Woodiwiss, Michael J. 1950-
WOODIWISS, Michael J. 1950-
PERSONAL: Born October 12, 1950, in London, England; son of John L. V. (a sound technician) and Audrey (a writer; maiden name, Waters; later surname, Lawrence) Woodiwiss; married Alison Derrett (a teacher), July 22, 1995; children: Laurie, Sophia. Education: University of Essex, B.A., 19978; University of Sheffield, M.Phil. (with distinction), 1984.
ADDRESSES: Offıce—Faculty of Humanities, St. Mattias Campus, University of the West of England, Oldbury Court Rd., Fishponds, Bristol BS16 2JP, England. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: National University of Wales, University College of Swansea, lecturer in American studies, 1989-76; University of the West of England, St. Mattias Campus, Bristol, England, member of humanities faculty.
MEMBER: International Association for the Study of Organized Crime.
AWARDS, HONORS: The book Crime Crusades and Corruption: Prohibitions in the United States, 1900-1987 was named one of the best books of 1988 by the Independent.
(Editor, with Frank Pearce, and contributor) GlobalCrime Connections: Dynamics and Control, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1993.
Organized Crime and American Power: A History, University of Toronto Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2001.
Contributor to periodicals, including History Today, Spectator, New Society, Observer, and BBC History.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Research on transnational organized crime.
SIDELIGHTS: Michael J. Woodiwiss told CA: "I grew up in quite a tough part of South London, and my interest in crime began then. From a safe distance I used to follow the fortunes of local protection racketeers and drug traffickers. A few years of that told me that their careers were usually short and brutal, usually cut short or at least interrupted by prison. After I left the area, one of my jobs was as a cabin steward on the North Sea ferries that cross from England to the Netherlands. I soon found out that many, if not most, of the crew were operating a variety of illegal money-making schemes, ranging from stealing from the tills to smuggling small amounts of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. My instinct from then on was that successful organized crime was more about opportunity than anything else. At around the same time I completed a degree at the University of Essex and became interested in organized business crime primarily through reading Frank Pearce's Crimes of the Powerful. It seemed clear to me at that point that people at the top of the various business and political systems have more opportunity than most for successful criminal activity.
"As my writing has developed from undergraduate and postgraduate dissertations to articles and books, I have been encouraged by the response of, first, tutors and friends, and then reviewers. My first book, Crime Crusades and Corruption: Prohibitions in the United States, 1900-1987, for example, was named one of the best books of 1988 in the Independent newspaper. My next project, with Frank Pearce, was to edit Global Crime Connections: Dynamics and Control. This put me in contact with several of the leading researchers in the areas of organized and corporate crime and encouraged me to widen my research from organized crime in illegal markets such as drugs and gambling to organized crime in legal markets such as the systematic criminal activity of some major corporations.
"In Organized Crime and American Power: A History, I brought together my research of more than two decades to challenge the commonly held view that organized crime is virtually synonymous with 'super criminal' gangster groups such as the Mafia. Conventional histories of the problem tend to focus on outlaws in peripheral feudal societies, most commonly Sicily, for their antecedents. Organized Crime and American Power, by contrast, considers other roots: the systematic criminal activity of the powerful and the respectable—or those on their way to power and respectability—in those societies that we usually associate with the center of 'civilized' development. The book cites numerous examples of scholarship that demonstrate that organized criminal activity forms an essential part of the history of virtually every nation and empire, including the Roman and British empires and the United States itself. From earliest times, landlords, merchants, and holders of administrative and executive power have used the relative immunity that their status gives them to engage in or sponsor activity that today would be described as organized crime. With the development of modern capitalism, opportunities proliferated for stealing land, as well as for extortion, fraud, piracy, and the smuggling of many kinds of commodities, including human beings for slave or indentured labor. Organized crime today consists of new variations on old themes, and the current scandals involving giant corporations such as Enron and World Com suggest that the respectable are just as involved in organized criminal activity as they ever were. Given that my ambition over the years has been to change people's perceptions of organized crime, I was particularly pleased with the [reception of my book]."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Journal of Sociology, November, 1990, G. David Curry, review of Crime Crusades and Corruption: Prohibitions in the United States, 1900-1987, p. 798.
British Journal of Criminology, June, 1989, Ian Taylor, review of Crime Crusades and Corruption, p. 345; spring, 1990, Richard Hodder-Williams, review of Crime Crusades and Corruption, pp. 253-254; autumn, 1994, Neil Walker, review of Global Crime Connections: Dynamics and Control, pp. 508-510.
Choice, June, 2002, D. O. Friedrichs, review of Organized Crime and American Power: A History, p. 1870.
Globe and Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), March 9, 2002, Clayton Ruby, review of Organized Crime and American Power.
Independent, November 26, 1988, Patrick Renshaw, review of Crime Crusades and Corruption.
International Journal of Comparative Sociology, December, 1996, Fiona M. Kay, review of Global Crime Connections, p. 305.
Journal of American History, June, 1990, Eugene J. Watts, review of Crime Crusades and Corruption, p. 330.
Journal of American Studies, August, 1989, Michael French, review of Crime Crusades and Corruption, p. 334.
Law and Social Inquiry, summer, 1989, review of Crime Crusades and Corruption, p. 624.
Social Forces, March, 1994, Bradley Buchner, review of Global Crime Connections, p. 914.