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Cosa Nostra: A History of the Sicilian Mafia

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  1,123 ratings  ·  69 reviews
Cosa Nostra vividly reconstructs the stories of the men and women who have lived and died in the mafia's shadow. It explains how the mafia began, how it responds to threats and challenges and how it maintains its grip on the society where it was born. Cosa Nostra takes us inside the thought-processes of the mafia's leaders and foot soldiers, its friends and its foes. Its c ...more
Paperback, 483 pages
Published August 2nd 2004 by Hodder Headline (first published 2004)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,312)
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Christopher Ashley
surprisingly thorough and readable history of the mafia in sicily. shame they had to blow up all those fiat 500s.
Panos Maris
A comprehensive and telling account of the mafia, this book takes effort in targeting the exact inception of this vague and shadowy group. It's also a slap to the face to all my Italian peers who attribute mafiosi behavior to the mainland, when clearly it originated amongst their islander counterpart. Any historian who appreciates meticulous writing will surely find wealth in this accurate but often grotesque text.
To say Cosa Nostra is well done is not enough. We are talking about tracing Mafia in the late 1800s in Sicily, its exportation to America in the early 1900s and its development since. You will not find the climax of Mario Puzo's The Godfather because Cosa Nostra is a chronological trace. John Dickie may have set out to educate through his book and not to thrill. However a story of mafiosi and mafioso will always be a tale of excitement.

The lowlight is that Dickie touches much of much which mean
True Crime is my guilty pleasure; the majority of what I read is sensationalist tripe; but I do love it so. My ex wife refers to it as 'dick-lit'

This on the other hand is a well researched, bona fide history book coupled with all the joys and readability of a good thriller. It looks at the Sicilian mafia from it's inception right up to the modern day. Some of these Sicilian guys make Jon Gotti look like a choir boy and think nothing of assassinating High Court Judges or Politicians; riveting stu
I am giving this excellently written, informative book top rating even though I have only read just over 70% of it ... twice over because it was so fascinating.

John Dickie has written a clear, insightful history of the Mafia, which is highly enjoyable to read. As I read it, I kept wondering whether by exposing so much knowledge of this sinister organisation, Dickie risks suffering the terrible fate of the two Italian investigators, Falcone and Borselino, who gave their lives in the fight against
Mammamia!!!! Da habe ich mich so auf dieses Buch gefreut, denn seit dem Tod Falcones habe ich mich mit dem Thema nicht mehr ausführlich beschäftigt und ich wollte nach dem Film "Il divo" wieder mal Up to date im Who is Who der Mörder, Wirtschschaftsverbrecher und honorigen Leute sein.

Nach 150 Seiten musste ich das Buch vorerst mal weglegen. Wie kann man derart langweilig über ein so spannendes Thema schreiben und dann auch noch die Wiederholungen, die Unübersichtlichkeit.....grauslich!!! - Ich b
I've just got the updated version. This is the most authoritave book on the Sicilian Mafia available in English.

The following here is my Indonesian review on the book, first posted in another site :

Tentunya ingatan akan trilogi The Godfather belum lekang dari ingatan kita. Trilogi tentang mafia yang banyak dipuja-puji di seluruh belahan dunia itu, ternyata disambut dingin di Italia. Banyak yang mengatakan bahwa yang dijabarkan film itu tentang mafia – terutama ketika menyangkut Sisilia – tidakla
Un libro ambizioso, che si propone di ripercorrere la storia della mafia dalle origini ai giorni nostri, ricostruendone le motivazioni, le spinte motrici, i complessi meccanismi relazionali che la governano e che ne segnano al contempo l'evoluzione. Un'opera apprezzabile perché non si ferma ad una mera cronologia di eventi ma si spinge oltre indagandone le cause materiali e psicologiche e le narra in modo coinvolgente e accattivante. Il singolo personaggio o un particolare evento servono all'aut ...more
This hefty book is a history of the Sicilian Mafia from its beginning to modern days.
The first part is interesting and contained lots of details I had not read anywhere else. However, the book's unforgivable flaw comes out pretty early. The author seems to attribute the rise of the Mafia to the incompetence of the political system and the Italian police. Although I tend never to underestimate incompetence as a cause for all evils (especially for Italians), this outlook is fundamentally naive or,
Dvd (all'improvviso)

Un bel saggio su uno degli argomenti più noti e allo stesso tempo confusi fra quelli che riguardano questo contorto e indecifrabile Paese: la mafia siciliana.

