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McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld
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McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  2,504 Ratings  ·  239 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)
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May 16, 2008 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
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 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 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
Feb 02, 2018 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Čím je Savianova Gomora pro moderní italskou camorru, tak tím Glennyho McMafie není pro mafie vzešlé z Východního bloku. A přitom by mohla, protože autor na to má znalosti i talent. Je to však, bohužel, tak strašně letem světem (od východní Evropy přes Afriku, Indii či Japonsko až po Jižní Ameriku) a na malém prostoru, že se nedostává prostoru na nic více než pár (někdy doslova) nejzajímavějších příkladů vlivů a důsledků globalizace organizovaného zločinu po rozpadu Sovětského svazu. Potěší, že ...more

Description: 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. Current estimates suggest that illegal trade accounts for nearly one-fi
Jan 02, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laura by: Bettie☯
Alex Godman has spent his life trying to avoid the shadow of his family's criminal past, but when tragedy strikes, he is drawn into the world of international crime.

Episode 1 of 8
After a tragic event, Russian exile Alex Godman is drawn into the murky world of global crime as he tries to protect his family from their dark past.

Episode 2 of 8
Semiyon convinces Alex into a venture designed to harm Vadim's business in Prague. Meanwhile, a young girl is taken on a very different journey.

Episode 3 of 8
May 21, 2008 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.

Aug 14, 2011 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
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
Jul 16, 2008 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
Jun 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: war-theory
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 11, 2008 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
May 07, 2013 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 ...more
J Higgins
Nov 11, 2008 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 17, 2008 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
Krishna Dheeraj
Jul 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Mind Blowing! Must read!
It will change your perception of illicit trade.
Nov 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The world that we live in is complicated. Around us, there are so many global events that happen and what is fascinating is the trigger that leads to these events. Misha Glenny puts journalist's hat to somewhat effective use by his narration on how the organized crime has been globalized taking examples from the huge international range spanning from balkans, Russia to the American west and east, middle-east including the asian countries of China, India etc.

What caught my rapt attention were the
Kevin Valdes
Feb 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Think big picture!

The Good
The book is an intriguing, refreshingly different, and depressing view of the global economy. It succeeds at being chock-full of eye-opening revelations on the 'shadow economy's' impact on the licit global economy.

The Caution
I found myself struggling with the discovery that the book, so focused on the distrustful underbelly of society, relies heavily on the reader's trust of the author rather than documented data. That isn't to say the author is lying or that the econo
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
A work of investigative journalism on global organized crime. Unfortunately, the work suffers from several defects. First, the author has a half-stated thesis that globalization has led to the rise of these global crime syndicates. He provides no evidence for these assertions (and there is not a single reference or footnote to any research on this point anywhere in the work). However, he acknowledges that there has always been organized crime.

Second, like so many "investigative" journalists, the
Dec 31, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Warning: If you are expecting a crime/thriller (as I was) then you might be sadly disappointed! This is a factual / reference book regarding organised crime in different parts of the world and the impact that it has on modern society. Very heavy going in places and confusing as it is a different country per chapter and therefore doesn’t (in my opinion) go into enough detail to make sense to someone with no prior knowledge. Will be interested to see how it translates into the new BBC drama that s ...more
Jan 16, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A disappointing read. This book was re-issued to coincide with the TV series, but unfortunately the book is nearly ten years old and feels very dated now. It is ok as a collection of thoughts and some juicy anecdotes on various crime syndicates around the world, but it doesn't offer any great new insight.
Basically a large overview of non-Western organized crime. He takes you from Russia to the Balkans to India, to South America and ends up in China and Japan. He doesn’t go into great detail in any of the areas it’s a very broad overview of Organized crime in the world.
Oct 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
There's no way to properly describe this, because the length and breath of the topics it touches are staggering. It truly breaks down the underworld and how it coexists often times enabled by the normal world.
Jan 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Now this is on BBC TV it was the was a interesting read. Although my edition was a bit out of date.

I loved it.
Jackie Kropp
Feb 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
Brilliant but boring, DNF.
Bryan Alexander
Nov 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime, geopolitics
A fascinating survey of recent international crime. Misha Glenny visits a variety of nations, from Japan to Canada, Serbia to Nigeria, Israel to China, exploring how new criminal organizations have emerged and prospered. The end of the Cold War opened borders, and crime natually seized the many resulting opportunities. The Russian mafiya are but one example of ambitious, global crooks.

McMafia is very accessible, structured and styled as a travelogue. We ride along with Glenny as he visits warlor
Mar 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: current-events
This book will make you look differently at everything from caviar to your laptop computer screen. It will break your heart on most pages if you let it. Its tales are dark, cold, often tragic, and the vast majority of its protagonists first-class assholes. Want to be clear -- it's a fascinating read, but fascinating in the same way Powers' A Problem from Hell or Guillermoprieto's Heart That Bleeds are -- the reader is given intimate glimpses from different places around the world at how inhumane ...more
Jan 09, 2011 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
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“One may denounce corruption in the developing world and the developed world alike, but in the age when billionaires stalk a globe on which 50 percent of its people live on less than two dollars a day, can one really be surprised that customs officers, policemen, judges, politicians, and bureaucrats are often tempted?” 0 likes
“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
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