The Dragon Syndicates: The Global Phenomenon on the Triads

Martin Booth, Author Carroll & Graf Publishers $25 (368p) ISBN 978-0-7867-0735-5
In an indisputably important and extravagantly detailed account, Booth (author of the lauded Opium: A History and Booker-nominated author of the novel The Industry of Souls) examines the history of the notorious international crime groups known as the Chinese Triads, whose roots lie in ancient secret societies with traditions of religious and political dissent--particularly in the Hung Society of the 18th century. As Chinese emigrants spread around the world, so did the societies, metamorphosing into today's international terrorist networks. The Triads have an oddly checkered history of both criminal activity and patriotism (they supported Chiang Kai-shek and assisted the U.S. during the Vietnam War). Booth's narrative details the dizzying array of their criminal actions--including kidnapping, credit-card fraud, software piracy, international prostitution, illegal immigrant smuggling and Internet pornography--as it explores the lives and crooked partnerships of such legendary Triad power brokers as the Green Gang's far-rightist Big-eared Du, and the 14K, which maximized the mid-century heroin market. Booth also documents the Triads' infiltration of the business and social mainstream and their current exploitation of the Hong Kong film industry. He deserves commendation for addressing this risky subject (these groups are not above murdering journalists) and for shredding the Triads' centuries-strong web of ritual and patriotism. 16 pages b&w photos not seen by PW. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 07/31/2000
Release date: 08/01/2000
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