The Mafia

A Cultural History

Roberto Dainotto

The Mafia

Roberto Dainotto

Distributed for Reaktion Books

240 pages | 25 halftones | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2015
Cloth $30.00 ISBN: 9781780234434 Published May 2015 For sale in North and South America only
What is it about Tony Soprano that makes him so amiable? For that matter, how is it that many of us secretly want Scarface to succeed or see Michael Corleone as, ultimately, a hero? What draws us into the otherwise horrifically violent world of the mafia? In The Mafia, Roberto Dainotto explores the irresistible appeal of this particular brand of organized crime, its history, and the mythology we have developed around it.
           
Dainotto traces the development of the mafia from its rural beginnings in Western Sicily to its growth into a global crime organization alongside a parallel examination of its evolution in music, print, and on the big screen. He probes the tension between the real mafia—its violent, often brutal reality—and how we imagine it to be: a mythical potpourri of codes of honor, family values, and chivalry. But rather than dismiss our collective imagining of the mafia as a complete fiction, Dainetto instead sets out to understand what needs and desires or material and psychic longing our fantasies about the mafia—the best kind of the bad life—are meant to satisfy.

Exploring the rich array of films, books, television programs, music, and even video games portraying and inspired by the mafia, this book offers not only a social, economic, and political history of one of the most iconic underground cultures, but a new way of understanding our enduring fascination with the complex society that lurks behind the sinister Omertà of the family business.
Contents
Preface
One: Of Rustic Knights and Godfathers: The Origins of the Mafia
Two: From Corleone to Hollywood
Three: The Far West is Here
Four: The Godfather
Five: Prime Time
Six: Avatars
References
Bibliography
Acknowledgements
Photo Acknowledgements
Index
Review Quotes
PopMatters
“Dainotto’s The Mafia: A Cultural History offers something unique in the somewhat overcrowded category of books about the Mafia and its pop culture representations: a Sicilian intellectual’s historically informed yet personal perspective on the enduring appeal of organized crime stories.”
Choice
“Adopting a cultural studies approach to his subject, Dainotto argues for reading the Mafia as a cultural system whose development traces back to the 19th century. He is masterful in extending the discussion beyond a single field, and in his multidisciplinary analysis he connects the Mafia as a worldwide organization with historical origins in Sicily to its literary and cinematic representations in Italy and the US. He explains how theater, television, music, and video games renegotiate the organization, and he highlights how these depictions of the Mafia and its bosses blur the border between fiction and reality. Dainotto’s reliance on secondary sources notwithstanding, his unique approach to the Mafia as a cultural system bonding the organization(s) per se (the historical Mafia and now the Neapolitan camorra) to their representations truly engages and challenges the present way of thinking about it. . . . Highly recommended.”
 
Antonio Nicaso, author of Bloodlines and Angels, Mobsters and Narco-Terrorists: The Rising Menace of Global Criminal Empires
“This book helps to challenge the many clichés written and said about the Mafia. Written with clarity, intelligence, and expertise, it makes us understand the true essence of the Mafia, a crime organization organically linked to power and wealth and which contributed to the survival of social antagonism. Dainotto does a superb job of weaving together the complex history of the Mafia. It is faithfully factual, gripping, prescribed reading.” 
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
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