L'autore parte da lontano, illustrando le ipotesi più probabili circa la nascita dell'onorata società negli anni immediatamente successivi all'impresa dei Mille e il suo sviluppo nei decenni fino ai giorni nostri (2003), sempre all'ombra dello Stato italiano e sempre sopravvivendo fra alti e bassi con camaleontica capacità. Come noto, la so
Periaatteessa mielenkiintoinen kirja, mutta käytännön toteutus ei aivan yllä sille tasolle, jonka esimerkiksi takakansitekstin perusteella saa. Vaikka kuinka yritin keskittyä kirjaan, lähtivät ajatukset harhailemaan hyvin nopeasti jonnekin aivan muualle, ilmiö, joka omalla kohdallani tapahtuu hyvin harvoin. Aihe on mielenkiintoinen, samoin tapahtumat, mutta teksti ei vain suostu asettumaan järkeväksi, hahmotettavaksi kokonaisuudeksi. En tiedä, oliko syy kirjoitustyylissä vai missä, mutta asiaa e ...more
Mika Auramo
Teos on suomennettu nimellä Cosa Nostra. Sisilian mafian historia. Kirja on vaikuttava lukuelämys kaikille niille, jotka ovat kiinnostuneet Sisilian mafiasta, sen synnystä ja historiasta. Dickie tekee perustavanlaatuista työtä kertoessaan, välillä hyvinkin pikkutarkasti, mafian vaiheista aina 2000-luvulle saakka.

Kirja ei päästä lukijaansa helpolla. Jokainen luku on luettava huolella, sillä eri mafia- ja poliisipäälliköiden osuuden limittyvät eri luvuissa, ja näkökulma tapahtumiin vaihtelee taido
Jim Rimmer
Having previously read Delizia!: The Epic History of the Italians and Their Food I know John Dickie is very thorough in the manner than he tackles subjects and Cosa Nostra: A History of the Sicilian Mafia is no exception. It is through the great arc of history, glorious cast of protagonists, rough hewn landscapes and associated minutiae that the full drama of the mafia finds its power. This book needs to tick along at a rollicking pace to fully cover the 150 or so years of brutality and barbarit ...more
The topic of Cosa Nosta is obviously a very interesting one and still very obscure. But after the first 100 or so pages of this book, I had to stop for a while. It was so utterly boring! What was also a problem for me were all the Italian names which confused me a lot. I couldn't remember who was who and if I ha read this name before or not. After some time I picked it up again and was able to read through it that time. But I guess that it is enough to read the last 50 (plus minus) pages about t ...more
Lloyd Dean
A must read for any fanatic of a mafia film. This books gives a detailed outline on the history of Cosa Nostra and provides wonderful anecdotes against evidence. It is unfair to judge this in its lack of detail as the Dickie does not claim to give this. I round recommend this to any one with an interest in mafia films and/or activities.
The author of Cosa Nostra: A History of the Sicilian Mafia, John Dickie, is a senior lecturer in Italian studies at University College, London, and brings his considerable research skills and academic expertise to bear in his history of the criminal organisation. He traces the roots of the secret society back to 1860 and the protection rackets that sprang up in Palermo’s lemon groves and the thriving industry which began around it. Dickie never baulks at depicting the Mafia’s grisly deeds and qu ...more
One of my all time favorite books EVER. I've read it again and again. Reads like fiction. history of the Italian mafia from the beginning - the very beginning clear back to the lemon groves in the 1800s. Pick this book up yesterday.
Currently the best historical overview of the most popular Mafia organization. Starting from it's turbulent origins in mid - 19th Century Sicily to it's current power, the author depicts the highs and lows of Cosa Nostra's blood-soaked career - on how a loose group of peasants encroached into the highest reaches of Italian politics and society and attained near-indomitable power, and how it's influence extended to the United States with the wave of immigration that transpired in the country duri ...more
Carl Russo
John Dickie deserves every accolade he has received for this masterly history of the Sicilian Mafia. A wealth of research materials informed this work and the story is complicated, but Dickie's narrative flows smoothly.

