THE LAST GODFATHERS charts the rise of the notorious Corleone clan. From its humble origins in the town of Corleone, the clan manipulated Cosa Nostra's code of honour, deceiving and bludgeoning its way to the top of the secret brotherhood, purging its rivals and launching a terrorist campaign which decimated anti-mafia judges, police and politicians. Journalist John Follain focuses on the three godfathers who headed the clan from the 1950s onwards. Luciano 'The Professor' Leggio, Salvatore 'The Beast' Riina and Bernardo 'The Tractor' Provenzano, who forged a vicious clan bent on the subversion of democracy. Cutting through the romantic aura of Hollywood films, THE LAST GODFATHERS portrays the true face of the crime family which inspired Mario Puzo's The Godfather. Based on thousands of pages of judicial documents, wiretap transcripts, the testimony of mafiosi defectors and interviews with investigators, this is the definitive word on the world's most notorious criminal organisation.
John Follain is a journalist and writer. His previous books include MUSSOLINI'S ISLAND, A Dishonoured Society, Confronting Fear, Zoya's Story and City of Secrets. He has covered Italy for The Sunday Times and The Sunday Times Magazine for the past ten years.
'more detail and more gruesome colour than in any previous account. Follain musters this material with great skill into a compelling narrative. At the heart of the book there are two epic battles...an epic of modern police work and Follain brings it vividly to life.' -- Independent 'There's something disturbingly gripping about the relentless blood-spilling, feuds and betrayals; men taking life as breezily as if they were lifting a piece off a chessboard.' -- Tobias Jones, Mail on Sunday 'Although the story has often been told, Follain brings real suspense to its retelling. His prose is gripping.' -- Misha Glenny, The Sunday Times 'A terrific read...John Follain portrays the escalating savagery of Cosa Nostra's most notorious bosses with compelling rigour and verve.' -- John Dickie, author of Cosa Nostra 'A scintillating mixture of history, true crime and whodunnit, told both with restrained moral anger and the fascinating insights of the leading expert in his field. This well-researched, hard-hitting book is a fitting epitaph for the courageous Judge Falcone...Compulsively readable' -- Andrew Roberts
The gang that could shoot straight - and bomb, maim, steal, cheat, bribe and otherwise wreak havoc - documented by a capable chronicler of organized crime in Italy.Complementing Roberto Saviano's Gomorrah (2007), Rome-based Sunday Times correspondent Follain, by deromanticizing it straightaway, performs a valuable service in this account of the Sicilian Mafia's Corleone clan. The name Corleone is strongly associated with Mario Puzo's The Godfather and the films it begat, but Marlon Brando's quasi-chivalric padrino is far from the reality. As Follain notes, the Mafia - " 'men of honor' as they like to call themselves" - began as hired goons for absentee landowners who helped oppress the ordinary people, and thus they have remained, parasites and leeches. The postwar Sicilian mob, strengthened by being installed in positions of political authority by the Allied occupation forces, institutionalized this parasitism. But, the author writes, it all unraveled when a state-appointed special judge, Giovanni Falcone, began to dismantle the mobsters' power judicially - a campaign that, in May 1992, led to Falcone's assassination, as well as the deaths of dozens of other judges, prosecutors and police officials. The Italian state cracked down hard, and the heads of the Corleone mob - including Luciano Leggio, Salvatore Riina and Bernardo Provenzano - went into hiding and were eventually ferreted out one by one. The government achieved this difficult feat, writes Follain, with the help of "supergrasses" - well-placed informants within the Mafia, such as the prominent "soldier" Giuseppe Marchese. Within a few months more than 250 had broken the "law of silence" and accepted witness protection and other measures to protect informants.An important contribution to the documentation of how low the lowlife can get. (Kirkus Reviews)
Shortlisted for Heathrow Travel Product Award: Travel Read, Non-Fiction 2009.
Hodder & Stoughton General Division
The Rise and Fall of the Mafia's Most Powerful Family
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8pp colour photos