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Excellent Cadavers: The Mafia and the Death of the First Italian Republic

4.22  ·  Rating Details ·  224 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
In 1992 Italy was convulsed by two brazen Mafia assassinations of high-ranking officials. The latest "excellent cadavers" were Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, the Sicilian magistrates who had been the Cosa Nostra's most implacable enemies. Yet in the aftermath of the murders, hundreds of "men of honor" were arrested and the government that ad protected them for near ...more
Paperback, 480 pages
Published August 6th 1996 by Vintage (first published 1995)
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Dec 20, 2015 Alex rated it really liked it
I really liked reading this book, it was a lot of fun to follow all of the drama etc. But more than that it did an interesting job describing the mafia as a social formation that exhibited crises of reproduction, the resolution of which being contingent on the social environment. Basically it describes, from the perspective of the local law enforcement, the rise of a faction that was about to rise to power by stepping up the level of violence that it exhibited, but in a way that drew attention t ...more
Jan 05, 2015 Joseph rated it it was amazing
Alexander Stille's masterfully written and researched story of brave and innovative Italian anti-mafia officials in the police, judiciary and for a brief period, the ministerial offices. The principle figures are the investigating magistrates Giovanni Falcone, and Paolo Borsellino. Falcone had the media spotlight and was the driving force in the Palermo anti-mafia group of magistrates.

After the initial success of the 'maxi-trial' where 500 mafiosi where tried at once, Stille describes the syste
G.d. Brennan
Aug 11, 2012 G.d. Brennan rated it it was amazing
"Excellent Cadavers" is probably the best mob story you've never heard.

Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, two heroic Italian prosecutors, mounted an extraordinary legal campaign against the Sicilian mafia during the 1980s. They ultimately paid for their efforts with their lives. But their untimely murders shook Italy so hard they toppled its government. Theirs is a compelling story, full of unforgettable characters, and all of it is tragic and true. And chances are high that you don't know m
Brendan Monroe
For an in depth look at La Cosa Nostra and the government corruption that still rots away at Italy's soul, Alexander Stille's excellent 1995 opus is a must read! The term "Excellent Cadavers" refers to the government officials who have been killed in the fight against the mafia rather than rival mafiosi or private citizens who have wound up dead. As the title suggests, "Excellent Cadavers" reads at times like a thriller, at others like a hard-boiled detective novel, and at yet others like an inv ...more
May 06, 2013 Dangermousie rated it it was amazing
This is a non-fiction account about the two Sicilian anti-mafia prosecutors, Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, who revolutionized the fight against the mafia, who blew the lid off mafia prevalence and off the political connections of the mafia, and who were assassinated by the mob in the early 1990s.

I still feel like shaking when I think about it. This book has been haunting me: on one hand I am in awe of Falcone and Borsellino (and other brave prosecutors and policemen), who pursued this
Codered Summer
Dec 10, 2011 Codered Summer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Screw "The Godfather", read this instead
Jun 05, 2017 Carolynn rated it really liked it
The book was meticulous, although sometimes at the cost of the narrative. It was sad, but the story was ultimately about the courage and resiliency of two amazing Sicilians who gave their lives to make it a better place.
Dec 23, 2014 angela rated it it was ok
Shelves: did-not-finish
Alas, such a bummer, but I couldn't finish this.

I really enjoyed Stille's later book, about Berlusconi, The Sack of Rome. This book likewise featured a super-important figure of post-war Italian political history: Giovanni Falcone. It seemed like a sure-bet.

I'm always on the look-out for good English-language books about Italy, since there aren't many and lots of crazy shit has gone down and continues to go down in il bel paese (cue music). Alas, then. I just couldn't get into this book, even th
Aug 16, 2008 Mike rated it it was amazing
This book is a fascinating and tragic look at the fight against the Mafia in Sicily. It follows the story of two prosecutors, Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, who valiantly pursued organized crime and were both assassinated for there efforts. (This is not a spoiler but is revealed in the beginning) Stille also traces the investigations that lead to the uncovering of the connections between La Cosa Nostra and many high level government officals. In 1992-1994 one third of the Italian parliam ...more
Amar Pai
Oct 13, 2011 Amar Pai rated it really liked it
Falcone is a hero. In this book all the heroes are martyrs. Cosa Nostra, Camorra, 'Ndrangheta, there's nothing romantic about any of them. They are a cancer, contemptible. I felt like I was suffocating just reading this book. Living in Italy, it must be hard to take. I'd be so angry. Not just at the Mafia-- sharks do what they do-- but at the politicians, judges and businessmen who collude with them, perpetuating the sickness. After Falcone died it seemed like things had changed-- but then the r ...more
May 16, 2009 Rossbrew rated it it was amazing
Very sobering but worthwhile book if your interested in the mafia- a little dense as it gets into the political arena but the author does an amazing job shaping all the various and voluminous shards of information into a dramatic and coherent form (unlike this review...ha...).
I've already put in a request to my library for other mafia books such as the more recent Gomorrah and the older Valachi Papers...can't wait to read them...also, am looking forward to seeing the doc Excellent Cadavers...aga
Mar 28, 2008 Walt rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: organized-crime
I thought this was a very dull book. However, it was meticulously researched and presented - hence the dullness. Few books on organized crime are written so professionally. Most bloggers can readily point out errors. Stille has very few detractors and hardly anyone criticizes the book and for good reason.

