A Personal Journey into the Violent International Empire of Naples' Organized Crime System
By Roberto Saviano, translated by Virginia Jewiss
A groundbreaking major bestseller in Italy, Gomorrah is Roberto Savianos gripping nonfiction account of the decline of Naples under the rule of the Camorra, an organized crime network with a large international reach and stakes in construction, high fashion, illicit drugs, and toxic-waste disposal. Known by insiders as the System, the Camorra affects cities and villages along the Neapolitan coast, and is the deciding factor in why Campania, for instance, has the highest murder rate in all of Europe and why cancer levels there have skyrocketed in recent years.
Saviano tells of huge cargoes of Chinese goods that are shipped to Naples and then quickly distributed unchecked across Europe. He investigates the Camorras control of thousands of Chinese factories contracted to manufacture fashion goods, legally and illegally, for distribution around the world, and relates the chilling details of how the abusive handling of toxic waste is causing devastating pollution not only for Naples but also China and Somalia. In pursuit of his subject, Saviano worked as an assistant at a Chinese textile manufacturer, a waiter at a Camorra wedding, and on a construction site. A native of the region, he recalls seeing his first murder at the age of fourteen, and how his own father, a doctor, suffered a brutal beating for trying to aid an eighteen-year-old victim who had been left for dead in the street.
Gomorrah is a bold and important work of investigative writing that holds global significance, one heroic young man's impassioned story of a place under the rule of a murderous organization.
"Starred Review. Eye-opening and sobering" - Kirkus Reviews.
"Starred Review. A perfectly realized, morally compelling journey through the brutal world of contemporary Italian mob life . . . A stunning achievement, this is a must-read for anyone interested in the state of contemporary Europe." - Publishers Weekly.
"Musically translated by Jewiss (senior lecturer, Trinity Coll., CT, Rome campus), this stunning expose from a truly courageous informant belongs in all libraries." - Library Journal.
But the great value of Gomorrah is to highlight two points: the power and wealth that southern Italy's Mafias have accumulated in recent years, and the fact that their globalisation makes them an issue of concern for us all. His description of the effects of gang war on ordinary people (Women stop wearing high heelstoo hard to run in them) is masterly. His final chapter, set in the apocalyptic wilderness of the Camorra's smouldering waste dumps, is inspiredand prescient, as the garbage crisis in Naples unfolds.
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Rated of 5
Hard to get through
The opening was gripping, but not enough to offset the next 50 pages. The writer is prone to run-on metaphors, names Italian families and cities with little background and seems scattered. It shapes up after that, but it's hard getting there. And "the anus of the sea" is just a little too visual for me.
Rated of 5
Globalization at its Worst
Author Robert Svaiano worked undercover as an assistant to a Asian textile manufacturer to document how China is involved in the black market of Europe from high-end clothing to low-end junk.
He then collected evidence on the Camorra mob. A mob that technically owns Naples, Italy, especially its poor people.
The violence, the audacity, the subterfuge is as amazing as it is sickening. Toxic waste is dumped where it's feasible, not safe. Tags denoting where items are made mean nothing. Bribes can buy anything.
It's a book of horrors that surely involves far more places than Naples and makes any and all products we buy anywhere suspect.
An interesting read. Another condemnation of China. Also it looks at how the criminal element changes to meet new world challenges.
Rated of 5
A Living Hell
Roberto Saviano paints a brilliant, bloody portrait of his hometown Naples, Italy. Far from the lovely image the tourist bureau would have you believe, lies a dirty, corrupt, toxic, violent world controlled by organized crime whose reach extends throughout the world. Shocking!
Rated of 5
I found Roberto Saviano's book a fasinating trip into the Camorra underworld.He writes almost poeticly in parts.Extremly riviting throughout. A book that can be read in one setting.
Rated of 5
This book was hard to put down once I started reading it and at times I had to remind myself I wasn't reading a novel. I believe this book will have limited appeal due to the violence throughout. I think the book would benefit from an audio version read by the author. I admire Roberto Saviano for his fearlessness in sharing his story.
Rated of 5
Roberto Saviano takes us into the underworld of Naples by infiltrating the operations of the Camorra. The majority of this book is an exposé on clan dealings and clan wars - think The Godfather or the Sopranos but more vicious and intense. The chapter on the Secondigliano War (the bloody Camorra turf war) is extremely graphic.
I was most interested when Saviano talked about Naples’ ports, China’s ties with the black market fashion industry in Italy and the illegal dumping of toxic waste, but these topics are covered only in the first and last chapters. Everything in between is soaked in violence. While the author does try to penetrate the criminal psychology of the Camorra, it is the brutality that will stay in your mind.
I’m glad I read Gomorrah for what I learned, but it was far too violent for my taste.
As of January 2008, Gomorrah has sold 750,000 copies in Italy alone - earning 28-year-old Roberto Saviano death threats and a round-the-clock police escort.
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