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

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  3,254 ratings  ·  313 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 2008)
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3.89  · 
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 ·  3,254 ratings  ·  313 reviews

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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
Mar 08, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Misha Glenny is journalist en historicus. Hij schreef al eerder goed ontvangen boeken over de val van het communisme en de diverse Balkanoorlogen. En nu is er dan McMaffia.
McMaffia leest als de spreekwoordelijke trein. Glenny heeft genoeg onderzoek gedaan om een bibliotheek vol thrillers te schrijven... maar hij ziet kans om in dit niet eens zo dikke boek (ruim 400 pagina's) de lezer mee te nemen naar oorden in heel Europa, maar óók 'de eigen achtertuin'. Internationale criminaliteit is niet van
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
Joshua Polk
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is a great exploration of the emergence of the modern criminal underworld that came about after the fall of the Soviet Union.
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

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
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
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
Jun 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: mobsters, russia
Though a bit short on analysis, and long on descriptive anecdotes, this book presents a thorough and sturdy survey of transnational crime as of c. 2009.

The problem is that the picture has changed dramatically since 2014, when transnational crime merged with political Putinism in Russia, and with the Russian-besotted euro-neofascists taking power throughout Eastern Europe — and elsewhere (the Putin/Russian Mob/Orbán/Duterte) model, and which has morphed yet again in 2016 as the neofascist/Mob/Pu
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.

Brandon Forsyth
Jul 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
MCMAFIA is almost too much of a good thing. This is a book that feels like 5 or 6 books, there's so much information and so many interesting people contained within. This is first-class reporting with a knowing wink, very much in a John le Carré or (perhaps more appropriately) Graham Greene style. There are sections that feel dated, but on the whole the book seems to have aged remarkably well, especially with topics like the negative effects of globalization and the criminality of the Russian st ...more
Cressida McLaughlin
Fascinating and terrifying in equal measure.
Sep 04, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tres y medio. Algunos capítulos más interesantes que otros pero muy bien documentado.
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: adult, just-for-fun
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
Peter Ellwood
I have to confess I didn't finish it. It does exactly what it says on the tin - examines the way in which crime and corruption have been globalised in exactly the same way as trade - but I guess I was looking for something else. In the end, it is little more than a series of loosely-connected/loosely-disconnected articles about how there are nasty people almost everywhere, an inventory of bad guys. Clearly it's great if you're looking to write a BBC thriller based on reality; but I found it tiri ...more
Sep 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Criminal conspiracy beyond belief. Great writing that tells how very unstable and how very dangerous it is to live in the world we live in. A bravura piece of globe-trotting reportage.
David Canford
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I bought this as I had noticed the fictional BBC TV series, though I haven’t seen that, wanting to read the book first. The book isn’t, in fact, a novel but factual. I was disappointed by that until I started to read it. The author knows his stuff and brings the reader a great, though sobering, expose of how organised crime plays such a large part in the world’s economy. For example, I had no idea just how powerful the Yakuza were in Japan. Ultimately it is all a terrible tragedy, especially for ...more
Jan 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing

i am so sorry if i can't swear on good reads, but honestly this has to be one of the books i would say everyone should read, the shadow economy which has gripped the world is absolutely terrifying and it needs to be combatted, it also happily shows how crap the war on drugs is (and that other solutions are needed), as well as trying his best to not only present the criminal organisations from his own pov (as a westerner in the white economy), but also from the pov of the peopl
Dmitry Nikolaev
Mar 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A horrible cover and a fantastic book.
Feb 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-rated
Walmart and Amazon can learn some lessons from Serbians, Nigerians, Chinese, Colombians, and Russians in running an international business.
Lance L
May 08, 2018 rated it liked it
What should have been an excellent long-form essay in Rolling Stone or The Atlantic is instead spread out across a bloated, scattershot and tremendously uneven book. The sections on the Balkans, Russia and Dubai are the heart of the story. Everything else feels like filler.
Jun 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: economics, 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
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The Aspiring Poly...: McMafia 9 14 Nov 01, 2011 07:01PM  
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“If a country supports prohibition, it is also guaranteeing that on the supply side all profits will accrue to underground networks; and on the demand side it is guaranteeing that any social or public health problems associated with drug taking will in the great majority of cases only come to light once they are out of control. If the UN is right and drugs account for 70 percent of organized criminal activity, then the legalization of drugs would administer by far the deadliest blow possible against transnational organized criminal networks.” 1 likes
“It is also a message to Congress and the presidency—slowly the American people may be realizing that after almost four decades of the war on drugs, dependency levels and usage are higher than ever before; that the prices of all major recreational drugs have been declining resolutely over that period; and that the state has wasted hundreds of billions of dollars in a criminal justice system that delivers a lot of crime but very little justice. The funds used to sustain bureaucracies such as the DEA that prosecute the war on drugs are a drop in the ocean when compared with the gazillions that organized crime syndicates have earned because Washington is determined to drive the market underground. The social and criminal problems related to drug abuse will never go away until the state can exercise control over the industry as a whole.” 1 likes
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