The book focuses largely on criminals in history and the Corleonese killings of high-profile politicos - hence the title. There is some discussion of the bonds between mafiosi in Italy and the U
Apr 24, 2008 Giuliana rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviews
This is the best book about the Sicilian Mafia ever written. It focuses mostly on the lives and deaths of anti-Mafia judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino.
Actually, there is probably only one book that is better than this one, Giovanni Falcone's "Cose di Cosa Nostra", not available in English.
Mark Masterson
Mar 21, 2015 Mark Masterson rated it liked it
A well researched history that clearly demonstrates you don't need to read fiction find interesting subject.

Unfortunately the writing lacks character and some of the subject transitions can be very hard to follow. Stille obviously has an intimate knowledge of the subject matter which would be necessary for easy reading of this book.
Dec 04, 2007 S. rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, 5-stars
This is truly a sad and outrageous story, very very well written. It's gripping and intelligent "true crime." Recommended to anyone with an interest in Italy and/or the mafia. Or just plain old justice.
Pete Pescatore
Jul 23, 2009 Pete Pescatore rated it liked it
Very well written, dispassionate history. The book came out in 1995, deserves an update, but can still serve as an excellent backgrounder for people interested in the story of Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, two anti-mafia judges killed within weeks of each other in the early 90s.
Tanya Lolonis
Jan 06, 2013 Tanya Lolonis rated it it was amazing
Stille shows the brutality and tenacity of the mafia in sicilia by documenting the work of the two prosecutors trying to unravel the mafia, who paid with their lives. does not make you optimistic. excellent book for anyone interested in current Italian events.
Nicky Thai
Oct 14, 2012 Nicky Thai rated it it was amazing
An excellent example to demonstrate the theories stated in The Tipping point by Gladwell(?). After a century of good preparation, everything suddenly mixed perfectly together at the right time for a revolutionary moment. Nice inspirational book at the same time.
Kelly Hicks
Jan 24, 2008 Kelly Hicks is currently reading it
Really fascinating account of Italian mafiosi, with a focus on the Sicilian mafia. Prose is a compelling mix of history, journalistic reporting, personal accounts (via interviews and letters), and architectural history. I hurry home every night to read another chapter.
Feb 01, 2009 Charlie rated it it was amazing
This is one of my favourite books. Fantastic narative story, rich with detail. The ending left me almost in tears. Great story about brave people making a stand against violence and crime and paying the ultimate price.
May 14, 2012 Kimberlee rated it it was amazing
wish there were more stars to check for my favorite book ever. thanks, Mark R, for recommending this 10+ yrs ago.
May 18, 2011 Sara rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It was assigned for a class I took on Organized crime
Nov 05, 2009 Shetlerjo rated it really liked it
Great history of the "fall" of the Mafia in Italy.
Sep 13, 2010 Paola rated it it was amazing
clear chronicle of sicilian mafia. a must read for anyone who wants to understand what mafia is.
I have sort of a thing for researching Falcone, the Sicilian Mafia, and similar. This book fits the bill, then.
Gripping read.
Anne Billson
Jun 12, 2012 Anne Billson rated it it was amazing
Two good, brave, heroic men, and how they died. Tells you more than you want to know about Italy, and Sicily in particular. Devastating.
Bob Conklin
Dec 11, 2008 Bob Conklin rated it it was amazing
The fascinating, compelling story of Giovanni Falcone's investigation of the Sicilian Mafia. One of the great crime stories ever written, and all true.
Glenn Botto
Glenn Botto rated it really liked it
Nov 24, 2013
Matt rated it liked it
Nov 12, 2014
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