Russian Mafia in America Hbk

James O. Finckenauer, Author, Elin J. Waring, Author, Elin Waring, Joint Author
James O. Finckenauer, Author, Elin J. Waring, Author, Elin Waring, Joint Author Northeastern University Press $40 (288p) ISBN 978-1-55553-374-8
Reviewed on: 11/30/1998
Release date: 12/01/1998
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-1-55553-508-7
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In recent years, journalists have increasingly used the term ""Russian mafia"" to discuss crime committed by Soviet emigres in the U.S. In this straightforward, if dry, book, Finckenauer (director of the International Center, National Institute of Justice, and author of Russian Youth and Organized Crime in America) and Waring (a sociologist and author of Crimes of the Middle Classes) argue that there is no Russian mafia in the U.S., but only a network of criminals who work together when it behooves them. The authors rely on the Tri-State Joint Soviet-emigre Organized Crime Project covering New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania; on major criminal cases that involved former residents of the U.S.S.R. and members of the Italian mafia; and on interviews with Russian immigrants themselves. Along the way, they make some illuminating points, particularly about the conditions that create the rise of organized crime, the importance of honor in criminal networks and the ways in which the media and mainstream society often view the criminal activity of immigrant groups as more violent and organized than it actually is. But if the authors' distinction between a mafia and the loose crime network that they say better describes Russian emigre crime is important, one would expect it to have significant ramifications for methods of law enforcement, none of which are discussed here. (Dec.)
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