Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld” as Want to Read:
McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld

3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  2,166 Ratings  ·  221 Reviews
With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the deregulation of international financial markets in 1989, governments and entrepreneurs alike became intoxicated by forecasts of limitless expansion into newly open markets. No one would foresee that the greatest success story to arise from these events would be the globalization of organized crime. ...more
Hardcover, First Edition, 398 pages
Published April 8th 2008 by Alfred A. Knopf (first published January 1st 2008)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about McMafia, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about McMafia

The Devil in the White City by Erik LarsonFreakonomics by Steven D. LevittIn Cold Blood by Truman CapoteA Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill BrysonGuns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
Best Non-Fiction (non biography)
456th out of 3,952 books — 5,860 voters
1984 by George OrwellBeing and Time by Martin HeideggerThe Ecological Rift by John Bellamy FosterGuns, Germs, and Steel by Jared DiamondAgainst the Flow by Peter Abbs
Best Books To Frame Thinking
160th out of 619 books — 729 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jul 14, 2008 Edward rated it it was amazing
Things I learned from reading this book:
Illegal trade accounts for 20% of global GDP.
If you want a hit done right and cheaply, hire the Serbs.
The fall of communism is the single most important event accounting for the rise of global criminal syndicates.
There are a lot of brothels in Tel Aviv.
Bollywood and the Indian mafia go hand in hand.
Park and wash your money in Dubai.
Nigerian email scams are the real deal (they actually do originate in Nigeria).
A lot of pot comes from Vancouver BC.
People who
Sep 19, 2011 Whitaker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Misha Glenny is a journalist. That tells you what you need to know about the approach that he takes to the topic of globalised organised crime in this book. It's large reportorial, with minimal analysis and no overriding thesis. Whether this is good or bad depends on your point of view. The advantage of this approach is that it delivers a punchy narrative; the disadvantage is that the subject remains an unwieldy morass. ( (view spoiler) ...more
Tim Pendry
I was initially wary of this account of contemporary organised crime. Misha Glenny's 'Fall of Yugoslavia' had frustrated me as good narrative but weak analysis. I need not have been so concerned.

Yes, Glenny still does not quite 'get' that he is being fed a line sometimes by people who have an interest in extending their own power. And, yes, he still trots out liberal-imperial cliches in the short epilogue. However, the vast bulk of the book rises above the ‘given’ ideology.

It provides an excel
Dec 17, 2008 Matthew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essaysjournalism
I'm generally sceptical of books that purport to change one's view of the world, but when one of them does come along, its a welcome surprise. McMafia ranks one of the two best books I've read so far this year -- the other being Alan Weisman's The World Without Us -- in the very personal terms of having expanded my understanding of how the world works and the consequences of actions and events.

Glenny was the Guardian's and BBC's Central Europe correspondent. Realising how intertwined their ecno
Sep 18, 2008 Ericka rated it it was amazing
In my International Studies senior seminar we had to pick a book that dealt with globalization/globalism and present a project on it. Naturally, most people thought to pick the obvious such as The World is Flat. After a quick Amazon search this book popped up and I figured it had to be good because Glenny has always done an excellent job of writing about the Balkans (my love). He did not let me down!

McMafia reviews different aspects of organized crime and how it is spreading. He begins with the
Will James
A very accessible, yet at times needlessly journalistic, look at organised crime since the dawn of globalisation in the 1980s and 1990s. From an IR perspective, it really drives home how important the role this 'shadow economy' plays in global finance and economics, and the pernicious and overwhelming influence organised crime plays in the international economy. Glenny does a great job of reminding the reader that organised crime is not simply a criminal justice issue, but a phenomenon that shou ...more
Aug 14, 2011 Kotinka rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
McMafia is certainly an apt title for this book; written in an easy-to-consume style, this book munches it's way through global organised crime networks at such a high pace you'll be suffering from indigestion before you've reached the fiftieth page.

