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Volume 3, Number 2, Spring, 1985

Protecting the Turf

The Sicilian

By Mario Puzo

Simon and Schuster
Reviewed by Michael Grossberg

Salvatore Giuliano was a libertarian Robin Hood. He didn’t steal from the rich to give to the poor. He stole from the government to give to the people.

During the 1940's and 1950's. Giuliano became world-renowned for his Robin Hood-like exploits: and was lauded by Life magazine as "the most successful bandit in modern history."

Starving families would find envelopes stuffed with lire left by Giuliano on their doorstep. Giuliano would kidnap aristocrats, lecture them on social justice and treat them with kid gloves while waiting for the ransom money. He hijacked government trucks loaded with food and distributed it to the poor.

An authentic 20th century legend who would have seemed at home in any one of a dozen 19th century romantic stories Giuliano is the hero of Mario Puzo’s latest novel, The Sicilian.

Adapting Salvatore Giuliano’s life a bit and shortening his name to Guilano, Puzo mixes truth with legend in a suspenseful, libertarian fable that also includes the famous fictional characters from Puzo’s other novel about Sicilians, The Godfather.

In Puzo’s version of Guilano’s life, his father worked for Don Corleone in New York before moving back to Sicily. Through this plot detail, Puzo is able to include Michael Corleone as a major character in the tale. This is a novel that the libertarian anarchist thinker Murray Rothbard—who, at least according to rumor, loved The Godfather because of its stirring demonstration of the efficacy of private anarcho-justice—would be sure to enjoy.

True to the antistatist spirit of Puzo's story, Guilano succeeds in its romantic outlaw’s life for many years. He reaches a tragic end only because of the treachery of the Mafia in collusion with the Roman state. Libertarians understand why such a tragedy had to be: the State must defend its turf against any and all private competitors—particularly a competitor so popular and heroic and libertarian as Guilano.

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