The Triads: The Growing Global Threat from the Chinese Criminal Societies

Martin Booth, Author
Martin Booth, Author St. Martin's Press $16.95 (215p) ISBN 978-0-312-05524-0
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Like Italy's Mafia, China's Triads, whose history may go back as much as 2000 years, were originally secret societies whose spirit and purpose were patriotic. Their power increased substantially after 1644, when the native Ming dynasty was overthrown by the foreign Ch'ing (Manchu) dynasty; the goal of the Triads then became to destabilize the government. To raise money for that ambition, they turned to crime. The Triads played a major role in the ``democratic'' regimes of Sun Yat-sen and Chiang Kai-shek, gradually increasing the scope of their criminal activities, but they alienated the Communists, who remain their implacable enemies. Booth ( Hiroshima Joe ) asserts that the Triads, headquartered in Hong Kong, now are spreading to other countries, especially Canada and Australia, and control the majority of the world's heroin trade. In a book that gets off to a slow start with a highly condensed history of China, the author sounds the alarm that the secretive gangs may pose the world's top crime problem in the 1990s. Photos not seen by PW. (Mar.)
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