Two of my fondest memories from last Christmas in Greece were these two books on Camorra, Napoli’s local brand of mafiosi.
Storia della Camorra (Η Ιστορία της Καμόρα) is an immensely interesting and well-researched history book by Naples native journalist/ writer Vittorio Paliotti. Chock-full of historical documents, anecdotal stories and the most minute detail on Camorra practice and ritual, Storia della Camorra is so well-written it reads like a charm from the beginning to the end. It is one of those few books that will delight both history and literature buffs equally.
The cherry on top is that the Greek translation of Storia della Camorra uses old Greek street lingo, which gives the book an eerily authentic feel.
As there is no English translation of this wonderful book, interested English speakers will have to brush up on their Greek- or Italian- to experience it.
My only gripe with the book was that it dedicated too little space to what the Camorra has been up to since its revival in the 1970s. Good thing I had bought Roberto Saviano’s Gomorrah in the meantime.
Gomorrah (Γόμορρα – Ταξίδι στην οικονομική αυτοκρατορία και στο όνειρο για κυριαρχία της Καμόρρα) is the book that sent its author, Roberto Saviano, into hiding and police protection after death threats by Camorra godfathers, understandably angry at the book’s content – for this book has a lot to be angry about if you are a Camorra godfather.
Saviano, combining fact, personal experience and prose, delivers a scathing indictment of a book: he deconstructs Camorra’s modern operational structure, sheds light on its links with the Italian economy and society, names and shames major Camorra figures and most importantly, highlights the implications of Camorra’s operations for Naples, Italy and the wider European area. This, I believe, is the biggest contribution of his book to the debate on organised crime in Italy and Europe: illustrating how the activity of organisations like Camorra can extend far beyond its local context and affect everyone from Neapolitan drug addicts to Chinese labourers – and even a number of Saviano’s Northern European readers. In today’s globalised world, Saviano tells us, there is no such thing as localised crime. Can’t recommend this highly enough.
English speakers who haven’t checked it out yet need to head over to PanMacmillan to get their selves a copy; Greek speakers had better invest in the Patakis edition, an excellent job both in terms of translation and book binding.