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Gomorrah

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  14,040 ratings  ·  965 reviews
A groundbreaking major bestseller in Italy, Gomorrah is Roberto Saviano's 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 ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published October 30th 2007 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published April 2006)
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Michael Finocchiaro
Roberto Saviano must have some massive cojones. To bring out this book with exposes the Camorra - long hidden in the shadows of the crumbling high-rises of the poor neighbourhoods north of Naples - and their hydra-like influence on the Italian (and global) economy. Saviano grew up here and is able to talk to the dealers, the corner boys, the counterfeiters, the hitmen, etc and give us a closeup, unfiltered view of the heart of this organisation. This candid book earned him the glory of an extrao ...more
Warwick
Apr 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There's an extraordinary scene near the start of Gomorrah that I don't think I'll be able to forget. Roberto Saviano, investigating the numerous clothing sweatshops in the countryside around Naples, happens to be with one of the master tailors when he turns on the television in his run-down shack one evening. It's Oscars night, and Angelina Jolie is on the red carpet – wearing one of his handmade outfits.



The man breaks down in tears. He had no idea – they just told him that one was ‘being sent t
...more
La Petite Américaine
Jul 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Leghisti / People who know Italy
**Update** Saw Roberto Saviano on TV last night. He was talking. Talking. And talking. And talking. And talking. And talking. For a frickin hour and a half without stopping except when he was interrupted by applause. Great writer, but his nonstop jabber has me ready to whack a star off this book.**

Gomorrah is a young journalist's account of just what the power of the mafia has done to southern Italy, particularly (but not solely) the Camorra in the Campania region. While he does discuss briefly
...more
Steven Godin
Aug 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: italy, non-fiction
I watched the movie long before reading this, and probably preferred it to the book. Gomorrah has no doubt enraged the gangsters, and following a series of highly credible death threats, since autumn 2006 Saviano has been given an armed escort at public expense. Public expense? I'm sure there quite a few Italian citizens who don't agree with this. Right from the off Roberto Saviano's Gomorrah is enough to communicate the raw force of his writing and a sense of why the book has been an astonishin ...more
Francesca Lenti
Dec 03, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
This book should be taught in schools.
The media tend to forget about the camorra in Campania.
They only talk about it when there's more than 2 deads a day...
this book is a great tragical testimony of somebody who does not want to forget and wants to shout to everybody what the truth really is.
Recommended to anyone who doesn't want to stop to the surface and wants to go deep into the scum of reality.
Nikki
Feb 28, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book seems to have suffered a loss in translation, and there were also some formatting problems with it that may have been a result of it being on my Kindle, and not in paper form. Also, the author obviously wrote for the Italian reader. Several times, he made long lists of Camorristas or of cities in Italy, and I suspect that these may have meant something to someone who lives in Italy and who has more knowledge of the state of organized crime in the country than I do, but for me, it was j ...more
Jonfaith
The most concrete emblem of every economic cycle is the dump.

Earlier this summer I enjoyed a podcast by one of the members of Wu Ming. The author spoke about responsibility and the New Italian Epic. Gommorah was the one example of the latter which was discussed at length. It was noted that the work suffered from a horrible translation into English. Perhaps the last qualification should give it a pass, as I found the work to be uneven. Nominally this is an exploration of criminal culture in the N
...more
Pat
Aug 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ethics, documentary
Since he has pulished his book, Saviano is a hunted man. Does he glorify organised crime after all? Or where did my fascination come from when I read him? The book portrays the Camorra as the incarnation of capitalism in its purest form, whoever stands in the way of business will be eliminated with the appropriate means. Appropriate? How much are moral standards essential for good business? The question is neglected and yet imminent on each page. Who is good? Who is evil. Names over names are qu ...more
Arun Divakar
Sep 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
Approximately 18 years ago and in a second hand bookshop at Coimbatore, I first chanced across Mario Puzo’s The Godfather. All that I knew about the book then was that it had something to do with the criminal underworld and its people. When I started reading it the first time, it all felt like one big let-down for me since there was not enough action in the first few chapters and pages and there were long, long deviations into stories of unimportant characters. I gave up ! A couple of years late ...more
Sean Owen
Jul 24, 2015 rated it it was ok
In "Gomorrah" Roberto Saviano sets out to expose the workings of the modern Italian criminal underworld. Visions of the mob as depicted in hollywood movies are quickly dispelled. The current mob is a hyper-capitilalist beast with it's hands in the world of drugs, politics, garbage and fashion. Saviano got great access, but unfortunately that isn't sufficient for a book to be a success. The writing is terrible and inconsistent. There are paragraphs of hyperbole attempting to be literary followed ...more
Christine
In America, we seem to have a love affair with the mob. Look at the Godfather or Scarface just to name two. Then there's Goodfellas and who can forget The Sopranos. (Actually, I could. I never liked it). Maybe the lover affair is because of the desire to get away with things.

