Monday, May 11, 2009

I've been to Gomorrah and back

I finally got to read Roberto Saviano's critically praised Gomorrah, his personal account of living among the organized crime families in Naples. The Camorra, the network of thug families living in Naples, makes the Sicilian mafia look like wimps. In Naples, no one escapes the clutches of Camorra because they control everything: jobs, businesses, and even the government. Basically, if you want to survive, says Saviano, you learn to deal with these families.

Saviano's expose leaves nothing to the imagination on how destructive the Camorra can be in this part of Italy. They kill ruthlessly, often not discriminating between innocent civilians and their target. Some of the natives have become so accustomed to the killings that they don't even bother to have their bullet-riddled windows replaced. When there's a war between two Camorra families, killings happen every single day.

Gomorrah is probably one of the best nonfiction books to come out recently. Saviano's thorough research lets you in all the gritty details of how the Camorra actually works and how these families corrupt everything they touch. Saviano spares no details: which families have close ties with elected officials, which people are responsible for killing rival Camorra clan members, etc. What's also alarming is how the Camorra clans employ boys as young as 12 years old to do some of their dirty work. For these boys, being part of the Camorra is their ticket to money, power, and women. Sad, but oh so true.

I found this book in the movie tie-in section of the bookstore. I'll definitely look around for a copy of the movie in DVD. The movie was also well-received. I just hope that Saviano is doing well; he was placed under police protection after the publication of Gomorrah. In a world that's screwed up, death threats by the dozen are what you get when you're honest.

Read this book if:
  1. You want to see the darker side of Italy.
  2. Godfather is your all-time favorite movie.
  3. You think that being part of the mafia is actually a good thing.


line of flight said...

fascinating. does he get much into the psychological reasons of why people come together in a "family" and do all these destructive things?

Peter Michael C. Sandico said...

Hello, line of flight! Saviano doesn't really go into the psychological reasons for all those Camorra activities. Still, it's a fascinating read.

the geek said...

ill have to look for that book...