Constructed around the mafia trial of Giulio Andreotti in 1995, this narrative combines a history of the Cosa Nostra with travel writing, accounts of Italian life and Sicilian food. When Giulio Andreotti, seven times Italian Prime Minister, was put on trial on charges of mafia involvement and incitement to murder, the whole fabric of living, and ...Read MoreConstructed around the mafia trial of Giulio Andreotti in 1995, this narrative combines a history of the Cosa Nostra with travel writing, accounts of Italian life and Sicilian food. When Giulio Andreotti, seven times Italian Prime Minister, was put on trial on charges of mafia involvement and incitement to murder, the whole fabric of living, and dying, in Southern Italy was put into question. Slowly, the all-pervasive influence and power of the Cosa Nostra and their unchallenged bosses began to be uncovered. Peter Robb not only examines the role of the mafia in Italy; his account looks at the beauty of the country, its food in markets and restaurants, as well as portraits of the many people involved in the trial.Read Less
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Publishers Weekly, 1998-02-09 This is not a travel book, but rather a sophisticated attempt to make sense of the on-going prosecution of the 78-year-old seven-time prime minister, Giulio Andreotti, and of the intimate ties between the mafia and postwar Italian politics. An Australian by birth, Robb is not just parachuting in to gawk at the corruption that traded in votes, money, government contracts and even assassinations. A longtime resident of Naples, Robb adeptly puts the elusive world of organized crime (both Neapolitan and Sicilian) in a historical context that stretches back to the 19th century. In Sicily, however, organized crime is not an isolated institution and its pervasiveness is suggested by Robb's brilliant interweaving of writers such as Leonardo Sciascia, Giuseppe di Lampedusa, Pier Paolo Pasolini and the artist Renato Guttuso. Many artists saw a connection between the rich food of Sicily and the mob, which Robb expertly exploits, even repeating an ironic quote from Andreotti himself: "I found myself with my stomach full of marvelous but terrible food, the pasta con le sarde, the cassata and not only did I not understand a thing there but I was ill too. I wonder whether there's a connection between food like this and the growth of the mafia." Those who treasured Excellent Cadavers, Alexander Stille's magnificent study of magistrates Giovanni Falcone, Paolo Borsellino and the mafia "maxitrial," will appreciate Robb's epic story of evil and nobility. (Mar.)
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