It's a book fat enough to contain a thorough account of Cosa Nostra's rural origins in the 19th century, a period of violent social and political upheaval, and the group's epic rise to dominate politics and the drug trade.

The book's numerous editions and foreign translations are t
An immense read. Extraordinarily readable, captivating, incredibly interesting and at times moving (the chapter beginning with the words of Rosaria Schifani at the funerals after the Capaci bombing had me in tears now as they did back then - then as an Italian twenty-something in complete shock at those dreadful events. This really should be a compulsory read for everybody in Italy to get a picture and a much better understanding of where it all began all those years ago with the collusion betwe ...more
Daniel Pitcher
This is without a doubt a very detailed account & researched book about the Mafia, but I had to give up about three quarters of the way through. It's difficult to pinpoint exactly why I found it such a slog, but it might have been the sheer, overwhelming amount of detail. There were so many names (Italian, obviously) that it was difficult to remember who was who & who had done what.
The opening chapters describing the beginnings of Cosa Nostra were very interesting, but for me it soon bec
What a difficult book.
I have such an ambivalent feeling about this one. I find the history, rise and fall and rise of the Italian mafia very interesting. Very. And the book is not bad. But it is incredibly hard to follow. All the names and the geography is very confusing to me. I should have started drawing a map with all the people in it. I am not sure it is the authors fault, if there even is a way of telling this story with less confusion/complexity. I am not sure. You would probably have to
This book gave a remarkable insight into the brutal machinery of the Sicilian Cosa Nostra. Having read numerous books on the US Mafia, I found this book informative and thought provoking. It dispels many of the romantic notions many hold of the Sicilian Mafia and even Sicily itself.

The brutality of the mafia is well depicted and at times shocking, harrowing and disturbing. Equally disturbing is the depth to which mafioso have penetrated the political and commercial machinery of Italy and, to an
Alex Roe
If you want to understand Italy's mafia phenomenon and the effect it still has on Italy today, this is a book well worth reading.
A fantastic read - informative and exciting narrative history.
La Stamberga dei Lettori
Un libro ambizioso, che si propone di ripercorrere la storia della mafia dalle origini ai giorni nostri, ricostruendone le motivazioni, le spinte motrici, i complessi meccanismi relazionali che la governano e che ne segnano al contempo l'evoluzione. Un' opera apprezzabile perché non si ferma ad una mera cronologia di eventi ma si spinge oltre indagandone le cause materiali e psicologiche e le narra in modo coinvolgente e accattivante...
Being a somewhat (un)organised kind of guy, I have always had a passing interest in reading about organised crime.

I can't say reading it has improved my organisation but this was a fascinating insight into the history of the mafia and was well written throughout. Reading it, I could not believe the level of duplicity by the Italian political structure. No wonder it has proven to be so difficult to eradicate.

If you are interested in the history of the mafia at all then I would mark this one up as
Katie D'Angelo
Informative book that takes a fairly unbiased look at the history of the mafia. In order to cover the history this book breaks it down into short stories about specific times and events and tries to place them in a context to tie the whole book together but for me it just became confusing and a little tiring. The book did not allow for a lot of character analysis so I always felt disconnected. I thought the book was a very interesting read but overall I thought I would like this more than I did. ...more

An amazing history of the Cosa Nostra ("Our Thing") spanning its full one hundred and fifty year history, which began in Sicily. One interesting fact presented is that the then (at the time of it was published) Boss of Bosses Bernardo Provenzano - last picture of him taken back in the 1950s - had been more elusive than Osama bin Laden. However, as we now know, Bernardo (or "Uncle Bernie" as he was called) was recently captured in the town/village of Corleone, Sicily in 2006.
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