Mafia and the Death of the First Italian Republic
By (author) Alexander Stille
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Excellent Cadavers by Alexander Stille
Book DescriptionExcellent Cadavers (a term used in Sicily to distinguish the assassination of prominent government officials from the hundreds of common criminals killed in the course of routine mafia business) tells of the remarkable investigation spearheaded by Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, the two Sicilian prosecutors who in the 1980s took the war against the Mafia further than anyone had ever dared. In 1992, aware that the two magistrates were without the complete support of the Italian government, the Mafia assassinated them. In death they were hailed as national heroes; the massive public outcry demanded their investigations be completed. The outcome: the toppling of crucial alliances that had forged political rule in Italy since WWII and the criminal indictment of Italy's most prominent leaders.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780099594918
(198mm x 130mm x 30mm)
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 6-Jun-1996
Country of Publication: United Kingdom
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US Kirkus Review » A deep and devastating account of the assassination of Italy's top two anti-Mafia prosecutors. When magistrates Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino were murdered by the Sicilian Cosa Nostra in 1992, citizens of Palermo rioted, the stock market crashed, and top government officials (including Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti and Socialist leader Bettino Craxi) stepped down in disgrace. Falcone and Borsellino, the leading members of Palermo's anti-Mafia pool of investigating prosecutors, had captivated the nation as architects of the so-called "maxi-trial" of 475 alleged mobsters in a stadium-size bunker built exclusively for the purpose. Palermo's maxi-trial revealed to the world the feudalistic hierarchy of the Cosa Nostra, the growth of the heroin trade worldwide, and, most shockingly, the Italian government's outright collusion with Mafia families, especially with the ferocious Corleonese clan. Stille (Benevolence and Betrayal, 1992, not reviewed) brilliantly tells two parallel stories here. One is the story of Falcone's and Borsellino's unprecedented rapport with Mafia "men of honor," from gunrunners to chieftains such as Tommaso Buscetta, who broke the code of omertd (silence) to talk directly to the incorruptible and indefatigable prosecutors. The other stoW is the account of how members of the Italian government at every level sought to undermine the prosecutors' work: dismantling the anti-Mafia pool, sabotaging their careers, sending anonymous threatening letters, and even planting a bomb at Falcone's beach house. (The author considers the widely reported rumor that Andreotti's Christian Democratic government may have had a hand in the Mafia's murder of Falcone and Borsellino, but he decides that "no concrete evidence" substantiates it.) Stille is especially adept at what he calls the "semiotics" of Cosa Nostra life, subjecting the merest gestures and signs to rigorous interpretation. A remarkable work, at once a rich analysis of Italian culture and politics, a real-life conspiracy-theory thriller, and a psychological portrait of two bona fide heroes. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Alexander Stille
Alexander Stille's first book, Benevolence and Betrayal: Five Italian Jewish Families Under Fascism, was chosen by the Time Literary Supplement as one of the best books of 1992, and received the Los Angeles Times Book Award for history. Since Excellent Cadavers he has written The Future of the Past and The Sack of Rome: How a Beautiful European Country with a Fabled History and a Storied Culture Was Taken Over by a Man Named Silvio Berlusconi. He has written for the Boston Globe, the New York Review of Books, the New York Times, the Toronto Globe & Mail and the New Yorker. He is also the San Paolo Professor of International Journalism at Columbia. Stille lives in New York.
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