What began more than two thousand years ago in China has culminated, according to UN sources, in the greatest potential criminal threat the world has ever known. From San Francisco to Amsterdam to Bangkok to Johannesburg, the Chinese Triads today engage in extortion, gambling, international prostitution, illegal immigrant smuggling, money laundering, fraud, corruption, arms, and narcotics. Originally little more than societies founded on mutual self-interest, the Triads have evolved into an international criminal fraternity bound by archaic oaths and quasi-religious rituals that can visit on transgressors and opponents the "death by a thousand cuts." Patriots as well as outlaws, they have counted Sun Yat-sen, the father of modern China, and Chiang Kai-shek in their ranks. They instigated the Tong Wars in America, fought with the Allies against the Japanese in Malaya, colluded with CIA in Vietnam, and escalated the heroin trade to Europe and the United States. Martin Booth here unfolds in full the astonishing history of the Triads. And he has survived to tell the tale.