Red Mafiya

Robert I. Friedman

Published by Berkley, 2002
ISBN 10: 0425186873 / ISBN 13: 9780425186879
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Synopsis: This is the true story of the Russian mob's astonishing infiltration of American business, politics, finance, and professional sports. With a $100,000 contract on his life, investigative journalist Robert I. Friedman has dared to expose the best-kept secret in the world.

Review: Amid his efforts to expose the Russian mob, Robert I. Friedman learned from the FBI that "the most brilliant and savage Russian mob organization in the world" had put a $100,000 price on his head. Reading Red Mafiya, it's not hard to see why: this is a brave book about a troubling subject. Friedman, a freelance journalist, describes the research behind it: "I ventured into the Russians' gaudy strip clubs in Miami Beach; paid surprise visits to their well-kept suburban homes in Denver; interviewed hit men and godfathers in an array of federal lockups; and traveled halfway around the world trying to make sense of their tangled criminal webs, which have ensnared everyone from titans of finance and the heads of government to entire state security services." Their racket involves heroin smuggling, weapons trafficking, mass extortion, and casino operation, among other activities. "Blending financial sophistication with bone-crunching violence, the Russian mob has become the FBI's most formidable criminal adversary, creating an international criminal colossus that has surpassed the Colombian cartels, the Japanese Yakuzas, the Chinese triads, and the Italian Mafia in wealth and weaponry," writes Friedman. They've even penetrated professional hockey, as Friedman shows in an eye-opening chapter ("Federal authorities have come to fear that the NHL is now so compromised by Russian gangsters that the integrity of the game itself may be in jeopardy").

Red Mafiya benefits from a breezy narrative in detailing a master criminal operation whose influence on the United States is growing rapidly. Russian mobsters already have siphoned off millions of dollars in foreign aid meant to prop up their country's economy--and they may have a more direct impact on American national security concerns in the years ahead: "The Russian mob virtually controls their nuclear-tipped former superpower," writes Friedman. Now, there's a scary thought. Lifting the Iron Curtain seems to have been a mixed blessing: it let freedom in, and organized crime out. --John J. Miller

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Title: Red Mafiya
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: 2002
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
Book Condition: Used: Good

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