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I met up with Misha (I have known him for years) a few months ago at the Tube station close to his home. It was festooned with posters for his book (presumably a coincidence; I doubt that the advertising agencies care where he lives). I suggested he should autograph the posters but he sensibly declined to do so.

The book is an excellent run through the pervasive infiltration of organised crime around the world, which Glenny attributes largely to the collapse of the Soviet Union (though with a nod also to the US War on Drugs). He takes us on a breathless tour of the underworld in the Balkans, Russia, Ukraine, Israel, India, Dubai, Nigeria, South Africa, North America, Colombia, Brazil, Japan and finally China - which will have a key role in the future of crime, for good or ill. As always, he mixes deft character sketches of the personalities with gobsmacked horror at what is going on.

I must say that in general his account reinforces my libertarian instincts - criminalising drug use has little effect other than to empower and enrich criminals; stringent immigration laws enable and reward human trafficking; prohibiting prostitution makes vulnerable women even more vulnerable. The one area where this doesn't work of course is in the exploitation of scarce natural resources - the account of what is happening to the Caspian Sea's caviar is very depressing.

An excellent book, and an easy if sometimes wrenching read.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
sinclair_furie
Jun. 10th, 2009 12:53 pm (UTC)
Oohh, exciting! Sadly not at our library, but thanks for the recommendation :) Hurray summer reading.
lonemagpie
Jun. 10th, 2009 01:42 pm (UTC)
I got this one a couple of months ago - still on the to-read list though. Maybe after I'm done with Companero, Jorge Castaneda's biography of Che Guevara, which I'm reading right now.
treize64
Jun. 10th, 2009 04:26 pm (UTC)
I actually read this last summer when I was touring the Balkans and breathless is exactly the word for it. I was working on a novel set in Kosovo at the time and by the time I finished Glenny's book, I had ideas for the next three volumes!
jemck
Jun. 11th, 2009 07:51 am (UTC)
I found his Balkans book fascinating - and useful for the ongoing Lescari Revolution trilogy.

Am very interested in the McMafia book - but am restraining myself till y'know, there's at least the possibility of the time to read it appearing somewhere in the far distance...
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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