© 2015

Gangster States

Organized Crime, Kleptocracy and Political Collapse


Part of the International Political Economy Series book series (IPES)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiv
  2. Katherine Hirschfeld
    Pages 1-22
  3. Katherine Hirschfeld
    Pages 23-37
  4. Katherine Hirschfeld
    Pages 38-48
  5. Katherine Hirschfeld
    Pages 49-67
  6. Katherine Hirschfeld
    Pages 68-103
  7. Katherine Hirschfeld
    Pages 104-121
  8. Katherine Hirschfeld
    Pages 122-128
  9. Back Matter
    Pages 129-176

About this book


The author draws on behavioral ecology to predict the evolution of organized crime in unregulated systems of exchange and the further development of racketeer economies into unstable kleptocratic states. The result is a new model that explains the expansion and contraction of political-economic complexity in prehistoric and contemporary societies.


cold war crime democracy development economy Europe Mafia political economy violence

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.University of OklahomaUSA

About the authors

Katherine Hirschfeld is an associate professor at the University of Oklahoma, USA. She received her PhD in Anthropology from Emory University in 2001. Her research interests include the political economy of health, disease ecology and post-Soviet transitions. Among her previous publications figures the monograph Health, Politics and Revolution in Cuba since 1898 (2007).

Bibliographic information

Industry Sectors
Finance, Business & Banking


“Hirschfeld … has produced a gem of a work that is both multidisciplinary in its approach and intellectually seductive. Within the context of traditional organized crime studies, its amoral analytics may be viewed as highly disruptive–almost heretical–in nature. Contrarian and well executed works such as this should be greatly valued for their ‘out of the box’ perspectives and ability to shake up what can at times become an insular and dogmatic discipline.” (Robert J. Bunker, Trends in Organized Crime, June, 2016)

"This innovative and engaging book provides ananthropologist's assessment of some of the problems besetting much of the developing world." - Robert I. Rotberg, Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics, 2015, 49(6)