Tim Parks writes:
There have been any number of books on organised crime in Italy. What makes Saviano’s different is the intensity and complexity of his engagement. It is not like that of Nando dalla Chiesa, the son of a senior policeman murdered by the Mafia and the author of books denouncing the complicity between political parties and criminal organisations. For all his personal investment, dalla Chiesa’s writings remain within the category of investigative journalism: his aim is to unmask political involvement at the highest level. Saviano is more visceral. Under cover of an authentic anthropological interest and an urgent determination to bear witness, he never fails to put himself in the scene. He wants to talk to workers in Camorra-run factories, to child recruits playing with guns, to drug couriers, to the guinea-pig addicts who try out their cocaine, to the shadowy figure who takes subsistence money to the wives of the men in jail, to hustlers, murderers. He wants to visit toxic-waste dumps, makeshift warehouses for contraband, the deserted villas of arrested Camorra bosses. He attends the funerals of murder victims and the trials of their killers; he is in the street when Camorra communities raise barriers against police raids.