The Battle for Sicily's Soul

The Battle for Sicily's Soul : The Rise of the Mafia and the Fight to Free Sicily from Its Evil Tyranny

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Description

The Mafia survived in the shadows while holding Sicily in an iron-clad fist for over a century. Its colonisation of Sicilian folklore, such as the legend of the Beati Paoli, and misappropriation of traditional Sicilian values, including the importance of honour and love for the family, made Cosa Nostra appear to be a timeless and inevitable reality of Sicilian life.

A very important part of this strategy was the takeover of Catholic symbols, rituals and performative events that are beloved by Sicilians, branding the Mafia and its members as honourable and devout, while in fact they were quite the opposite.

This book looks at how Cosa Nostra manipulated Sicilian society and the Catholic Church for decades, disappearing into the background while hiding in plain sight. The roots of the Mafia in the island's religious superstition, bigotry and legends were so strong that it took over one hundred years and a massacre for the vows of secrecy to be broken, revealing the true face of the Sicilian Mafia.

Civil society, the Italian State, and the Catholic Church are now engaged in a relentless and ongoing battle with the Mafia for Sicily's soul.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 288 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 15mm | 386g
  • English
  • 9918615001
  • 9789918615001
  • 301,082

Review quote

What really grabbed me about The Battle for Sicily's Soul is the way Cassar manages to bring a strong human angle to what is, at its core, a tale of hardened criminality. She does this by weaving an emotional narrative within the foreground of history, cleverly demonstrating how the Mafia succeeded in gaining an octopus-like hold on Sicily by means of an insidious tactic - ingratiating itself with the community and becoming part of local culture, some members almost gaining the status of folk heroes.

Although a historical narrative, The Battle for Sicily's Soul manages to avoid the trap that some other non-fictional accounts fall into - that of making things too dated. The book does go back to the roots of the organisation, but it also brings the reader into the here and now all the way up to COVID times. On its road to the 21st century, the book takes detours into pop culture, even explaining how the classic hit movie The Godfather broke outside the realms of the fictional world its set in, inspiring and driving real-life mafiosi.

Organised crime isn't exactly a chill theme to read about, and there is the fear by some readers that this could very well be a journey of darkness that they're not really up for after a day dealing with the daily stresses of life. But this isn't the case here. While this certainly can't be described as a light-hearted read, there is a strong beacon of hope shining all through the chapters as Cassar introduces us to the good people, the fighters, the ones who refuse to give up their beloved island to the Mafia. Ultimately, as their story runs parallel to that of the darker protagonists, it elevates The Battle for Sicily's Soul from a mere account of the worst kinds of crime into a courageous tale the ending of which hasn't quite been written yet.

Ramona Depares, Journalist, Author and Book Review Blogger




The Battle for Sicily's Soul by Claudine Cassar is a well-researched book exposing the disturbing effects of one of the most violent criminal organizations in the world on Sicilian society and the Catholic Church. This book impressed me with its fascinating information on how the Sicilian Mafia infiltrated the local culture. It intrigued me to learn how the movie The Godfather became an inspiration for Cosa Nostra's members. This engrossing account skilfully reveals how the Sicilian Mafia was able to create a false yet appealing narrative that served its members well over the years.

Readers' Favorite




Cassar's rendition of a unique society torn over the centuries by forces without and within depicts Sicily's resilient struggle for rebirth. The book succeeds in portraying the island's journey of survival, pain and resilience.

Dr. Saviour Formosa, Professor of Criminology, University of Malta




A brave and very useful attempt to provide the general reader and scholars of the Mafia with a broad and synoptic treatment of the Mafia's evolution in Sicily. Highly recommended.

Dr. Paul Sant Cassia, Professor of Anthropological Sciences, University of Malta




This is a book that reminds us of how terrible humanity becomes when it turns on itself and when greed and an economy of individuality take over ethics and morality. A tale of endless pain. A must read.

Dr. Andrew Azzopardi, Professor of Community Development, University of Malta




A book that delves into the socio-religious-historical events which shaped life in Sicily but also shows how the Catholic rituals, symbols and linguistic register played an important part in the legitimisation of Cosa Nostra in the eyes of the local population.

Dr. Arnold Cassola, Professor of Comparative Literature
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