The real mob is one scary thing, but we know that. Roberto Savino doesn't just tell us that; he also tells us how the mob ruins society.

Gomorrah is most likely not the best translated book, yet there is something compelling
...more
Aloke
Jan 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Got about halfway through until I was crushed under the weight of detail.
Amar Pai
Jun 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
I saw the movie first. Now that I've read the book, I'm amazed at how faithful the movie is to the book. The film is an almost chapter-by-chapter recreation of the original. One of the most faithful adaptations I've ever seen.

But, something's always lost in translation. What gets lost in the movie is the book's poetry, and also its anger.

Saviano is a brave man for writing this. I'm surprised he's not dead yet.

Gomorra film author to leave Italy after mob death threats


The author of the book
...more
F.R.
Jun 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Anyone expecting a kind of cool, macho life of gangsters, with charismatic real-life characters and bloodily amusing anecdotes is in for a shock. This is a raw, vicious and angry book, a true expose of how the Camorra dominates life around Southern Italy and how from there it extends its tentacles worldwide.

Although it gives an overview of the various gangs and the characters involved, the book goes much further and breaks down the sociological and economic causes of and reactions to all that ha
...more
Robin
Aug 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Roberto Saviano was still in his 20s when he wrote this courageous exposé of the Neapolitan camorra. That it is such a stunning read is no doubt down to the face that he comes from the region and feels passionately about how criminality pollutes – sometimes literally – life in the region.

The book is vivid in recounting events such as the horrific and dismaying Secondigliano War, the disastrous dumping of toxic trash illegally, the almost suicidal mentality that wants to kill every rival (and the
...more
Roy
Oct 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone interested in economics or organized crime
I read this book while travelling through Campania. We had lovely weather, stayed in some of the most beautiful coastal town in Europe and had a very breezy and relaxing week, but every moment I expected to turn the corner and find the seedy underside of southern Italy – some youth selling drugs, or hand bags, or Kalashnicovs – but never found it.

Well, there was a very lively trade of cheap clothes wherever we went …

For any fan of the Wire, you won’t be surprised by how organized crime can embra
...more
Sarah
Apr 05, 2009 rated it did not like it
I almost gave up on this book in chapter 2. I should have. I'm not certain what the problem was, but I've chalked it up to poor translation (both words and culturally). Most of the time I had no idea what the author was talking about. Maybe Italians grow up knowing who the Mondragones are, but I would have benefited from some background info.

Also, having actually completed the book, I still have no idea how the author got all of his information. Was he inside? Did he have friends inside? Was he
...more
Louise
May 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: italy, crime
This is a worrisome portrait of the extra-legal underworld centered in and around Naples. It is run by "clans" that are much larger, more ruthless, more sophisticated and more international than the American style Mafia family. These clans compete with each other for market share in drugs, hazardous waste, high fashion, arms and anything else they choose.

The prose is absolutely wonderful. Well chosen words provide descriptions of people, life and feelings in a way you usually don't find in inves
...more
Katherine Liddy
Oct 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
When I started reading Gomorrah it gave me nightmares so I had to put it down for a few days. Then I picked it up again and stayed up all night to finish it.

It's not an ordinary True Crime book, the kind that presents the titillating foreign antics of Mafiosi with a cheery Goodfellas soundtrack. This is a relentless indictment, an obsessively reworked denunciation, a cold and clear-eyed assassination attempt. Saviano--who was still very young when he wrote this--describes the systems, economy a
...more
Marjorie
Jun 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Where to start? A MUST READ book. It was a huge slap in the face and made "The Godfather" look like a care-bear mafia. Roberto Saviano makes us dive into the Italian mafia, the Camorra, an almighty organisation ruling the southern regions of Italy.
We are presented with his view, yes, but what remains are the facts, the cold-blooded facts: the terror that the Camora uses over Naples and its surroundings. The population live under their rule, the politicians are nothing but highly corrupted puppet
...more
Jack
Feb 10, 2010 rated it it was ok
Disappointing considering all the buzz that it got - probably 2.5 stars - but that might be partially an issue of translation; I can't really qualify this, but it often feels like the translator was too literal in transplanting every word into english, so that some of the style and descriptions that might have flowed in Italian doesn't quite pop here.