Glenny does succeed, as I had hoped before opening the book, in illuminating some of the fascinating, charasmatic and plain scary people behind the world's extraordinary shadow economy. And yet, frustratingly, the book never quite manages to settle
Jul 16, 2008 Jamie rated it liked it
Shelves: just-for-fun, adult
This book grabbed me from the beginning due to my obsession with all things Eastern European. I learned of a "country" that doesn't really exist (Transnistria, a breakaway of Moldova) Lots about how criminals that you think don't like each other actually use those "hatreds" as excuses to work together (Serbs and Croats and Bosnians, anyone?)

Also, how war on drugs actually keeps organized crime flowing. If it were legal, nearly 60% of organized crime's income would be taken away. Yet another reas
John Carter McKnight
An absolutely fascinating book, which I hadn't expected from the really lurid cover of the UK Kindle edition. This is a meticulously researched account of global organized crime, built from fieldwork around the world over three years. It's a scathing indictment of the management of deregulation and globalization in the 1990s, which Glenny argues convincingly resulted in the generation of fantastic wealth for international criminal networks which are often difficult to separate from the governmen ...more
Sep 01, 2009 Emily added it
saw an interview with the author on Charlie Rose - looks facinating!

And I just watched American Gangster over the weekend!


Well this one has finally arrived from the library and I'm not sure I'm going to make it through before it has to go back. Its interesting reading but very dense and a bit depressing - an unrelenting parade of human greed, cruelty and avarice.

However, it is really interesting in its connections to international politics. Its also f
Natalie Keating
Jan 09, 2016 Natalie Keating rated it really liked it
This book is EXCELLENT if you're interested in the nasty, nitty-gritty aspects of the criminal underworld –an underworld, that, shockingly enough, affects us regular people more than you realize. Misha Glenny traces the rise of global crime, which is connected with globalization, in diverse places such as Russia and other post-Soviet countries, the Balkans, Colombia, Brazil, Japan, China, and Nigeria, to name a few. He focuses on all aspects of crime: drug trafficking, human trafficking, money l ...more
Jun 02, 2010 Nicholas rated it really liked it
Shelves: economics, war-theory
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
J Higgins
Jun 25, 2012 J Higgins rated it really liked it
Coupled with the collapse of the USSR, criminal enterprise has become a global issue. Criminal enterprise is what propped up the USSR at the tale end of communism. When the iron curtain fell, many entrepreneurial types people who had made tons of cash by using communism to buy raw materials cheaply and then selling them at market price (sometimes at a 500-1000% markup) expanding their enterprises around the globe. And that's just the first two chapters.

The book touches on many different types o
Garrett Burnett
Nov 26, 2008 Garrett Burnett rated it it was amazing
Shelves: economics
I don't know how he got access to all these thugs and mobsters, but Misha Glenny bravely gathered fascinating facts and stories on the world of organized crime and lived to write about it. McMafia looks primarily at the economics driving the black market. Glenny discusses protection rackets in Eastern Europe, prostitution and money laundering in Dubai, and marijuana trafficking in British Columbia. Glenny starts his examination with the power vacuum left by the collapse of the Soviet Union (a vo ...more
Kathleen Hulser
Dec 06, 2015 Kathleen Hulser rated it really liked it
Misha Glenny reported the fallout from the crumbling Soviet empire across the former USSR and on to the Balkan wars. This book expands on his ideas about how failing states, civil wars and globalization have combined to change organized crime into an enormous underground economy that is entreprenurail enough to fit the most stringent standards of the Chicago School economists. Trafficking humans, selling drugs, peddling arms, laundering money, these enterprises located in any convenient state to ...more
Feb 12, 2015 Ietrio rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nobody
Shelves: junk
An excellent example of the fusion between private propaganda and plain bad journalism. Where infomercials end starts the realm of fearmongers.

