Men of Honour

Giovanni Falcone, Marcelle Padovani

Men of Honour



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Men of Honour is the result of 20 interviews recorded in 1991, and of a long-standing professional partnership between the journalist Marcelle Padovani and the Magistrate Giovanni Falcone. The two first met in 1984, at the Court of Palermo, and then continued their working relationship, which led to the creation of a film and a book based on the life and work of Falcone. The book tells the compelling and tragic story of Giovanni Falcone, born and raised in Palermo, Sicily. Falcone was a respected judge, so much so that even the mafia would share their secrets with him; but he knew too much, and was murdered just as he had been given broad powers to investigate the mafia across the whole of Italy. Men of Honour is a prime source of information about the Sicilian mafia and sheds much light on how this all-pervasive, dangerous and relentless phenomenon came to be.

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Analysis and key concepts


The mafia’s reach has always been underestimated by the Italian state, which explains the inconsistent verve and fluctuating intentions used to combat it


There are many reasons why the Italian state failed to quash the mafia. Most of them point to a lack of cohesion and coordination


It is time to dispel the myth of the old and new mafia. There was never an old mafia which acted on behalf of the community. They are a criminal organisation spread throughout Sicily, with connections all over the world


The mafia is an organisation with an established structure and stringent methods and rules whose violations are punishable by death


The mafia is engaged in lucrative and varied activities, to the exclusion of politics and gratuitous violence


The “pentiti” (meaning the repentants) have been a key source of information on Cosa Nostra, but they have never been offered any kind of state protection


Since the testimonies provided by the pentiti, and the hard work of Giovanni Falcone, enormous progress has been made in the methods and means used to take down the mafia




Take-home message

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Many useful tips to:

  • Understand the level of danger the mafia poses, as well as their ability to infiltrate.
  • Provide a glimpse into a key chapter in the history of Italy and its institutions.
  • Acknowledge that Cosa Nostra is still thriving, and continues to infiltrate many areas of society.

Born in 1939 into a middle class family in Palermo, Giovanni Falcone began to practise law at the age of just 25, and spent the first twelve years of his career in Trapani, before returning to Palermo during the years of the Maxi Trial. He became public prosecutor in Marsala in 1986 and, in 1991, Director of Criminal Affairs of the then Ministry of Justice. Although he experienced a narrow escape in 1989, he continued to work tirelessly. His avant-garde methods and the enormous contribution his work made towards the dismantling of Cosa Nostra made him a key target for the mafia, at whose hands he died, along with his wife and 3 police officers, on May 23rd, 1992.

Throughout her career, French journalist Marcelle Padovani - of Corsican origin - spent a lot of time working in Italy. She began as a correspondent for the Nouvel Observateur, and showed an interest in Italian politics and current events. She spent much of her time reporting on the Italian Communist Party, and published La Lunga Marcia in 1976. During her research she interviewed some of the highest ranking politicians in the Italian government, and her name is still highly regarded in the field of political journalism.

Publishing house:

HarperCollins Publisher