The Japanese Yakuza. The Chinese Triads. The Sicilian Cosa Nostra. The Calabrian N’Drangheta. The New York Mafia. The Russian Vory -v -Vakone.
Today, mafias operate across the globe, with hundreds of thousands of members and billions of pounds in revenue. From Hong Kong to New York, these vast organisations spread their tentacles into politics, finance and everyday life. But what is it like to belong to the Mafia? How do you join? What does it do to your loved ones? How do you make it to the top? And what happens if you break the rules?
Criminologist Federico Varese draws on a lifetime’s research to give us access to some of the world’s most secretive societies. Mixing reportage with case studies and historical insights, this is the story of mafia as it really is: filled with boredom and drama, death and disaster, ambition and betrayal.
Infiltrating initiation ceremonies from Russia to England, visiting exclusive gambling clubs in Macau and Mafia summits in Dubai luxury hotels, Varese builds up a unique picture of life in the mafia from the inside.
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Federico Varese, who has made organised crime a life’s work, is the capo di tutti capi of mafia studies. His desire to pierce ever more deeply through the layers of violence, comradeship, greed, corruption and pathos of men, at once parasitical on societies and contemptuous of them, plunges him into their worlds to discover that, different as the mafias are, at root they are the same. (Financial Times)
Excellent … each chapter shines a new light on a fundamental aspect of mafia activity. (Misha Glenny Times Literary Supplement)
Federico Varese is two writers rolled into one: a fearless fact-hunter who goes after his quarry with the zeal of a thoroughbred journalist, and a dedicated academic who examines and analyzes his catch with relentless detachment. (John le Carré)
Wide-ranging … digs deep into the culture and practices of the mafia (Daily Telegraph)
In this beautifully penned book, the reader has the opportunity to go beyond the fabricated mafia image usually offered to the public. Mafia Life is a landmark text exploring realms of power and looking at these contested men of our time from an anthropological point of view (Dr Baris Cayli LSE Review of Books)
An intoxicating narrative that tugs the reader from Hong Kong to Moscow, Salford to New Jersey, Tokyo to Sicily in search of the essence of Mafia Life. There is humour, pathos and poignancy amid stories of violence, corruption and intimidation. It begins and ends, festively, in a snowswept Russian graveyard. But it leaves you anything but cold. (Alistair Fraser, University of Glasgow)