238 BOOK REVIEWS local gangsters who keep Monti crippled through their practices of usury, theft and extortion (chapter 6) and maintain their activity in a frustrating world of tribal si- lence reminiscent of Edward Banfield’s “amoral familism” but on a rione level. “Fear, friendship and illegality,” he writes, “these define an intimacy that must be protected from outsiders and officials” (151). In the next chapter, Herzfeld explores a nostalgia for an almost romantic underworld code, one that “took care” of the locals and their property, a mentality which still helps the Monticiani close ranks against outsiders, particularly against meddlesome and/or incompetent government and police officials. Do any bright spots glimmer on the Monti horizon? Herzfeld dismisses as ineffectual any action from the political Left, although he finds something to ap- plaud in the efforts of a handful of intellectuals, such as the political-economist Riccardo Troisi (49-51). When he and others can score a degree of acceptance from the wary locals, the beginning of a level of neighborhood resistance, a certain en- lightenment, has been achieved. In particular, the “Monti Social Network” (MSN) stands as a significant, albeit rare, example of grass-roots mobilization. But the Monticiani could not count on
Forum Italicum : A Journal of Italian Studies – SAGE
Published: Mar 1, 2010
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