The first English-language book to document the men who emerged from the gulags to become Russia's much-feared crime class: the vory v zakone
Mark Galeotti is the go-to expert on organized crime in Russia, consulted by governments and police around the world. Now, Western readers can explore the fascinating history of the vory v zakone, a group that has survived and thrived amid the changes brought on by Stalinism, the Cold War, the Afghan War, and the end of the Soviet experiment.
The vory-as the Russian mafia is also known-was born early in the twentieth century, largely in the Gulags and criminal camps, where they developed their unique culture. Identified by their signature tattoos, members abided by the thieves' code, a strict system that forbade all paid employment and cooperation with law enforcement and the state. Based on two decades of on-the-ground research, Galeotti's captivating study details the vory's journey to power from their early days to their adaptation to modern-day Russia's free-wheeling oligarchy and global opportunities beyond. "This book could not be more relevant. . . brilliant, gripping, astonishingly rich. . . filled with flamboyant gangsters, devious rackets, vicious hits, secret policemen, Kremlin leaders and criminal slang, at once a true-crime chronicle, a work of scholarship, an anthropological study, a political history of the fused underworld and upper echelons of Russian power - and essential reading."-Simon Sebag Montefiore, Evening Standard
"Galeotti, by far the best-informed Western academic writing on the Russian security services today, charts the rich history of the country's criminal background and the twist of history that saw the vory - "thieves" - suddenly emerge as the victor's in Russia's chaotic experiment with capitalism."-Owen Matthews, TLS
"Mark Galeotti makes a convincing case. . . With the West reassessing its decisions to allow Russian oligarchs - many of whom made money by less than honest means - free rein in its capital cities, this book could not be timelier."-Matthew Partridge, Money Week
"You'd be hard pressed to find a more exhaustive and compelling guide to the confluence of state and organised crime in Russia than this history of thievery that stretches back to the underworld's pre-revolutionary roots."-Alasdair Lees, Independent
"Mark Galeotti's study of Russian organised crime, the product of three decades of academic research and consultancy work, is more than timely. In these days of ever more bizarre Russian attacks, it reads like the e