Contact theSOPAbout theSOPSupport theSOPWritersEditorsManaging Editors
theSOP logo
Published:May 1st, 2013 08:24 EST
BBC Journalist John Dickie is a 'Mafia Historian' with a Great Deal of Courage!

BBC Journalist John Dickie is a 'Mafia Historian' with a Great Deal of Courage!

By John G. Kays

I didn`t know that there was such a thing as a Mafia Historian, but apparently there is, with British writer and journalist John Dickie. I read one of his pieces (`Ndrangheta: Exploring the mafia`s underground world) with absolute astonishment and fascination this morning, when I noticed it was Number One on the BBC`s Popular Page. I had to imagine how many visits he was getting, knowing how people are so very interested in this cultural phenomenon, this underground society (literally) coming out of Italy. Well, you know the one I`m talking about!

After reading this most informative piece of John Dickie`s and watching a little video clip of a secretly dug residence, probably built for a boss of the `Ndrangheta, that projected out of a pizza oven, I had to do some research on John Dickie`s page in order to see what he`s written and why he gets the title of Mafia Historian. Some of John`s books are (I`d like to take a look at them): Mafia Republic, Mafia Brotherhoods, Cosa Nostra, and then one on the intriguing history of Italian food, Delizia! 

Boy, it`ll be a chore to tackle all these under the rug monographs, but I bet I`ll find a way to get around to it. The first important item you need to know, is that the geographical structures of these mostly hidden (apparently, not anymore) criminal organizations are broken up into three parts of Italy: Sicily, which gives us the main one, La Cosa Nostra, Naples with the Camorra, and one I didn`t know about until today, Calabria`s `Ndrangheta. Calabria`s dark past is just now coming to light for most of us!

As far as Naples goes, I visited the ancient Italian city in 2000; the tours books I was reading had quite a bit about the Camorra, so I was very aware of its presence when walking her weathered streets, in October of 2000. I even felt some fear in knowing everything around me was (most likely) controlled by the Black Hand. Anyway, I have a big imagination and have seen an awful lot of movies, TV shows, and have read quite a bit also (mostly about the American Mob, I might point out). Yea, I felt a little uneasy in my hotel room and when walking the streets twas a wee bit creeped out.

Alright, so I saw with my own eyes prostitutes who looked like they were stoked on heroin; I feel certain this was true, because I know the look. Eyes look glassy, the person is a zombie in outer space; this I reasoned, is how the Camorra works, keeping girls hooked on powerful narcotics, operating on overdrive, so they can get up the nerve to walk the streets. To everyday people living in Naples this must seem normal, but to me as a tourist is was shocking, if not disgusting.

You have to hand it to John Dickie, he has an awful lot of courage to do this groundbreaking research, on these organizations that have long had control of the southern portion of the Italian Boot. Much of this power has been reduced over the past 20 years or so, but that`s not to say it`s been extinguished completely. These groups have a way of regenerating, which is not totally understood, or is not reported to the public at large (for obvious reasons). I`ll be scouting around for some of John Dickie`s titles, and hope nobody catches me doing so!