A look at the post-war rise of Cosa Nostra and its intertwining with Italian politics (what with most of the Government’s ministers apparently being either a part of or closely tied with the group), this was an interesting although sometimes confusing book.
A complex subject at the best of times, the vast array of names (whether they be the many organisations like the Demochristians, the Red Brigades and the Cosa Nostra, the criminals and the politicians - who are often one and the same, the prosecutors or the people met by the author either during his past or along this journey) along with a habit of jumping around chronologically and wandering geographically sometimes left me a little befuddled as to who, when and where I was reading about.
I’m not entirely sure that the book’s byline (On Art, Food, History, Travel and the Cosa Nostra) really fit, as the parts that weren’t about the Cosa Nostra mostly took on the form of brief tangents or reporting of what Robb ate when he met such and such a person, and didn’t really bring anything particularly illuminating to the subject. The book may have even been more successful at getting across the huge amount of information delivered on the Cosa Nostra had these little distractions not been included.
Mostly I was left with a vague sense of how corrupt it seems Italian politics are, that ex-Prime Minister Andreotti was extremely dodgy (to say the least – Berlusconi seems a choirboy in comparison) and that I need to look elsewhere if I want to read about Sicilian food.
This is all probably starting to sound as if I didn’t enjoy this book. I did – it’s just more of an buffet than a fulfilling meal.