chapters on Neapolitan life perhaps the most interesting.

I very much liked Robb's writing voice. The author clearly had a wide and detailed knowledge of his subject(s), but he never lectured, and managed the very difficult trick of balancing his own experiences and observances with an objective perspective. He was informed, discursive, conversational, intelligent without being stuck-up. And some of his descriptive writing is amazing.

If I were to make any criticisms, it would be that there was just a bit too much detail for my liking, some of it repetitive; and also that although the book's main subject by a country mile is the mafia, the way the book is marketed does not reflect this.

Highly recommended.

(F, 31)
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping combination of politics, Mafia and food, 11 July 2001
By 
Nick Lincoln (Watford, England) - See all my reviews
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Every other reviewer gives this 5 stars, and I have to agree. I read this before my honeymoon in Taormina, Sicily, and found it unputdownable. Anyone interested in cuisine, the Mafia, corruption, EU / Italian politics, history and culture will find enough in this book to grip them. If, like me, you are fascinated by a lot of these variables then the book is fantastic. If the reviews lead you to think the book is too dark in tone, there are just enough positives to convince even a sceptic like Robb that perhaps Sicily (and indeed Italy) has confronted the cancer that is the Mafia. Cured itself, no, not yet.
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55 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All the passion and sadness of life on a bittersweet island, 23 July 2001
I read Peter Robb's capolavoro while on holiday in Sicily. My first two nights were in Palermo, where I noticed that once the shops close no one dares the time-honoured tradition of the evening passeggiata. And a day later, I read why, in Peter Robb's prose. You hear a footstep round a corner, a door shuts somewhere, but nowhere do you see the people. They vanish as night falls. What you sense in Sicily but can't explain, Peter Robb puts into words. It is better than any guidebook and the nearest you'll come to getting under the skin of the place. The book is a strange juxtaposition of topics. He can take you from a three-page history of caponata, quoting the Italian Mrs Beeton, Alda Busi, and Elizabeth David, to a harrowing account of Mafiosi murders, and all within the turn of a page. Yet none of this seems strange. I went from seeing women begging on the street with week-old babies in their arms to the jet-set Milanese within four hours - from Palermo to the Aeolian Islands in summer holiday mood. The book is both passion and sadness. The elements of life worth experiencing - in prose, even if you never have the chance to set foot in Sicily to experience them in the flesh.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sicily in your room., 15 Jun. 2013
By 
Mr. G. Morgan "wes" (Haywards Heath, England) - See all my reviews
Robb is a brave man. To go to Sicily many times and wander round, speaking of matters people are not keen to talk about; then again, writing a book about journeys over time and in one relatively small place is not exactly travel; nor is it an just account of the Mafia, although his account of it is profound and essential to begin to understand Italy beyond its cliches. It transcends genre, is good in so many ways, is highly ambitious. His purpose is to make you feel, to sense and therefore to begin to understand Sicily, which means the senses, not just the intellect. This is difficult because the place is so odd. Where a Prime Minister (7 times) rises and later falls, the Boss of Bosses Toto Riina, is betrayed while on the run...at home. This is a compelling account of the rise of the Mafia and their Neopolitan counterparts the Camorra and the filthy deals done, usually with demochristian politician. Robb will not judge openly any more than he winces in telling of the blood. The last quarter of the book follows the death and legacy of the painter Gattuso, a likeable Leninist if of seemingly few political principles, what Brecht might have called "a useful man". On his death, a mysterious adoption was arranged and his mistress Marta and natural son were squeezed out. In his final days Andreotti and the Communists had declared him lucid; plainly Robb trusts neither. Taking the case to law leads, predictably, nowhere; Jarndyce vs. Jarndyce comes to mind as another moral fog is shown to shroud this troubling, beguiling place. You can infer throughout a profound disturbance; Robb conveys this in fine quotation and descriptive skill, in a style accommodating food and mood, both considerable presences here, with high rhetoric to imply the bigger moral points, especially of the innocent; his judgements are implicit, which is an interesting decision. He writes well of food - a constant motif, showing us he really know it, we can almost taste it and the tragedy, the awful toll of the pointless dead. Here's a book that gives you an experience, real feeling. Above all, he wants you to feel. Fascinating.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not just the best book on Sicily, but the most accessible account of modern Italian history., 7 Jan. 2015
By 
Marius Gabriel "Author" (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: Midnight in Sicily (Kindle Edition)
Although Peter Robb's book is largely set in the Mezzogiorno, especially in Naples and Palermo, there isn't a better introduction to the extraordinary history of Italy between 1980 and 2000.

For those who didn't go through this period, let it be said that you couldn't make it up. The amazing antics of the Italian state in this period are touched on in such films as The Godfather III, and might be mistaken for imaginative fiction. Unholy alliances between the Christian Democrats, the Vatican, the Mafia, the banks, the police and the terrorists are traced by Robb, who is a brilliant writer with a style that ranges from deadpan Aussie to lyrically poetic.

Murderous, barefaced, corrupt and hair-raising as are the events he recounts, it is his love for Sicily that really makes this book magical. Descriptions of Palermo, the Vucciria and the countryside of southern Italy are hauntingly accurate, as are his accounts of friendships with the dour, complex folk known as Sicilians. As a half-Sicilian, I don't think any proper account can be given of Sicily unless one has a love for the country -- and this Robb has in abundance

I would recommend this book over more systematic attempts to explain Sicily, such as Excellent Cadavers. Anecdotal in structure, it is immensely addictive. I first read it around 2003, and on rereading it this year, immediately wanted to start from the beginning again. It's that sort of book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, gripping and very readable, 25 Feb. 2000
By A Customer
This is an excellently written book on a still very frequently discussed subject in Italy, so not only is it interesting from an historical aspect, it is also very relevant to Italy today. I found it particularly fascinating as I read it just after the conclusion of the Andreotti trials of which the initial stages are described in the book. Amazing when you reflect on what is described in the book that in fact Andreotti got off scott-free!
Very highly recommended, and brings to the fore a beautiful, interesting and historically fascinating part of Italy which is too often forgotten or disregarded by the Tuscanites of the world.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Apocalyptic vision of Sicily deserving consideration and doubt, 20 Aug. 2011
By 
John Harpur (Trim, Meath, IRELAND) - See all my reviews
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Robb's book divides its characters into Black hats and White hats. This makes for exciting narrative and strong characterisation but it also leads to broad brush strokes. Sicily is a prison where the inmates are decent people and the guards Mafiosi in league with establishment politicians. This is the foundational tenet of the text upon which a staggering edifice of murder and betrayal is built. At the time this book was written the outlook may have looked bleak almost apocalyptic for Siciliy and Italy in the eyes of some observers but it reads now as unbalanced. Good journalism but weak cultural history.
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Midnight in Sicily
Midnight in Sicily by Peter Robb
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