A fool or a tool, Misha does end up with a convincing plot for people too used to channel surfing. They can't possibly make out that 1+2 can make 3 and not only 1+2 equals 2+1. Given by the resume items quoted in the book Misha is most probably just a tool, but I can't be sure as I don't know him and have no wish to meet somebody like him in the future.

May 28, 2008 Brian rated it it was ok
Kind of depressing look at the rise of the organized crime across the planet. Turns out "free trade" and "globalization" were the best things to happen to the world's mafias since the fall of Communism.

Also, did you know that Americans are bad? Well, they are. Just accept it. This author seems to think that no one else on the planet has to take responsibility for anything except Americans.

Krishna Dheeraj
Jul 26, 2015 Krishna Dheeraj rated it it was amazing
Mind Blowing! Must read!
It will change your perception of illicit trade.
Sep 14, 2016 Wilder rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Glenny starts off strong examining the organized crime groups operating in the former Yugoslavia and the post-Soviet space. During this first section, it seems as if Glenny decided he really wanted to write a book about the "dark side of globalization." While this is an interesting concept, the following two thirds of the book transforms slowly until the final section is almost exclusively about this aspect of globalization. Glenny weaves some interesting stories together-- the sections detailin ...more
Ellis Amdur
Jan 16, 2015 Ellis Amdur rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
According to GQ, “To be regarded as one of the essential non-fiction works of our time. Filled with exotic locations, staggering facts, acts of incredible brutality and colorful, if deadly, characters.” The globalization of our world economy has led to the globalization of crime – if you are a consumer, you are likely, in one way or another, participating in criminal acts, at once or at most twice remove. The traffic ranges from drugs, guns and vulnerable women, to “protection” and cons – and mu ...more
* * * * - I more than liked the book, just short of full 5*-amazing.

Meticulous, fast-paced and absorbing. Misha Glenny gives us an eloquent glimpse of the criminal world which exists parallel to our own everyday greyness. This book has a wealth of information and is a true eye-opener.

Even if it were so that parts of this book were fabricated (I have no way of confirming the factual accurateness of M.G.), the world which is here lifted into the spotlight, is truly horrendous. It changes the vi
Paul Pessolano
Feb 09, 2011 Paul Pessolano rated it really liked it
This book is about the collapse of the Soviet Union and the rise of Globalization, and how these two factors brought about a criminal underworld that puts the Mafia to shame.

I don't want to discourage anyone from reading this book, but I must say in all honesty, it is a very difficult book to read. The content is excellent, however, the author provides WTMI (way too much information). This is very evident in the first quarter of the book and once you get past that it becomes a little easier to r
Earl Grey Tea
Dec 16, 2012 Earl Grey Tea rated it really liked it
Shelves: opinion, non-fiction
Despite the title being a bit of a turn off for me, this book did contain a lot of information about the world of organized crime. Seeing that my upbringing consisted of a life in a Midwestern suburb, I've never really been exposed directly to any these situations. Or at least, I don't think I have; I am not the most observant person.

