I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

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Paul O’Mahony
McMafia: Seriously Organised Crime, by Misha Glenny, Vintage, 432 pp, £8.99, ISBN: 978-0099481256 Pain Control and Drug Policy: A Time for Change, by Guy Faguet, Prager, 238 pp, £31.95, ISBN: 978-0313382808 Misha Glenny is a British journalist, named Misha by his father, an academic specialising in Russian studies. Glenny, despite having no Russian family connections, has embraced his father’s Slavic intellectual inheritance. He has learned several Eastern European languages and become a correspondent, first for the Guardian and then for the BBC, focusing particularly on the collapse of communism and the consequent internecine wars in the Balkans. His reporting built him a considerable reputation that led to his consulting at government level in several countries and heading up, for three years, an NGO designed to assist in the reconstruction of Serbia, Kosovo and Macedonia. His most recent book is a brisk but richly detailed tour of large-scale international organised crime and the criminal gangs that run it and benefit from it. Glenny is an impressively informed and informative guide, who quickly wins the reader’s trust. He is a fascinating storyteller and a direct and generally lucid reporter, who holds the reader’s interest throughout this very ambitious, globetrotting excursion, which ranges from Canada to China and Brazil to Bulgaria. The comprehensive itinerary covers little known territories such as Transnistria and Montenegro, which have an unexpectedly major role in globalised crime, and better known countries such as India, Dubai and Israel, which have important but not widely recognised international criminal connections. He addresses both novel (cyber crime) and age-old (prostitution and protection rackets) forms of crime that tend to spawn criminal brotherhoods, and the various cultural, political and geographic contexts in which such activity flourishes. While there are occasional passages of hackneyed and purple prose and signs of careless editing (at one point we have an indigent rather than an indigene insisting on paying a restaurant bill), the book benefits from Glenny’s very considerable journalistic skills as he shows himself to be adept at both straightforward factual reportage and the kind of narrative colour-writing that seduces the reader with the human interest angle. Less frequently, but no less skilfully, he tries his hand at more reflective, thought-provoking editorialising. But McMafia also clearly demonstrates Glenny’s wide and thorough reading, in a number of languages, of the voluminous literature, both popular and academic, on organszed crime. Equally clear is the inestimable value of his fieldwork experience and the…



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