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Theme from "The Godfather"

My first real introduction to the mafia was a film I saw in about 1980 with English subtitles called 'Salvatore Giuliano' which was about a Sicilian bandit (a more modern version is called "The Sicilian" starring Christopher Lambert who is a reasonably good likeness to the real Salvatore Giuliano. After seeing the film, I went to the local library and hunted for any book on the Mafia or Sicily. The first book I found was by Gaia Servadio 'Mafiosa' - a brilliant book written by someone with a good knowledge of the Mafia and herself an Italian. Hundreds of books later and a visit to Italy the fascination still remains.

Salvatore Giuliano - Montelepre's mountains 16 November 1922 - 5 July 1950

The Mafia consists of people from many walks of life ie. noblemen, judges, lawyers, agricultural workers and the illiterate peasant. It probably evolved through the amount of poverty and unemployment that was present on the island of Sicily at the time. Whereas the organised crime gangs in Naples were called Camorra, the Sicilian gangs were known as Maffia (also spelt Mafia). They had their own law and 'code of silence' (Omerta). The earliest references appear to be from around 1874, but the first significant case, at least in Sicily, was the kidnapping of a banker from Edinburgh called John Forester Rose in 1877. John Rose was visiting estates and sulphur mines in Sicily owned by his banking family. He was held up by 4 armed Sicilians about 20 miles outside of Palermo and taken to the hills area. Mrs Rose was sent a ransom note. When she refused to pay, the bandits sent her the ears of Mr Rose and later a slice of nose. Mr Rose was eventually released and the British Government forced Italy to hunt down the kidnapper, who was Leone (an alleged mafia boss and an illiterate peasant). About a year later Leone was arrested just outside Palermo. His Lieutenant, Giuseppe Esposito, escaped to New York along with six other fugatives - the Mafia had arrived in the USA!!!

The mafia still plays an important part of life in Sicily even today, it has infiltrated many sections of the community. Because the the code of silence (omerta) still exists, it makes it very difficult for the law to control the activities of the Mafia completely. There are many mafia members working as white collar workers with no criminal records. The killings continue of judges, lawyers and anyone who decides to fight the mafia or break the code of silence.

The Garduna
- written records were kept of it's crimes, clients and fees from 1520 but is believed to have existed in the early fifteenth century. Its headquarters was in Seville, Spain but they had branches in Toledo, Barcelona and Cordova and other smaller organizations in smaller towns. The Garduna ledger books that were seized in 1822, brought about the conviction of the grand master and sixteen of his chief captains - they were hanged in Seville 1822. It is believed, that after this date the remainder of the Garduna emigrated to the New World.

The Camorra (spanish word meaning 'fight' or 'quarrel')
- was founded in Naples, the Camorra were powerful criminals during the 18th and 19th century. The Camorra had a 'capo' or captain and the underlings were organised into families. All the captains formed a Grand Council with usually a Grand Master (boss of bosses). The captains would be given licences to do business in their own territory and would pay the Grand Council a portion of the revenue. A lot of the earlier recruits were mainly from prisons and until about 1850/60 were classed as beginners until they had served a probation period of one year. They would not become a fully fledged Camorrist until they had committed a murder, ordered by the society. The capo was in charge of organising robberies, blackmail, loan sharking and levied a franchise tax on cab drivers, boatmen, dealers and auctioneers.
See: The Criminal Brotherhoods, David Leon Chandler, Constable & Company London 1976.

The Cosa Nostra (means: 'this thing of ours' or 'our thing')
- until the arrest of Joe Valachi, a member of the Salvatore Maranzano organisation, gave his testimony before a Senate committee about Organised Crime in 1963, nobody had heard of the word 'Cosa Nostra'. It really is no more than an alias for the Mafia but more the new Mafia of America not the Old World Mafia of Moustache Pete's of Sicily.

(purely for the interesting lives they have led - NOT for any killings they may have made or ordered)

Frank Costello 1891-1973 - Prime Minister of the Underworld

Al Capone 1895-1924- Chicago Crime Leader

Charles "Lucky" Luciano 1897-1962 - National crime syndicate founder

Meyer Lansky - a Jewish guy who was called 'the little man' and 'the money man' - 1902-1983 - National crime syndicate founder

John Gotti (the Dapper Don - from the Gambino family) 27 Oct 1940 - 10 June 2002 - died while serving a life sentence. (Gambino crime family)

Al Capone -The Biography of a self-made man, Fred.D.Pasley, Faber and Faber. London.1931

Frank Costello -Prime Minister of the Underworld, George Wolf with Joseph DiMona. Hodder & Stoughton Ltd, London 1975. ISBN. o 340 19144 9.

Brotherhood of Evil, Frederic Sondern,Jr., Pub. Victor Gollancz Ltd.,London 1959

Honor Thy Father, Gay Talese, Pub. World Publishing USA, 1971. Library of Congress Cat No: 70-167287

The Honoured Society, Norman Lewis, Pub. Cedric Chivers Ltd.,1973. SBN 85594 823 X

Mafiosa, Gaia Servadio, Pub. Martin Secker & Warburg Ltd.,London 1976. SBN - 436 44700 2

To a Different World, Gaia Servadio, Pub. Hamish Hamilton,London 1979. ISBN0-241-10060-7

Wise Guy, Nicholas Pileggi, Pub. Corgi 1987. Corgi Book 0 552 13094 X

Crime Inc.- the Story of Organized Crime (also a tv series), Martin Short, Pub. Book Club Associates (by arr.Methuen London) 1984. ISBN 0-423-01040 H/C, ISBN 0-423-01120-0 Pbk
(There are numerous books published about the mafia and organised crime but those are my favourites)

The Godfather, The Sicilian, Donnie Brasco, Hoodlum, Goodfellas, Gotti.

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