Misha Glenny starts his book with one of the biggest events in modern history that lead to the rapid expansion of organized crime: the fall of the Soviet Union. Eac
Jan 14, 2011 Kai rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Un lottatore bulgaro con catene d’oro al collo taurino e occhiali da sole, dal passato remoto di agente dei servizi segreti, dal passato prossimo di imprenditore di successo e massone, e dal presente in una cassa da morto; un misterioso omicidio di una geofisica nella placida cittadina di Woking nel Surrey; una sequela di personaggi che si muovono tra India, Nigeria, Balcani, Stati Uniti, India, Giappone, Italia, Colombia, Canada e la “fantomatica” Transnistria cancellando la nitidezza dei confi ...more
James Perkins
Nov 26, 2011 James Perkins rated it really liked it
An impressive tour-de-force through the major organised crime syndicates around the world. The "Mc" of the title has nothing to do with McDonald's, as you may think; it's a wry comment on how organised crime is so pervasive in the world today, it's almost like the world's biggest fast food franchise, reaching into almost every country and affecting everybody's lives. An eye-opener for me was how even ordinary people like you and me are touched by the lives of gangsters - for example, a conductin ...more
May 14, 2009 Alan rated it it was amazing
This is an eye-opening and shocking look at the burgeoning business of international crime. Glenny is an expert travel guide to some of the murkiest and most sinister corners of the world and he fills his account with colorful episodes and anecdotes. Even more valuable, he does a masterful job of explaining the political background and errors that enabled these international criminals to flourish.
Glenny is strongest when discussing the Balkans (his area of expertise) and the former Soviet Union
Nov 29, 2011 Ben rated it it was amazing
Glenny makes a fascinating case for how a series of events after the fall of communism, led to global gangsterism. Great fodder here for characters, syndicates, types of crimes, law enforcement, investigative journalism, cover-ups, political maneuvering/manipulation, hits/assassinations, stings, etc. Read about how the state of Macedonia survived in large part due to their explicit involvement in cigarette smuggling. Rogue nations looking for military and weapons technology weren't the only ones ...more
Dec 02, 2010 Boris rated it really liked it

Ever wondered how the world really operates? How we, as consumers, support organised crime all over the world? How without organised crime some countries just simply wouldn't function?
This book has been very well researched. It brings to life the world of organised crime that we rarely hear about. The Croats and Serbs may have been at war with each other but their crime gangs were in cahoots and making fortunes.
The fall of Communism was the mother of all gifts for crime gangs in Bulgaria. And th
Nov 02, 2008 Alistair rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Peter Mandelson and George Osbourne
a silly title which i think refers to the global reach of criminal activity today ie Mcdonalds for people who wack each other , the book is a riveting trip through worldwide crime from gangster capitalism in Russia , cigarette smuggling in Montenegro ,VAT fraud in the EU , money laundering in Tel Aviv mostly for the jewish russian oligarchs, arms sales in exchange for diamonds in Africa , to the more familiar territory of cocaine production in Columbia and drug smuggling in Mexico .
a common feat
Dec 10, 2011 Paul rated it it was amazing
I can not overestimate the value of this book.

I'm not sure how I stumbled across Glenny. I later saw him on A journalist who is the son of journalists who reported on Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

Glenny knows the language. He knows the culture. He gives a detailed account of the rise of organised crime in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union. I could suddenly make so much better sense of events happening around me including within Cyprus [where I live] itself. [a m
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
The Aspiring Poly...: McMafia 9 12 Nov 01, 2011 07:01PM  
Global Debate Anti-Corruption in Brazil with Misha Glenny 1 10 Oct 12, 2011 12:22PM  
  • The Art Museum
  • Illicit: How Smugglers, Traffickers, and Copycats are Hijacking the Global Economy
  • Merchant of Death: Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible
  • On Power
  • The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier
  • 64 Things You Need to Know Now for Then
  • Civilizations: Culture, Ambition, and the Transformation of Nature
  • The Elephant, the Tiger, and the Cell Phone: Reflections on India, the Emerging 21st-Century Power
  • The Beach Beneath the Street: The Everyday Life and Glorious Times of the Situationist International
  • Reinventing Collapse: The Soviet Example and American Prospects
  • To Die in Mexico: Dispatches from Inside the Drug War
  • Comrades: A World History of Communism
  • The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia
  • Chemical Cowboys: The DEA's Secret Mission to Hunt Down a Notorious Ecstasy Kingpin
  • Brave New War: The Next Stage of Terrorism and the End of Globalization
  • The Great Depression & the New Deal: A Very Short Introduction
  • One Soldier's War
  • Whiteout: The CIA,Drugs and the Press

Share This Book

“A little of this caviar finds its way to the fish restaurants around Istanbul's Taksim Square, but the bulk is sent on to the United Arab Emirates to be enjoyed by wealthy Westerners and Arabs in the preposterous hotels that have set new standards in unnecessary opulence.” 0 likes
More quotes…