Book Review

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BOOK REVIEW Mafia and Organized Crime: A Beginner’s Guide
James O Finckenauer, Mafia and Organized Crime: A Beginner’s Guide, Oneworld Oxford, 2007, pp. 220, ISBN 978-1-85168-526-4.
Tuncay Günaydın* “Mafia” or “criminal organization” is a fact that the society has a frightened-interest in. James O. Finckenauer deals with the issues of crime, crime that is well-organized and organized crime in his book Mafia and Organized Crime: A Beginner’s Guide. The book aims to provide the reader with an overall picture of organized crime, describe its recently developing transnational nature and to prove to the citizens of the U.S. that organized crime is, in fact, not so “alien”. The book consists of seven chapters: Organized crime and Mafia; Truth, Fiction and Myth-The Role of Popular Culture; Explaining the Past, Present, and Possible Future; The Many Faces of Organized Crime; Organized Crime Is What Organized Crime Does; An Evil Business: The Traffic in People; and Confronting the Enemy. The first part is assigned for the explanation of concepts such as mafia, organized crime, violence, harm etc., as well as comparison between the phenomena such as “mafia vs. organized crime” and “crime that is organized vs. organized crime”. Beginning in here and continuing throughout the following chapters, Finckenauer uses the term “organized crime” and “mafia” to define basically a group of people who repeatedly get involved in crime and violence in hierarchical collaboration within a period of time for the sake of financial and/or reputation-related gains. However, although he separates “organized crime” from “crime that is (well) organized” he does not use the term “criminal organization” instead of “organized crime”. This leads to a confusion since it is denominated differently. It must be called an “organized crime” when a group of people gather together for once and organize an illegal act to be carried out in hierarchical collaboration for the sake of financial gains though they are not necessarily to be defined as a “criminal organization”. Additionally, stressing the culture and family-based nature of mafia, the writer successfully decouples the popularly attached concepts “mafia” and “organized crime” from each other. In the second chapter, the influence of the media in the perception of organized crime and criminal organizations in society is discussed. With extracts from some movies and serials like The Godfather, Sopranos, La Piovra etc., this was one of the most entertaining chapters to read.
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Turkish National Police Academy, Institute for Security Sciences (GBF), Graduate Student

is noticeable in many other parts of the book. The literature review is one of the distinguished parts of the book and it is evident that the writer is an expert in the field. again. which seems more like an introductory part for the sixth chapter presents the criminal activities in details. the writer has a direct and enjoyable style. and why Finckenauer added this chapter remains unclear and it seems as if it is out of the general context of the book. short reading texts of which can be found plenty in the book made it like a journal which makes it a very easy to read. The fifth chapter. What the writer specifically points out here is that by providing services like gambling. what he specifically claims is that the alien conspiracy theory which is attributed as the core reason behind rise of criminal organizations in the United States is a “quite poor” theory and there had been crime and organized crime in the United States even before the Italian and Irish migration. In the following chapter. Here. He claims that organized crime plays a facilitator role for both the pushing and the pulling factors in the source and the destination countries. The theoretical parts of the book provide many examples and attributions of the genuine criminal organizations.104 International Journal of Security and Terrorism • Cilt: 3 (1) Finckenauer claims that the “romanticized” view of mafia and organized crime in the media and film industry hides the dark reality of murderous and predatory criminal organization(s) that extends from time to time”. The Russian Mafia. From a stylistic perspective. and drugs. Not objecting to his claim. this connection can be established between many of the transnational crimes and organized crime. In the last chapter. Mafia and Organized Crime: A Beginner’s Guide is recommended bachelor and master students of international and national security studies and all professional law enforcement agencies that are combating against organized crime. I think that the stress is on the U. In conclusion. However. witness protection. One Percent Biker Clubs. Additionally. The Japanese Yakuza and Chinese “Mafia” are described in the light of all theoretical analyses that has been discussed before. in the book. . many advices such as grants of immunity. The same emphasis on the U. sex.S. Urban Street Gangs. for example from the “Russian” or “Japanese” titles. The chapter entitled “An Evil Business: The Traffic in People” establishes an in depth analysis of the relationship between organized crime and human trafficking. The book is also a very beneficial source for individuals who intend to relieve him/her from the illusionary effect of media and romances on the perception of organized crime. and enhancement of international co-operation are presented for law enforcement agencies and any concerned parties. organized crime appeals to “human desires for forbidden fruit” and it exploits sin. various theories concerning the reasons why people turn into crime in general and into organized crime in particular are discussed.S. It is specified that organized crime deals with many illegal activities that can be carried out in collaboration with profitable activities. an American perspective is dominant as it can be seen. several examples of criminal organizations such as La Cosa Nostra. In the next chapter. Here.

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