With all the constant headlines about Russia, I made an effort to seek out books that examined criminal enterprises in the former Soviet Union published prior to our current political obsession. My thought was that I could fill in my own knowledge of the culture without reading being tainted by opinion influenced by the right or the left. To that end, Robert I. Friedman’s Red Mafiya: How the Russian Mob has Invaded America was an outstanding choice.
First, let’s establish the books bona fides. It was published by Little, Brown and Company so it came from a reputable house that isn’t overly aligned with the left or the right. More important, in this rubric I was using, was that the book was published in 2000. So you can’t really claim that today’s political bickering was an influence. You might be able to argue that Friedman doesn’t know what he’s doing, if you wanted, but you can’t argue that he’s perpetuating FakeNews because he belongs to anti-MAGA forces.
Essentially, Red Mafiya examines how waves of Russian criminals immigrated to America, often using religious exemptions as cover. The book details how Russian mobsters were considered gauche by their criminal brethren around the country. They liked to flaunt their wealth with showy mansions and glitzy suits. So it perhaps isn’t a surprise that they gravitated towards developments that bore the Donald J. Trump name on the marquee. Trump, for reasons explored in the book, was happy for buckets of cash from buyers with no discernible incomes paying two and three times market value. Rudy Giuliani, Chuck Schumer, and other folks make appearances in the text.
Remember, this book was researched, written, and published years before President Trump descended that escalator and announced his bid for candidacy.
Well worth the read and, as far as I’m concerned, politically “untainted” by what we know now, Red Mafiya is an intriguing examination into a criminal culture.