Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,

June Books 3) McMafia: Seriously Organised Crime, by Misha Glenny

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.
Tags: bookblog 2009

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