Saturday, 27 May 2017

Post-War Crime

"He came to Italy as a Quartermaster officer in the war. Perfect chance for black marketing, if a man didn't mind taking a few risks. The miracle is not that a few QM people went bad but that most stayed the end of the war he was in touch with some pretty big figures in the Italian underworld, and saw the opportunities. He came right back after his discharge and went to work at it full-time... He got in on the postwar reconstruction of crime, along lines borrowed from gangland and Communism."
-Poul Anderson, Murder In Black Letter, Chapter 16.

It makes sense:

in the chaos of war and post-war reconstruction, there would be opportunities for black-marketeering and other criminality;

when legitimate society reconstructed itself, so did the Mafia;

there were opportunities for people in the US Army;

Communists had had to adopt a secretive "cell" organizational form that was adaptable to criminal activities.

Thus, in novels of the fifties and sixties, the War was more than a recent event. It and its aftermath provided motives for the characters. Some of James Bond's villains are WWII left-overs. In the recent UNCLE film, Napoleon Solo:

was in the US Army in Europe;
smuggled art works;
had to choose between prison and joining the new CIA;
worked with Waverley of British Naval Intelligence and Kuryakin of the KGB against a new common threat;
thus became part of a new team, UNCLE.

Pretty smart stuff.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

My view is that Lenin adopted conspiratorial forms of organization because he had only contempt for the idea of seeking power peacefully, legally, and by non violent means. He had no interest in renouncing violence and taking part HONESTLY in the State Duma which appeared 1905.