The Mafia: A Cultural History

Roberto Dainotto


Reaktion Books

Romance studies and literature professor 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 explores the tension between the real mafia with its violent, often brutal reality and how it is imaged as a mythical potpourri of codes of honor, family values, and chivalry. Rather than dismiss the collective imagining as complete fiction, Dainetto sets out to understand what needs and desires, or material and psychic longing, our fantasies about the mafia are meant to satisfy.

Exploring the rich array of films, books, television programs, music, and even video games portraying and inspired by the mafia, Dainotto 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.