Also, I often more curious as to how the Camorra actually performed the operations he talked about. It's very important if they completely control
...more
Brahm
Dec 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Recommended to Brahm by: Jeff Whistler
3.5 stars.

Like: Great writing and translation, very poetic, filled with vivid images and metaphors. A fascinating look into how criminal enterprises operate in Italy and how crazy huge, broad, and deep they are. Fashion, drugs, waste management, construction... so interesting, and sad. There are some things that make you lose faith in humanity, like testing cuts of cocaine and heroin on addicts to ensure they are not fatal before releasing to market, or contracts for illicit disposal of toxic w
...more
Connor Johnson
Mar 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Very interesting and eye-opening book on something I had no knowledge of. I found the sections on the fashion industry and waste disposal to be very intriguing. Another good section was the "I know and I can prove it" excerpt, which felt weighty and foreboding. The book was sometimes hard to follow along with names of people and places, though.

I read an article featuring the author from the Guardian published in 2015. He described all the ways in which writing this book has changed his life, and
...more
Luisa
Aug 06, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
will not eat any produce grown in italian soil from now on!
Rob Stainton
Jul 09, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: gave-up
Oh my Gawd but this is badly, badly overwritten. The author is so in love with his own words that I couldn't continue on with the story (which promised to be very interesting). Pages of tortured and conflicting metaphors.
Harry Rutherford
May 26, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: europe, non-fiction
This is a journalistic account of organised crime in Naples; the title is a pun on Camorra, the name of the Neapolitan mafia. It’s an eye-opening, depressing book. The prose is occasionally a little purple for my taste, which I suspect is partly the translation. And I feel a bit petty criticising the prose style since Saviano risked his life to write it; he now lives under 24 hour police protection. I can only hope his bravery does some good, although the book makes the problem seem intractable. ...more
Greg
When Gomorrah was firt published, it was risky investigative journalism at its finest; Saviano revealed to Italians and to the wider world the nature and extent of the Comorra's domination of Naples, Campania and beyond.

Even the best journalism loses its immediacy over time, but after 10 years and from half a world away, Gomorrah is still a riveting read. Saviano recounts a catalogue of vicious crimes and ongoing feuds that turned Campania into a bloodbath, pretty much the murder capital of the
...more
Carl
Nov 24, 2007 rated it liked it
I was hoping for a more expository work of non-fiction on this topic but instead it was a rambling, although at times very interesting, book about the Neapolitan mafia. There were plenty of memorable anecdotes but there were an equal number of sections where all these details are thrown at you at once and it's hard not to feel lost. If the book focused on one or two mob families these details would have added up to something more tangible but no sooner do you start to have an idea what a given c ...more
Chickens McShitterson
Aug 18, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
I had such high hopes for this, but it was a complete and absolute rambling mess of inanity. There's nearly no narrative structure, just a hodgepodge of unsubstantiated facts and names thrown about with loosely conjoined descriptions of shootings. The sheer number of names bandied about is maddening to follow- even more perplexing is that there is a map of Naples in the beginning of the book, but absolutely no diagrams of how the families and clans are related and which people were associated wi ...more
Timothy McCluskey
May 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: true-stories
This is a very difficult book to read, not because of style but because there are no heroes. Everyone is trapped into the corruption and no one escapes its reach. It has becomes a way of life which infects even the youth. There is one chilling scene in which a young boy lures the mother of a rival gang out from here house - a woman who has befriended him - and she is assassinated. In the movie, he calmly walks away. The glamour of the Godfather, etc. is not part of this story.
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Roberto Saviano is an Italian writer and journalist.

In his writings, articles and books he employs prose and news-reporting style to narrate the story of the Camorra (a powerful Neapolitan mafia-like organization), exposing its territory and business connections.

Since 2006, following the publication of his bestselling book Gomorrah (Gomorra in Italian), where he describes the clandestine particula
...more

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Whether it’s magic schools, dystopias, paranormal love stories, or contemporary explorations of important real-life issues, young adult books a...
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“Ad aver dato fastidio alle organizzazioni criminali è il mio lettore, non sono io. Il mio lettore è ciò che loro non vogliono, il fatto che in questo momento ne stiamo parlando, che ne hanno parlato tutti i giornali, che continuano ad uscire libri, che continuano a nascere documentari, è tutto questo che loro non vogliono, è l'attenzione su di loro, sui loro nomi, soprattutto sui loro affari.” 10 likes
“Everyone I know is either dead or in jail. I want to become a boss. I want to have supermarkets, stores,
factories, I want to have women. I want three cars, I want respect when I go into a store, I want to have
warehouses all over the world. And then I want to die. I want to die like a man, like someone who truly
commands. I want to be killed.”
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