First published nearly a quarter of a century ago, this work gives a detailed account of the typical career of mafiosi. It describes a distinct sub-culture whose behavioural patterns have been largely determined by the specific political, economic and social history of Sicily, a society characterized by a weak state and organized on the basis of self-help. This sub-culture was and is the breeding ground for the strong-arm-man "mafioso" - or "uomo d'onore" ("man of honour"), as he is called in Sicily; the proud, taciturn, independent man who believes in the use of violence to achieve personal goals. As a rule, the men come from poor families and rise through violent crime, shrewd diplomacy, and the building of a "family" of followers to a respected position of power and wealth. Most important are the mafioso's reciprocal arrangements with politicians and government officials whom he supports in the elections and who protect him from law enforcement. Mafia, popularly perceived as a strictly centralized secret society, is described in the book as a system of independent families which might on many occasions co-operate, but just as easily be driven to bloody feud.
Only in very recent years have there been a number of so-called "pentiti", crown witnesses who co-operate with the criminal-justice system. Using their testimonies, an extensive afterword has been added for this edition.
Publisher: New York University Press
Number of pages: 1
Weight: 386 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 mm
"An impressive addition. Hess has written with excellent historical insight, bringing to light new facts and offering what is in important respects a new interpretation of them."
-Times Literary Supplement
"The book is excellently written and sets out its case with clarity, elaborate detail, and the useful addition of a restrained imagination."